Ursula K. Le Guin


The Masters

(in ‘The Wind’s Twelve Quarters’)


Hey, Ursula K. Le Guin is deservedly one of the greats, but while capable of nuance, gravity and insight, occasionally she lapses into preachy demonising. Despite history being littered with theist scientists, many of whom were underwritten by the church, and despite living in a context where scientists (myriad theists still among them) are curtailed a world more by the vagaries of funding within capitalist democracies than by any influence of fundamentalists, she generally can only produce laughable stereotypes when it comes to presenting believers (who are all maddened Spanish Inquisitors come to brutally kill anyone with a vaguely rational thought). I suppose she sees idiots within the church (and, sure, there are some, but they are wildly unrepresentative), and opposes their stupid paranoia about science (scientists are all maddened Frankensteins come to infect your babies) with her own stupid paranoia about theology. Mercifully this is only a short story (unlike the extended ludicrous slander of Ben Elton’s Blind Faith – or, to be more bipartisan, that of Elwood’s Angelwalk), but here and there this dumb, divisive propaganda pops up throughout her canon.


August 2014