An excellent collection of non-fiction writing by the recently deceased Ursula Le Guin
Characteristically straight-talking and unpretentious, Le Guin first introduces the book as a "carrier bag full of ideas and responses, thoughts and rethinkings". Then moving swiftly from the ordinary to the magical in under half a page she ends by hoping "that readers wandering in this garden of forking paths will find themselves in a rose plot or a bed of mandrake-root or a small grove of mallorns or sequoias where they feel at home"
Unsurprisingly, given her groundbreaking fiction, this collection exposes Le Guin's contantly whip-smart intellect, her wide-ranging interests and a treatment of her varied subject matter that is at different times both deeply profound and enjoyably playful...Whether she's writing about Star Wars or Borges, about the nature of beauty or heroes or princesses or utopias, the picture painted is of an endlessly engaged and inquisitive mind, and a restless intelligence that it is a joy to spend time with.
It's a perfect way to remember Le Guin: like her, it's forthright, nuanced and above all - wise.
Even in death, it seems, Le Guin is one of the singular speculative voices of our future, thanks to her knack for anticipating issues of seminal importance to society.
Lit up throughout by vibrant and vital prose, it's a cumulative tour de force that deserves , and rewards, careful study...To fully appreciate the brilliance of her canon of work means paying equal attention to her talents as a perceptive social commentator and political observer, with a catalogue of committed non-fiction to her credit. It's a reputation that the publication of this welcome collection should do much to confirm.
By turns sharp, funny and insightful, high-minded but never mean-spirited, the book embodies its author's lifelong quest for freedom: freedom as a woman, freedom to write what she pleased, freedom to like what she liked. Genre fiction - and literature in general - has lost not just one of its brightest exponents but one of its bolshiest champions.