While the deaths of MES and Hugh Masekala have, not surprisingly, been mentioned here, I’ve seen nothing on that of Ursula K Le Guin, which had a more profound affect on me. Let me put that right now.
Her SF novels such as The Dispossessed and Left Hand of Darkness (which I suspect were a strong influence on Iain M Banks) brought something new and thoughtful to a testosterone- dominated genre. Her Earthsea books are probably the best known and those stories of a young child going off to a school for wizards may have been an influence on … ah, you’re ahead of me.
However, it’s her short stories that I love the most. My absolute favourite is The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas (if i’ve Done this right, there should be a link to it included). I first read this in my teens and it had a very strong affect on me. To this day, it’s a yardstick that I measure my life by: am I walking away from Omelas? If you’ve never read it, please do – it’s 4 pages of brilliant writing that will more than repay the time it takes.
And, as always when I write about something here, I’m conscious that there are those who are better informed and/or better writers – so please don’t feel shy about adding to this and acknowledging the death of this major talent.