A brooding sky this morning. When I arrived home late last night from
Le Guin's sharpest barbs are aimed at publishing executives who "think they can sell books as commodities" and are disappointed if their holdings don't increase "yearly, daily, hourly." She then goes on to compare selling books to selling corn.
Until the corporate takeover of independent publishing houses, she points out, publishers didn't expect expansion: "They were quite happy if their supply and demand ran parallel, if their books sold steadily, flatly."
It’s also a beautiful rhapsody to reading and Le Guin writes: “Besides, readers aren’t viewer; they recognize their pleasure as different from that of being entertained. Once you’ve pressed the ON button, TV goes on, and on, and on, and all you have to do is sit and stare. But reading is active, an act of attention, of absorbed aloneness—not all that different from hunting, in fact, or from gathering. In its silence, a book is a challenge; it can’t lull you with surging music or deafen you with screeching laugh tracks or fire gunshots in your living room; you have to listen to it in your head. A book won’t move your eyes for you images on a screen do. It won’t move your mind unless you give your mind, or your heart unless you put your heart in it…”
In the closing sentences she writes: “Since kids coming up through the schools are seldom taught to read for pleaser and anyhow are distracted by electrons, the relative number of book readers is unlikely to see any kind of increase and many well shrink further. What's in this dismal scene for you, Mr. Corporate Executive? Why don't you just get out of it, dump the ungrateful little pikers, and get on with the real business of business, ruling the world?"
A number of Le Guin's science fiction works, including her award-winning novels The Dispossessed and The Left Hand of Darkness, are set in a future. Over nearly 50 years she's published novels, children's books, more than 100 short stories, essays, poetry, two volumes of translation and screenplays of her works. She's received the National Book Award, five Hugos, five Nebulas, the Kafka Award, a Pushcart Prize and several "lifetime achievement" awards among dozens of other honors. She’s crosses genres and in her sci fi she examines contemporary problems by placing them in her imagined worlds--for example, an anarchic society in The Dispossessed, (1974) and life in an androgynous world, in The Left Hand of Darkness, (1969). LeGuin is also the author of a fantasy series for children, the Earthsea trilogy, and has received many awards, including the Boston Globe-Hornbook Award for juvenile fiction (1968) and the National Book Award (1973) for the children's book The Farthest Shore.