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Sing Yun Lee & Francis Gene-Rowe

Ursula K. Le Guin

Today’s episode is a conversation about Le Guin and her work with the focus is on one particular book written in 1968 titled The Left Hand of Darkness’.

Ursula K Le Guin Web

Ursula K. Le Guin. Photograph: William Anthony/The Nation

As some of you may or may not know, the author Ursula Le Guin passed away several months ago at theage of 88. Ursula Le Guin was an author of Fantasy and Science fiction, though I believe she preferred to be known simply as an American novelist.

As architects and designs we wear many hats, but for the most part it’s a discipline associated with giving shape to the materials that build spaces. Architects give shape to spaces we inhabit and live within. There is of course a politics associated with why particular spaces take the shapes they do and it’s also understood that those spaces in return continue to inform the activities and people that occupy them. 

I think it’s a worthwhile exercise to imagine whom the architect might be designing for a century from now. Not only what technologies might become our tools or what new materials might exist to build with, but also who the people might be that use these architectures. A century from now, how might people communicate with each other? What might our relationships be with our environment? What new subjectivities and social norms might have emerged? This is what draws me to the work of Ursula Le Guin. 

In engaging issues of sociology, anthropology, and psychology in fiction, Le Quinn popularized a genre of literature (Fantasy) that was often dismissed as a low art’ form. Where science fiction might be viewed as technological inventions, and scientific speculation; fiction that questioned gender, race, politics and love fell into another category all together. 

Right now, we need writers who know the difference between production of a market commodity and the practice of an art.” Ursula K. Le Guin

Special Thanks to The London Science Fiction Research Community who are a group of science fiction scholars, students and fans which convenes at least once a month in central London, UK. The Community hosts a monthly reading group and an annual academic conference, as well as semi-regular film screenings and guest lectures.

Sing Yun Lee

Sinjin Li is the moniker of Sing Yun Lee, a graphic designer and illustrator based in East Anglia. Sing uses the character of Sinjin Li to explore ideas found in science fiction, fantasy and folklore in their personal work. They like to incorporate elements of this thinking in their commissioned work, creating illustrations and designs for subject matter including cultural heritage and belief, food, and poetry among many other themes. 

Francis Gene-Rowe

Francis Gene-Rowe teaches science fiction, game writing and fantasy at the University of Surrey. Francis is the London Science Fiction Research Community’s longest standing co-director, and also serves as Councillor of the British Science Fiction Association and judge for next year’s Clarke Award. Areas of interest include Philip K. Dick, William Blake, Ursula K. Le Guin, tabletop gaming, anti-racism, ecology, speculative poetry, critical dystopia, situated knowledges and goblin futures.

N Ws Episodes 3