A biweekly series, The Ursula K. Le Guin Reread explores anew the transformative writing, exciting worlds, and radical stories that changed countless lives. This week we’ll be covering Le Guin’s novel The Beginning Place (1980). My edition is the 2018 Tor trade paperback.
We begin a new year in the Le Guin Reread with a new decade in Le Guin’s career. At this point, by 1980, Le Guin was regarded as a master of both science fiction and fantasy. She had written her most famous novels, and with the exception of Always Coming Home (1985) and Tehanu (1990), her career is still remembered retrospectively today as having been cemented by the work she did between A Wizard of Earthsea (1968) and The Dispossessed (1974). Yet as we’ve seen throughout this reread, Le Guin’s career as a writer and thinker was far more varied than just the “highlights” of her career; the work she did in her later decades—she turned 51 in 1980—took more nuanced shapes, covered old terrain with new insights, and occasionally rethought some of the political and literary decisions she’d made in her earlier works.