Authors have paid tribute to Ursula K Le Guin as "a literary icon" following the American fantasy novelist's death on Monday afternoon (22nd January).
Le Guin was 88 when she died peacefully at her home in Portland, Oregon, following a period of ill health. She wrote more than 20 novels and over 100 short stories over the course of her career, writing mainly in the genres of fantasy and science fiction, as well as children's books, poetry and non-fiction.
Le Guin was best known for her illustrated Earthsea fantasy series, begun in 1968 with A Wizard of Earthsea (Gollancz): a tale of wizards, dragons and terrifying shadows. She also was only the second female author to win a Hugo Award for science fiction and fantasy writing in 1970 for The Left Hand of Darkness (Gollancz), a book exploring gender politics and set on the planet Gethen, a world perpetually in winter. In total she won five Hugo awards, also for her 1972 novella The Word for World is Forest and 1974 utopian science fiction novel The Dispossessed (Gollancz).
Stephen King said in tribute on Twitter: "Usula K. LeGuin, one of the greats, has passed. Not just a science fiction writer; a literary icon. Godspeed into the galaxy."
Author Neil Gaiman, who presented le Guin with the National Book Foundation’s lifetime achievement award, commented: "Her words are always with us. Some of them are written on my soul. I miss her as a glorious funny prickly person, & I miss her as the deepest and smartest of the writers, too."
Stephen Fry called her "one of the greats" while sci-fi writer Joe Abercrombie commented on hearing of her passing it was "terrible news". "Wizard of Earthsea had a huge impact on me as a kid. Read it to my daughter recently. Just as good as ever," added Abercrombie.
Malcolm Edwards, chairman at Gollancz, commented: "Ursula was Gollancz’s longest-serving author. She joined the list in 1971, and finished copies of her latest book arrived, with bitter irony, this morning. She was also our most admired author – admired by her readers, and admired by everyone who had the pleasure of working with her. She was a good-humoured, gracious and kind author, whose gentle exterior did not entirely mask her iron will. We will miss her immeasurably."
In 2015, Orion imprint Gollancz embarked on a far-reaching backlist publishing project with Le Guin, publishing classics including A Wizard of Earthsea and The Dispossessed in e-book form for the first time. Since 1998, she has sold 260,960 copies of her books for £2.26m through Nielsen BookScan.