April 25, 2011

Earthsea, Genderless Humans, and Learning From One Fantastic Author

(I apologize in advance to all formatting nazis... I haven’t figured out how to get my website-making program to make only some words italic. This means that, sadly, all book titles will be encompassed by punctuation marks. The English geek within me grieves deeply.)

Lately, I found the website of Ursula Le Guin, one of the most distinguished science fiction and fantasy authors of all time, and one of my favourite authors. If you have never read anything by her or have never even heard of her I want you to immediately stop what you’re doing, go to the nearest bookstore, find one of her books and buy it (trust me, there will be at least one there), then read the whole thing. You can come back to this when you’re done.

The first book I read by Ursula was “The Farthest Shore”, which is the third book of her series set in Earthsea, a world that consists mainly of islands (as far as the map shows). Yes, I read the third book first. I didn’t care. It had the coolest dragons I have ever encountered in fantasy, a wizard who treated magic and its effect on the world so seriously that he barely used it, and a voyage to the land of the dead. I then proceeded to read the fourth book second, the second book third and the first book fourth. By then, I discovered the real order to the series, read them all properly and concluded with the fifth book. I have never, before or since, mangled the order of a series so much, but I have never, aside from Madeleine L’Engle’s Time Quartet, loved a series more. You heard me. I like it better than the Lord of the Rings, the Chronicles of Narnia, the Foundation books, the whole Dune series, the Dark is Rising series... what is it with speculative fiction and series, anyways? But I have a point. I will continue towards it.