In Memoriam, Ursula K. LeGuin

9EDBB28F-1438-4032-A184-2015DAD5E517It takes the shiny off everything. Everything. Including the pure shameless pride of being declared a Damon Knight Grand Master by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. All of it.

I’m a good writer. I know that perfectly well, after some sixty years of doing whatever it is I do, and then doing it over. But I’m not shuffling my feet, looking down and mumbling shyly when I say that on my best day, with the wind at my back and the fish biting, I couldn’t have carried Ursula K. LeGuin’s spare gym socks. I know that equally well. Sharing a great honor with her won’t ever change that.

I didn’t know her well. She lived in Portland, and I’ve been all over northern California in the last half-century, with six years out for the Seattle area. We hadn’t yet met when I followed her by a week into the Clarion West workshop (1972, was it?), to be greeted by a note saying, “Welcome, Unicorn! Make the little kobolds work their tails off!) Mostly we ran into each other at various conventions, grabbing coffee where we could. I do like to recall a serious conversation, initiated by me in increasing alarm at having become known more and more, in the intervening years, as the Unicorn Guy. Meanwhile, Ursula’s recently-published Earthsea novels had, as far as I was concerned, put paid to dragons as literary figures: I felt – and still feel – that dragons should be off-limits to all other writers, no matter how gifted or inventive they might be. But I was younger then, and had the chutzpah to offer to trade my unicorns even-up for her dragons. “Unicorns are really easy to housebreak. They always ask to go outside.” I remember that I was even willing to throw in a utility infielder, if she insisted.

Ursula’s response: “Do you know how impossible it is to keep dragons off the curtains? And they’re absolute hell on carpets!” We never did make the deal, but not for my lack of trying. As I say, I was younger then.

I’ve often told the story of appearing onstage with Ursula and Vonda McIntyre in 1975, at Oregon State University in Corvallis, the three of us speaking about being considered genre writers, inhabitants of a certain ghetto: our work generally tolerated – even loved, in certain corners of the ghetto – but almost invariably unrespected as real, proper, literary fiction. Some of the male students in the back of the auditorium began to complain loudly that they’d come to hear talk about ​ good old rocket-jockey science fiction, and not this “shrill feminism!​”​ Ursula, sitting on my left, turned to Vonda on my right, saying severely, “Vonda, I don’t know how many times I’ve told you about being shrill!” Vonda responded calmly, – without missing a beat, “No, Ursula dear – I’m strident. You’re shrill.”

Me? I sat between them, absolutely vain of actually knowing those two women, and trying very hard not to giggle. I can’t honestly remember whether I managed it or not.

In fact, she was never shrill. Fierce, yes. Intense, yes, with a great many things that she wanted to say, since no one else was saying them. Deadpan funny, always, even at her most passionate. Pissed-off, certainly, of course, as she bloody well should have been – as she bloody well needed to be. She meant business, Ursula did, and never a doubt of it. But kind, always, with the angry compassion of her Space Crone. Forever fiercely, stubbornly kind.

In my introduction to the 2017 Tachyon anthology New Voices of Fantasy, I wrote:

“Years ago, knowing that I was scheduled to speak at the annual meeting of [SFWA]…Ursula LeGuin​,​ wisest of us all, warned me as follows: ‘Remember that most of your audience will be drunk by the time you get up to speak, and remember always that all of us feel, to one degree or another, that mainstream fiction has been stealing our ideas – and even our classic cliches – for generations, and selling them back to us as Magic Realism. Tell them that, loudly and repeatedly, and the ones who can still stand up will be buying you drinks all night. And never forget that this is a small, highly incestuous group, and a lot of people have been married to, or sleeping. with other members of the group – so watch what you say.'”

There’s nothing I can say about her now that isn’t all over the Internet today, and won’t be providing endless exhausting doctorates, seminars, fellowships and festivals tomorrow, and in the years to come. She was the master. She still is. She lived as full and honorable a life as anyone could have, and she got her work done. But I don’t believe for a minute that she ever thought she’d gotten her work done. The truly great ones never do. There’s always more.

Photo is used under a Creative Commons license from Wikipedia.

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Connor Cochran files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy

I was not at all surprised to learn that Connor Cochran and his Ariosto companies filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on January 4, just one day before trial was scheduled to begin in Peter‘s lawsuit against his former manager.

As you likely knew by know, Peter’s sued Cochran in 2015 for $52 million in damages, disgorgement of illegal gains and restitution, and to dissolve the two corporations he co-owns with Cochran, Avicenna Development Corporation, and Conlan Press.

Cochran filed with United States Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of California. The details are public record. Needless to say the trial against he who I call the Rat Bastard (a term he told me in an email he thinks is unfair) is delayed.

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The Rat Bastard Loses: Cochran’s countersuit against Peter is Thrown Out!

Fantastic news for those rooting for Peter S. Beagle in his lawsuit against his former business manager, Connor Cochran! On Tuesday, November 7th 2017, the Superior Court of Alameda County threw out Cochran’s countersuit against Peter. It was dismissed with prejudice, which means Cochran can’t try it again. Peter’s suit against Cochran continues. The trial will begin as scheduled on January 5th, 2018.

In English instead of Legalese: Peter Beagle sued Connor Cochran for $52M. Connor tried countersuing. The judge looked at the list of documents and records Cochran had failed to produce under the court’s order to do so.

Cochran’s suit against Peter is done. The Court has thrown it out, calling Cochran’s behavior “unusual and egregious”.

Here’s the official public judgement. It’s a thing of beauty. Enjoy!

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Kickstarter for new The Last Unicorn merchandise

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Geekify Inc is running a Kickstarter campaign for new Last Unicorn merchandise, starting with pins, posters and a beautifully illustrated tarot deck with illustrations such as The Star and The Devil which you can see respectively at the right and the left of the above illustration. This is licensed directly from ITV; in addition, Geekify has generously agreed to donate a small portion of the proceeds to Peter directly, so go right ahead and back it on Kickstarter here.

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Oh My: The Lastest Court Filing

As Peter’s lawsuit against his former manager gets closer to its January court date, look for the public filings to start coming closer together. This latest filing is detailed and really illuminating read.

You can read the filing here.

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On Rat Bastards, An Update on What’s Happening

For fans and supporters of Peter S. Beagle who may have wondered what has been happening with Peter’s lawsuit against his former manager, Beagle Filing 073117 is the latest filing by Peter’s lawyer. This Motion For Preliminary Injunction was filed on July 26, 2017. It asks the court to stop Conlan Press, or any of its agents, from selling and profiting from any of Peter’s work.

We highly recommend settling in with a bowl of popcorn and a tall cold one, and reading all of it. If you’re a fan or supporter of Peter’s, this will give you a look at the damage being done to him.

Please link, share, and let people know. This is a public filing, so let’s make it public!

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Peter S. Beagle’s ‘None But The Harper’

“I am no king, and I am no lord.
And I am no soldier at arms,” said he.
“I am none but a harper, and a very poor harper
That has come hither to wed with thee.”

Peter S. Beagle’s ‘None But The Harper’

Usually whoever of us is writing the weekly edition up would give you a song or tune as the coda to the edition. And so it is this week but we’ve got a treat for you that’s just a bit different — Peter S. Beagle, author and composer and musician, singing ‘None But The Harper’ which he wrote about the same time as The Last Unicorn which would be in the late Sixties! When it was recorded is not at all clear but his voice and playing is quite superb, so let’s listen to ‘None But The Harper’.

 

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Peter’s Social Media

Just a reminder to people that Peter’s only social media link to fans is his Facebook page, The Real Peter S. Beagle – accept no substitutes!  He has no access or connection to any other FB pages, websites save this one, or Twitter accounts, all run by his former business manager.

This is a page moderated by friends, who are in contact with Peter, and keep him apprised of comments, and is being used to let fans know about Peter’s books, stories, and author appearances. Like us on Facebook @TheRealPeterSBeagle.

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Ready for more new fiction from Peter?

Tachyon Publishing sent along an email about the next novel from Peter which comes out in Modwinter when, if you’re like me, you’ll be craving something rather good to read!

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imageIn Calabria by Peter S. Beagle

ISBN: 978-1-61696-248-7 Published: February 2017 Available Format(s): Hardcover ($19.95) and Digital Books ($9.99)

Description

From the acclaimed author of The Last Unicorn and Summerlong comes a new, exquisitely-told fable for the modern age.

Claudio Bianchi has lived alone for many years on a hillside in Southern Italy’s scenic Calabria. Set in his ways and suspicious of outsiders, Claudio has always resisted change, preferring farming and writing poetry to the company of others. But one chilly morning, an impossible visitor appears at the farm. When Claudio comes to her aid, an act of kindness throws his world into chaos. Suddenly he must stave off inquisitive onlookers, invasive media, and even more sinister influences.

Lyrical, gripping, and wise, In Calabria confirms Peter S. Beagle’s continuing legacy as one of fantasy’s most legendary authors.

 

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Peter on his favorite folk song

Our post is rather special this time as it’s Peter on his favorite song or tune:

I know way too many folk songs to have a special favorite, Cat. Besides, I’m not always sure what counts as a folk song. Big Bill Broonzy used to say, ‘I guess all songs is folk songs – I never heard no horse sing one.’ When Merle Travis was asked to write an album’s worth of folk songs and explained to the producer that you don’t write folk songs – they just sort of spring up, like grass – the producer replied, ‘Well, then write some stuff that sounds like folk songs.” Travis came up with, among others, ‘Sixteen Tons’ and ‘Dark As A Dungeon,’ which any number of people still present as a folk song. And Aristide Bruant (Toulouse-Lautrec’s buddy, the guy in the black hat and red scarf) wrote ‘Sur La Route De Louviers’ – I don’t know how many times I heard that as a folk song in Berkeley, in the old days…’

I do love the haunting old French song ”A La Claire Fontaine,’ and my friend Phil and I still love to sing ‘The Miller of Dee’ when we get together. But if I had to pick just one, it might be a strange, utterly surrealistic tune called ‘Nottymun Town’ that I picked up from Jean Ritchie. I’m teaching it, on the rare occasions we’re able to jam together, to the guys of Emerald Rose, a great Celtic band, who could do it justice.

And then there’s wonderful ‘Tumbalalaika’ in Yiddish, and ‘La Llorona’ in Spanish…But in the end, my favorite song of all is still ‘Au Bois De Mon Coeur,’ which is not a folk song, but was written by Georges Brassens – so there you are. Go figure…

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