Ursula Le Guin: she got there first
Boston Globe, November 22, 2014
In the 1960s realism dominated American letters. Science fiction was the bastion of engineer geeks. And then Le Guin emerged with a series of books that challenged the way we think of not just technology, but civilization.
Chief among them was “The Left Hand of Darkness,” Le Guin’s 1969 novel set several thousand years in the future on an ambisexual planet, where men and women take on male or female sex characteristics depending on their relationships or desires.
Le Guin wasn’t just ahead of the curve in contemplating the social construction of gender. While science fiction zoomed toward the technological future, she wrote about anarchist movements, the way societies create aliens within themselves, and climate change.
“Of many present day memes,” Margaret Atwood wrote in an e-mail, “well might it be said; Ursula got there first!”