UKLG’s Lathe of Heaven

3rd February 2018 2189 views


Scarcely was my first SF novel, The Embedding, in print in July 1973 than redoubtable Darko Suvin hunted me to contribute to  Science-Fiction Studies, newly launched that same Spring. Darko’s formidable, ideological journal was planning special issues on authors with a “K” as their middle initial, such as Philip Dick and Ursula le Guin. (Back at the beginning, S-F Studies had a hyphen; no typos here. And R.D. Mullen was the other editor.) Darko wooed me to London by train for lunch with him, in the event a basic pizza at a utilitarian caff beside his economical hotel; the revolution must come first, and I seem to recall paying for the meal, but I was used to such unluxury due to dallying with the Trotskyist Socialist Labour League.

My essay which resulted, “Le Guin’s Lathe of Heaven and the Role of Dick: The False Reality as Mediator“, appeared in issue #5 of S-FS in March 1975—available here:

But prior to that I received Ursula’s comments on my pre-final draft, and readers might relish her remarks. I know that she prefixes with “Not for print!” but that was 44 years ago, and scholars might be interested. (Not long afterwards, Dick and Le Guin had become so much a part of the academic pantheon that Peter Nicholls as editor of Foundation: The Review of Science Fiction and myself as Features Editor resolved to reject all further submissions about UKLG and Taoism or whatever else because this was sheer bandwagon. All the possible papers about Finnegans Wake had been published, but lo, here was terra incognita: science fiction—or at least the main peaks. (I almost wrote “Twin Peaks”.)

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