Hopping Through Time With Ursula K. Le Guin

In a 1966 novel, Ursula K. Le Guin wrote about a little device — about the size of a lunchbox — that allows its owner to communicate across land masses, even planets, in a flash. Though the ansible isn’t currently a reality, we’re constantly working to improve the speed with which we can deliver electronic information to far-flung readers.

That Le Guin could even conceive of such a technology decades ago speaks to the powers of her imagination. “You move along with your time,” she said in a phone interview with The Huffington Post, noting that some of the more radical concepts she penned in the 1990s would’ve never occurred to her when she set out to start writing.

Though she’s lauded as a feminist novelist and poet who’s used fictional societies to criticize gender norms, she admits that she was slow to grow into her own beliefs. After all, she was raised on the hard sci-fi of male physicists and engineers — great books not unlike last year’s The Martian, but far removed from her interests, which are centered on social sciences, anthropology and religion.

Over the phone — a sort of proto-ansible — the author discussed her development as a feminist, her thoughts on this year’s Hugo Awards, and her concerns about Amazon. She punctuated most of her steadfast opinions with a good-humored laugh — a reminder of the amusement and wonder that underlies so much of her work.

I wanted to ask a little about your slightly more recent stories — in a story from the ’90s, “Coming of Age in Karhide,” you return to the world of The Left Hand of Darkness, but explore the characters’ sexuality more closely. Why did you feel you were able to do this decades after the world was created?

Science-fiction was not doing sex, —> Read More