The Unruly Energy of Ursula K. Le Guin

January 20, 2021

At the London Review of Books, Colin Burrow reflects on how Ursula K. Le Guin‘s narrative prowess flourished within the constraints of science fiction and children’s literature. “Fiction needs the unruly energies of indeterminacy,” Burrow writes, “of being partly inside the mind of the reader, of trying to hold in check or wrestle with earlier fictions that it doesn’t quite want to become, of being only in an illusory way autonomous. To put that less abstractly, the constraints of genre fiction, of SF and children’s literature, were good for Le Guin: they forced her imagination not only to make a world, but to throw stories at it. Narrative matters in fiction because when things happen the structures of an imagined world have to flex a bit, and that can test their resilience and generate new energies.”

Image credit: Marian Wood Kolisch

is a writer and illustrator. She is the author of two illustrated books, Last Night's Reading (Penguin Books, 2015) and Sanpaku (Archaia 2018).

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