Ursula K. Le Guin, a writer, influencer, and ultra GOAT, published her first work in the 1960s, her work usually will depict fantasy or imaginary alternative worlds involving politics, the natural environment, gender, religion, and sexuality. In 2016, The New York Times described her as “America’s greatest living science fiction writer”, although she herself has said she would prefer to be known as an “American novelist”. Being the goat she is, she was made a Grand Master of Science Fiction in 2003. Only a handful of women writers to take the top honor in a genre that has been mostly dominated by male writers. (Le Guin is obviously THE GOAT). Le Guin has resided in Portland, Oregon since 1959.
“The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas”
“The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas” is arguably one of the greatest short stories in science fiction. This short story tells of a utopia, one that is altruistic. It opens in the middle of a summer festival. We see the people are living in perfect bliss, and with the type of happiness portrayed it implies a kind of innocence and foolishness. It llacks the complexities that are most often attributed to pain and evil impulses.
The people may lack certain things that others have, but they do not feel that lack as a deprivation. These people have come to an understanding of what is necessary, what is destructive, and what is both or neither. Those things that are necessary, they have. Those luxuries that are neither necessary nor destructive, they also have. Omelas is a joyful city inhabited by mature, intelligent, passionate adults. Their lives are not wretched, nor are they puritanical.
The city has a guarantee of happiness; it has struck a bargain, although how and with whom it is not clear. The bargain is this: In a room under the city is a stunted, frightened, half-starved child, and everyone over adolescence in Omelas knows that the child is there. The child is locked in a closet and shown off to those who wish to see it.
The story shows that all things do not come freely, they all have a cost. This story is captivating and hooks you even after the end.