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Ursula K. Le Guin + Your Science (Fiction)

Ursula K. Le Guin was an American author renowned for her speculative fiction works, including works set in different universes and the Earthsea fantasy series.

In this AT HOME ART DATE, you will take Le Guin’s passion for other worlds and her hero, Charles Darwin’s famous theory, to create your own story.

(element one): READ these Ursula Le Guin quotes from The Paris Review of Fall, 2013.

“I want to recognize something I never saw before. This means you recognize the things around you more deeply, but they also seem new. So the seeing-as-new and recognition are the same thing.”

“That’s the whole point of telling a story. You’re on a journey—you’re going from here to there. When I create another planet, another world, with a society on it, I try to hint at the complexity of the society I’m creating, instead of just referring to an empire or something like that.”

What it is that draws you to this “trying on” of other existences?

“The experience of the “other” - A lot of people never have it, or don’t take the chance when offered. Everybody in the industrial nations now sees “others” on the TV, and so on, but that’s not the same as living with them. A novelist is always “trying on” other people.”

(element two): WATCH Charles Darwin’s Theory of Evolution Explained. As the child of a prominent anthropologist, Le Guin became delighted with all the social sciences. She said, “If I had to pick a hero, it would be Charles Darwin—the size of his mind, which included all that scientific curiosity and knowledge-seeking, and the ability to put it all together.”

(element three): WRITE your story in a journal or diary form. For this art date, let’s assume that much of Le Guin’s writing has to do with something I’ll call Extreme Evolution.

Imagine that you witness your protagonist wake up to a world that has experienced Extreme Evolution. What is this world like? Has it happened to your protagonist, or are they as they were when they went to sleep? Think of the five senses - touch, sight, hearing, smell, and taste. Is this world dangerous? How does your protagonist respond to this new world? Remember Le Guin's quote: "I want to recognize something I never saw before."

Use this story spine to help get you started.

The story spine is a technique from improvisational theater created by Kenn Adams, author of How to Improvise a Full-Length Play: The Art of Spontaneous Theater. It was popularized for storytelling by Pixar Story Artist Emma Coats.

Here’s the story spine:

Once upon a time there was a person named ___________________ (protagonist).

Every day, this person would ________________.

Until one day, this person woke up to _________________.

Because of that, ___________.

Because of that, ____________.

Because of that, ____________.

(use as many “because of that”s as you wish)

Until finally ______________.

The moral of this story is ________________________.

Try to write a paragraph for each of your story spine sentences.


Well done, artist!

I hope you find Ursula K. Le Guin and Your Science (Fiction) a compelling At Home Art Date.

I curate provocative AT HOME ART DATES for you to enjoy solo or with others in your own home. Many of these art dates have online elements combined with supplemental reading, listening, and a variety of activities you can do at home to enhance how you express and experience art. Feel free to forward these art dates to others. Remember to check out the bonus material below.

These AT HOME ART DATES are free of charge. However, they do take time, energy, and a lifetime of artistic experience to put together. If you’d like to buy me a cup of tea as a bit of thanks, I’d appreciate your generosity.

You can also learn more about my upcoming Artistic Clarity online courses, Gimme Culture and Creative Dice here on my website.



Bonus Material:

From my 2019 blog: Ursula Le Guin Made Time

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