In 1969, Le Guin published The Left Hand of Darkness, which was about a planet where people aren't assigned a gender but rather adopt one for brief periods of reproduction.
Her work has been translated into more than 40 languages and one of her most popular books, "The Left Hand of Darkness", has been in print from nearly 50 years.
Le Guin was a staunch champion of the intellectual strength of science fiction and fantasy at a time when they were often relegated without a thought to the realm of the unserious "genre ghetto". "For a woman, any literary award, honors, notice of any sort has been an uphill climb", she told the LA Review of Books a year ago.
She had also written books on poetry and writing that are still unpublished, Downs-Le Guin said.
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"Her words are always with us".
"I just learned that Ursula K. Le Guin has died", he wrote. Indeed, she completed a triple crown of the genres' biggest prizes, earning the Hugo, Nebula and Locus awards several times over.
Ursula le Guin: "If you cannot or will not imagine the results of your actions, there's no way you can act morally or responsibly".
The Earthsea books have sold in the millions in 16 languages.
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In 2014, Le Guin was awarded a lifetime achievement award by the National Book Foundation.
No matter the form or the subject, Le Guin's prolific output displayed a consistently high level of quality and gracefulness. The novel focuses on themes about the way sex and gender play roles in culture and society, and is noted as one of the first examples of feminist science fiction literature.
In return, Le Guin has named authors including J.R.R. Tolkein, Leo Tolstoy, the Brontë sisters and Virginia Woolf as her own inspiration. Its power seems inescapable; so did the divine right of kings. We who followed her as both readers and writers are the lucky ones. Her works aren't just influential: They loom like monuments over the horizon of our shared imagination.
Michael Berry writes the science fiction and fantasy column for The San Francisco Chronicle.
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