Ursula K. Le Guin, the beloved fantasy and children’s author, died on Monday in her home in Portland, Oregon. She was 88 years old. Her son, Theo Downes-Le Guin, confirmed her passing but did not cite a specific cause of death. She had been suffering from serious health problems over the last several months.
Le Guin was a prolific author, having written countless novels, short stories, and poems over the course of her life. She is best known for her science fiction and fantasy writing, and her groundbreaking Earthsea books are widely considered one of the best children’s fantasy series ever written. The award-winning tales share the story of Earthsea, an archipelago world where words hold true power and death is a constant reality. While the five Earthsea novels certainly weren’t written for young children, they have been incredibly popular with older kids since the first book, A Wizard of the Earthsea, was released in 1968. It immediately challenged the expectations of the fantasy genre and offered Le Guin’s unique perspective on topics like gender, race, and power.
Along with the Earthsea series, Le Guin wrote dozens of other science-fiction novels for both adults and children that were met with near-universal acclaim. She won her first Hugo Award, which is given to the best science fiction and fantasy novel each year, for her 1969 instant classic, The Left Hand of Darkness. After reading it, literary critic Harold Bloom stated, “Le Guin, more than Tolkien, has raised fantasy into high literature, for our time.” Losing someone with such an extraordinary talent is always tragic, but Le Guin’s remarkable legacy will live on as new generations continue to fall in love with her stories.