Siobhan Leddy: Read more Ursula Le Guin

The Outline:

The generative potential of storytelling is especially pronounced in speculative fiction, a genre that mines our current reality as raw material for imaginary worldbuilding (this includes things like sci-fi, fantasy and horror). The genre’s patron saint, Ursula Le Guin, died last year aged 88, but she left behind her a breathtaking legacy of fiercely intelligent books and short stories imbued with her own anarcho-feminist, anticolonial politics. One of her best-known novels, The Dispossessed, imagines a small, separatist planet administered according to anarcho-syndicalist principles, what she subtitles an “ambiguous utopia” full of contradictions and complexity. On the planet Anarres, prison does not exist, work is voluntary, any claim to ownership is dismissed as “propertarian” — yet, despite all this, greed and power can still take hold...

The kind of story we need right now is unheroic, incorporating social movements, political imagination and nonhuman actors. In this story, time doesn’t progress in an easily digestible straight line, with a beginning, middle and end. Instead there are many timelines, each darting around, bringing actions of the past and future into the present. It collapses nature as a category, recognizing that we’re already a part of it. In a climate change story, nobody will win, but if we learn to tell it differently more of us can survive.