Ursula K. Le Guin, a novelist best known for her prolific output, including the Earthsea series and “The Left Hand of Darkness,” died Monday. She was 88. In more than 20 novels and innumerable short stories, Le Guin used science fiction and fantasy to address some of Earth’s toughest realities, including inequality. She was awarded the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters at the 2014 National Book Awards, where she delivered a rousing, some might say, foretelling, speech.
“Hard times are coming, when we’ll be wanting the voices of writers who can see alternatives to how we live now, can see through our fear-stricken society and its obsessive technologies to other ways of being and even imagine real grounds for hope. We’ll need writers who can remember freedom – poets, visionaries – realists of a larger reality.”
Ursula spoke with Forum on Sept. 28, 2000. Here is that interview, published online for the first time.
Former military strategist Daniel Ellsberg, famous for releasing the Pentagon Papers, a top-secret study of U.S. involvement in Vietnam, calls the United States’ nuclear weapons policy “dizzyingly insane and immoral.” In his new memoir, “Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner,” Ellsberg chronicles his years spent as a nuclear policy analyst, which included the near miss of the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. Ellsberg joins us to discuss his new book and why he calls for more risk-reduction measures around nuclear weapons. We’ll also get his thoughts on the new movie, “The Post,” which dramatizes the Washington Post’s decision to publish the Pentagon Papers in 1971.
When journalist Scott Tong moved to Shanghai to open a China bureau for the radio show “Marketplace,” he also seized the opportunity to reconnect with his extended family. Tong discovered that their stories reflect the radical changes and political shifts modern China has undergone. He joins us in the studio to talk about his book, “A Village with My Name: A Family History of China’s Opening to the World.”
Scott Tong, correspondent for Marketplace; author, “A Village with My Name: A Family History of China’s Opening to the World”
Known as a founding father of virtual reality, Jaron Lanier reflects on the beginnings of the ever-evolving technology industry in “Dawn of the New Everything.” The book follows Lanier’s journey through the early days of Silicon Valley, with guest appearances by Marvin Minsky, Al Gore and William Gibson. Lanier also writes about how the shocking, tragic loss of his mother fed his passion for art and science. We’ll hear Lanier’s personal story, and discuss the tension between what Lanier calls the technology skeptics and the technology utopians.
Jaron Lanier, author, “Dawn of the New Everything: Encounters with Reality and Virtual Reality”
In 1918, the U.S. Army Signal Corps sent 223 womento France to help the American communications effort during World War I. Known as “Hello Girls,” the women wore uniforms, swore the Army oath and worked complex switchboards that connected the front lines with the military command. Some worked within range of mortar fire. But despite their service, the women spent 60 years fighting for veteran status. Historian Elizabeth Cobbs joins us to tell their story, and how it was linked with the suffrage movement at the time.
Elizabeth Cobbs, chair in American History, Texas A&M University; author, “The Hello Girls: America’s First Women Soldiers”
Uncertain times are “the perfect place to deepen the practice of awakening,” writes the longtime Buddhist teacher Jack Kornfield. Kornfield’s latest book, “No Time Like the Present: Finding Freedom, Love, and Joy Right Where You Are,” offers advice on finding freedom from worry, anxiety and want. The founder of Marin’s Spirit Rock meditation center, Kornfield joins us to discuss his new book and share what he’s learned as a longtime practitioner of Buddhism and mindfulness.
Jack Kornfield, author, “No Time Like the Present: Finding Freedom, Love, and Joy Right Where You Are”
After several people close to him died in quick succession, best-selling author and self-improvement maven Tim Ferriss says he began to rethink his own priorities. To help in his self-exploration, Ferriss sought wisdom from the artists, athletes and entrepreneurs he admired most. Their advice, on everything from the best morning routines to dealing with information overload, forms the basis for his new book “Tribe of Mentors.” And we want to hear from you: What changes will you make in the new year?
Tim Ferriss, author, “Tribe of Mentors: Short Life Advice from the Best in the World” and “The 4-Hour Workweek”
Walter Isaacson offered insight to the mind of the iconic Apple founder with his bestselling 2011 biography “Steve Jobs.” He’s also written biographies on Albert Einstein, Benjamin Franklin and Henry Kissinger. His new book goes back in time to look at a different kind of creative genius: Leonardo da Vinci. The longtime journalist and president of the Aspen Institute joins us to talk about the man who sketched flying machines when people still relied on horses and carts, and envisioned a different kind of future.
Walter Isaacson, author of “Leonardo da Vinci”; president and CEO, the Aspen Institute
Andy Weir self-published “The Martian” on his personal website in 2011. A publisher snapped up the rights, and his pet project made it to the New York Times best-seller list and went on to become an Oscar-nominated film. His new book “Artemis” looks at a fictional colony on the moon, where a female, black-market smuggler embarks on hijinks and adventure. Weir joins us to talk about “Artemis,” researching space exploration and his life since “The Martian” launched him to fame.
A new book by former U.S. ambassador to Austria Swanee Hunt profiles 90 women who were key figures in rebuilding Rwanda after the 1994 genocide. From entrepreneurs to lawmakers, “Rwandan Women Rising” highlights females who upend the narrative that women in war zones are only victims. Hunt joins us to discuss her book, and how Rwanda became one of Africa’s most stable countries.
Swanee Hunt, author, “Rwandan Women Rising”; founder, Inclusive Security
Former CBS news anchor Dan Rather has interviewed every president since Dwight Eisenhower, and he says the state of the current presidency is not normal. Now 86, Rather reflects on America’s founding principles in his new book of essays, “What Unites Us: Reflections on Patriotism.” Rather’s latest media venture, News and Guts, posts stories on Facebook that reach upwards of 25 million people. He joins us in studio to talk about politics, why he thinks the free press is facing a “state of crisis” and what he’s done since leaving CBS in 2005 due to flawed reporting about then-President George W. Bush’s military service during the Vietnam War.
UC Berkeley Professor Matthew Walker has consulted for the NBA, the NFL and Pixar — all on sleep. Sleep can impact everything from food cravings to the likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Yet human beings are the only species that “deprive themselves of sleep for no sound reason,” Walker says. Walker joins us to talk about the impact of sleep deprivation, how to improve your sleep cycle and his new book “Why We Sleep.”
Matthew Walker, professor of psychology and neuroscience, UC Berkeley; author, “Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams”
At the 2016 Democratic National Convention, Khizr Khan held a copy of the constitution and spoke out against then-candidate Donald Trump’s proposal to ban Muslims from entering the U.S. Trump criticized Khan soon after. Khan is a U.S. citizen and Gold Star father: His son, Capt. Humayun Khan, was killed in Iraq by a suicide bomb attack. Khan joins us in-studio to discuss how his altercation with Trump catapulted him to fame, and his new memoir “An American Family.”
Khizr Khan, author, “An American Family: A Memoir of Hope and Sacrifice”
Innovations like surgical robots, telemedicine and targeted cancer therapies offer the promise of breakthrough medical treatments. But what if medicine’s obsession with new technology is really making healthcare worse? That’s among the questions UCSF’s Victoria Sweet examines in her new book “Slow Medicine: The Way to Healing.” For Sweet, a former doctor at San Francisco’s Laguna Honda Hospital, “slow medicine” means taking the time to truly connect with patients. She joins us in the studio.
Victoria Sweet, associate clinical professor of medicine, UCSF; author, “Slow Medicine: The Way to Healing”