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Ursula Le Guin, acclaimed for her fantasy fiction, is dead at 88

Ursula Le Guin American author of novels, children's books, is seen in a Sept. 9, 2001 photo. Le Guin, the award-winning science fiction and fantasy writer who explored feminist themes and was best known for her Earthsea books, died peacefully Monday, Jan. 22, 2018, in Portland, Oregon, according to a brief family statement posted to her verified Twitter account. She was 88. (Benjamin Brink/The Oregonian via AP) ORPOR501
Ursula Le Guin American author of novels, children's books, is seen in a Sept. 9, 2001 photo. Le Guin, the award-winning science fiction and fantasy writer who explored feminist themes and was best known for her Earthsea books, died peacefully Monday, Jan. 22, 2018, in Portland, Oregon, according to a brief family statement posted to her verified Twitter account. She was 88. (Benjamin Brink/The Oregonian via AP) ORPOR501
Published Jan. 23, 2018

Ursula Le Guin, the immensely popular author who brought literary depth and a tough-minded feminist sensibility to science fiction and fantasy with books like The Left Hand of Darkness and the Earthsea series, died Monday at her home in Portland, Ore. She was 88.

Her son, Theo Downes-Le Guin, confirmed the death. He did not specify a cause but said she had been in poor health for several months.

Ms. Le Guin embraced the standard themes of her chosen genres: sorcery and dragons, spaceships and planetary conflict. But even when her protagonists are male, they avoid the macho posturing of so many science fiction and fantasy heroes. The conflicts they face are typically rooted in a clash of cultures and resolved more by conciliation and self-sacrifice than by swordplay or space battles.

Her books have been translated into more than 40 languages and have sold millions of copies worldwide. Several, including The Left Hand of Darkness — set on a planet where the customary gender distinctions do not apply — have been in print for almost 50 years. Critic Harold Bloom lauded Ms. Le Guin as "a superbly imaginative creator and major stylist" who "has raised fantasy into high literature for our time."

In addition to her more than 20 novels, she was the author of a dozen books of poetry, more than 100 short stories (collected in multiple volumes), seven collections of essays, 13 books for children and five volumes of translation, including the Tao Te Ching of Lao Tzu and selected poems by Chilean Nobel Prize winner Gabriela Mistral. She also wrote a guide for writers.

She was born Ursula Kroeber in Berkeley, Calif., on Oct. 21, 1929, the youngest of four children.

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