Letter to The Oregonian, published February 1, 2017:
A recent letter in The Oregonian compares a politician’s claim to tell “alternative facts” to the inventions of science fiction. The comparison won’t work. We fiction writers make up stuff. Some of it clearly impossible, some of it realistic, but none of it real – all invented, imagined — and we call it fiction because it isn’t fact. We may call some of it “alternative history” or “an alternate universe,” but make absolutely no pretense that our fictions are “alternative facts.”
Facts aren’t all that easy to come by. Honest scientists and journalists, among others, spend a lot of time trying to make sure of them. The test of a fact is that it simply is so – it has no “alternative.” The sun rises in the east. To pretend the sun can rise in the west is a fiction, to claim that it does so as fact (or “alternative fact”) is a lie.
A lie is a non-fact deliberately told as fact. Lies are told in order to reassure oneself, or to fool, or scare, or manipulate others. Santa Claus is a fiction. He’s harmless. Lies are seldom completely harmless, and often very dangerous. In most times, most places, by most people, liars are considered contemptible. — Ursula K. Leguin
I’m so old, my introduction to LeGuin was a third or fourth printing of the Ace Double Rocannon’s World, which I picked up because I was a major Andre Norton fan. When I discovered sf fandom in college, there were still malefen ready to explain that LeGuin wasn’t really an sf/fantasy writer — just a nice older lady who wrote “safe fairy tales for school librarians”. That was before The Left Hand of Darkness became… canon.
Ursula K. LeGuin, outside category, walked away from the sanitized, “civilized” communities of every literary genre she touched. She never explicitly set out to lead the rest of us away from those settled mental landscapes, but anyone walking with such determination and sparkle will always attract a following among the curious and the discontent…
She taught me that age was experience and not something to be afraid of. So much so that I wanted to be in my 40’s even then, living a life of creativity and adventure.
— Beth LaPensée (@odaminowin) January 24, 2018