I want there to be a space commune
named Le Guin. It will be on Earth.
We will tell each other stories at night.
We will believe what we say.
The white rhinos will come back
and rampage through London
putting their horns through car windows
and bellowing songs of triumph.
We will call them dragons, get out of their way,
and leave offerings to them at traffic lights.
I want to walk away
and have something to walk towards.
To make the stony spaces ours,
to learn to grow food
in the most unlikely places.
I want the soil back.
Words will be light and springy.
They will be like reeds
and we will blow through them.
Everything will be a library.
I want to walk across an expanse of ice
and come out on the other side.
I want the bleached coral to evolve
into something new, to rise
from the sea and tell us:
we must imagine better.
It’s strange and wonderful how writers can shape who you are without ever needing to meet you. When Ursula Le Guin died on January 22nd, I was taken by surprise at the depth of grief I felt. Le Guin taught me so much about writing, stories, and the importance of imagination in trying to make things better. I loved her thought experiments, her commitment to both political engagement and brave nuance, and the way her stories took me somewhere else and brought me back a bit wiser and a bit kinder.
I worry that we’re going to imagine ourselves into a dystopia if we don’t start coming up with better stories, and Le Guin’s were the best. I guess it’s up to us now.
“I think hard times are coming where we will be wanting the voices of writers who can see alternatives to how we live now, who can see through our fear-stricken society and its obsessive technologies to other ways of being, and even imagine some real grounds for hope. We will need writers who can remember freedom… We live in capitalism. Its power seems inescapable. So did the divine right of kings. Any human power can be resisted and changed by human beings. Resistance and change often begin in art, and very often in our art, the art of words.” (From Le Guin’s acceptance speech for the National Book Foundation’s medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters.)
Speculative Fiction is my small poetic tribute to the grandmother of the revolution. Rest in power, Ursula K. Le Guin.