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Ursula Le Guin is Angry

I never got around to reading Earthsea, even though the books have been lying around forever. Maybe it’s the ugly 70’s cover. Or maybe it’s a lack of confidence that Ursula Le Guin’s style will carry over well. But in 2004 the SyFy channel did an Earthsea miniseries, which I didn’t watch either. But Ursula Le Guin did and she’s angry.

Or sort of angry.

I don’t know what the film is about. It’s full of scenes from the story, arranged differently, in an entirely different plot, so that they make no sense. My protagonist is Ged, a boy with red-brown skin. In the film, he’s a petulant white kid.

I don’t know how badly SyFy botched Earthsea, but come on it’s SyFy. I don’t expect Ursula Le Guin to know much about it or care, but a few quick questions and a viewing of their other miniseries should have clued her in that it would be garbage. But she doesn’t seem to care that the plot was ruined or that it made no sense, but that the lead actor was white. From the way she tells it, race might be a plot point here, but if the entire script was botched, why would you expect them to get the racial composition right. Especially when they’re working with actors plucked from CW and WB shows.

The article becomes a rant with condescending overtones. LeGuin boasts that she’s white but not European. Does she really think Americans are a separate race? The climax is self-praise for how much she’s done for people of color with Earthsea. By then it’s less of an attack on the SyFy channel then it is about her own greatness in reaching beyond her race.

Is Publishing an Author’s Short Stories Collection a Good Idea?

I’ve been reading through some short story collections by major Science Fiction authors and after a few volumes of that, I’m not so sure that these collections are even a good idea.

Why? Authors repeat themselves, reworking the same themes and ideas. The story that looks unique in a copy of Fantasy and Science Fiction or in an anthology about alien dragons or telepathic fantasy worlds or alternate history heroes, looks a lot less unique when it’s sandwiched side by side with a dozen others with the same author’s perspective.

For the “Where do you get your ideas” crowd, it can be interesting to see that Anderson’s Goat Song is a reworking of the same themes and ideas as Queen of Darkness and Air (wielding archetypes to manipulate people, a war between technological order and chaos using myth, etc) but it’s also somehow disappointing.

Magazines and anthologies bring together different approaches on a theme. John Campbell used to hand out the same idea to different writers to see what emerged. But one writer reworking the same ideas can feel stifling after half a dozen stories.

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