Author Ursula K. Le Guin is one of my favorite authors and the latest subject in the “Last Interview” series of books. David Streitfeld edits and writes the introduction to several interviews conducted over Le Guin’s life, including the last interview before she passed away on January 22, 2018 at her house in Portland, Oregon.
Le Guin is a trailblazing author, one of the first women to successfully penetrate science fiction’s male-dominated field. Her books “The Left Hand of Darkness” and “The Dispossessed” are classic, science fiction novels that are read and taught in college courses. In addition she also has authored the classic “A Wizard of Earthsea” series for young adults—and a great number other books as well. I am confident that her works will outlast the works of most of her contemporaries.
Streitfeld feels the same and confidently asserts in his introduction that “Someday scholars will seek out every Le Guin interview in every fanzine and Oregon newspaper.” Always thoughtful and always opinionated, Le Guin is a great interview subject. She is highly quotable, full of wisdom and interesting tidbits with an irascible bite to them.
On Sonnets: “Fourteen lines and a demanding rhyme scheme seems to be a tight, closed form, but Wordsworth got all of London and all the sunrise into it.”
On Capitalism and change: “We live in capitalism, its power seems inescapable- but then, so did the divine right of kings. We can change our lives.”
On her plotting: “Actually I’m terrible at plotting, so all I do is sort of put people in motion and the go around in a circle and they generally end up about where they started out. That’s a Le Guin plot.”
Objecting to an interviewer’s use of the world “battle”: “Can we get away from the battle metaphor, from winning and losing?...I see it as, you make a gain here and then discover you lost something there.” The interviewer, properly admonished, replies “Okay.”
Fans and admirer’s of Le Guin’s works will find much to love here. She is an original writer who also was a fascinating interview subject. The interviews in this book, like her novels, re-read well. So read and re-read this book, or, better yet, find a copy of “The Dispossessed” or “The Left Hand of Darkness” and experience the vision of one of our great science fiction authors.