UKLG’s Lathe of Heaven

3rd February 2018 2 comments2680 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”.)


  1. Thank you for posting Le Guin’s response. She is the kind of author whose work I would like to have analysed – mine was Inge Eriksen (1935-2015). I have done what I suggested at a con 100 years ago & you said you did not believe in it, a slow, philosophical – whatever I said. Trotsky in New York is coming out in Danish in a few months. Jewish Book Week say they will love to present it when it is out in Eng. trans. Can you think of a likely publisher or should we go via the usual cultural channels? The first fourth was published as a short story in 2016, and ends ‘Tell him the Tsar said hello.’ In 1923, where he goes to Chicago because I have been there. The note that disappeared the soonest said ‘Is it too much chutzpah to let him meet this couple of biracial law people?’ They come to determine most of the action to follow. It runs to 32,121 words.

    1. Hi Ellen,
      Just saw this. Better late than never. Marcus Gipps, in command of Gollancz, is proud of having previously pioneered Jewish Book Week in London, so here may be a lever for you. I have zero influence myself and am a bit disconnected. Cheers.

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