Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Best Science Fiction Writer Ever?

So the kid is currently reading Ursula K. Le Guin's collection The Birthday of the World for her school reading.

If you haven't yet read this collection, you should.  It's one of the strongest of Le Guin's collections, and one of the strongest collections of SF stories ever, bar none.

Further, it contains two of the best SF stories I've ever read: "The Matter of the Seggri," and "Paradises Lost."

The first is from Le Guin's Hainish cycle, the universe that posits multiple civilizations seeded by some remote ancestor, with various variations on each planet.  On Seggri, the variation is that very few male babies survive pregnancy, or infancy.  And what happens next?  (Hint: not what you expect.)

"Paradises Lost" is that old SF chestnut -- a generation ship.  Again, the strength of Le Guin is that she always takes the reader where the reader does not expect to go.  This is not your typical generation ship story.

So -- the point to this post, besides telling you that you should acquire and read The Birthday of the World at once, is that the kid and I were discussing, as we do, her reading of Le Guin's stories, and how much we like reading Le Guin, and ruminating over which Le Guin story or book we like best (The Word for World Is Forest?  Dispossessed? The Lathe of Heaven?) and I came out with, "You know, Le Guin just might be the best SF writer in the world."

"Better than Eleanor Arnason?" the kid said, who knows me well.

"Ooo," I said.  "Tough call."

Good thing it's not actually a contest.


Releeh said...

Coincidentally, one of the stories from The Birthday of the World ("Mountain Ways") has been republished online in the most recent edition of Clarkesworld.
I bought a second hand copy of The Birthday of the World on a whim earlier this year, and I agree; it is very, very good.

delagar said...

I missed that, somehow!

I even have a subscription to Clarkesworld. I'll have to go back and look.

delagar said...

Oh -- MOST recent! That's why. I haven't caught up with my reading yet! :)