1492 – Always Coming Home: A sonic journey from Kesh (2020)

Some of the Places and Peoples Known to the Kesh, 1985 © Ursula K. Le Guin. Courtesy of Curtis Brown, Ltd

I finally realized that if I was ever going to find any words in which I could tell stories about my world, if I was ever going to approach the center of the world in my writing, I was going to have to take lessons from the people who lived there, who had always lived there, the people who were the land—the old ones, the first ones, trees, rocks, animals, human people. I was going to have to be very quiet, and learn to listen to them. (Le Guin, 1988/2019: 751)

Music and poetry of the Kesh by Ursula K. Le Guin & Todd Barton was released on bandcamp in 2018

Music and Poetry of the Kesh is the documentation of an invented Pacific Coast peoples from a far distant time, and the soundtrack of famed science fiction author, Ursula K. Le Guin’s Always Coming Home. In the novel, the story of Stone Telling, a young woman of the Ksh, is woven within a larger anthropological folklore and fantasy. (from bandcamp)

The ways of the Kesh were originally presented in 1985 as a five hundred plus page book accompanied with illustrations of instruments and tools, maps, a glossary of terms, recipes, poems, an alphabet (Le Guin’s conlang, so she could write non-English lyrics), and with early editions, a cassette of “field recordings” and indigenous song. Le Guin wanted to hear the people she’d imagined; she embarked on an elaborate process with her friend Todd Barton to invoke their spirit and tradition.

Always coming home is a musical feature by NTS radio with words words by Andrea Zarza Canova, various field recordings and a tracklist based on the above and the book by Ursula K LeGuin Always coming home. Original is here

Upon reading Always Coming Home by Ursula K. Le Guin, one feels as though entering an anthropological museum filled with artefacts from a past civilization; we can discover maps charting where the Kesh lived, drawings and descriptions of the plants, trees and rivers that surrounded them; collections of recipes and descriptions of how they dressed; detailed notes explaining their society, kinship, sexuality, medicine and funerary rites; folk tales, plays, poems, stories and descriptions of rites and rituals, with detailed descriptions of what their instruments looked and sounded like.

Pandora is the archaeologist, historian and anthropologist who describes the Kesh in this ethnographic account of a non-existent civilization. For both us readers and Pandora, also referred to as the Editor, the Kesh exist in the future, in a post-apocalyptic California. A note at the beginning of the book makes us aware of this with a complex use of verbal tenses—“The people in this book might be going to have lived a long, long time from now in Northern California”. This note is one of the few occasions where we hear Le Guin’s voice, for Always Coming Home is instead a patchwork of Kesh voices that come to life through poems, songs, storytelling, oral histories and a novel, collected or recounted by the narrator Pandora. (fragment from text by Andrea Zarza Canova)

1491 – Worlds of Ursula K. LeGuin (2018)

a documentary by Arwen Curry

Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin is a feature documentary exploring the remarkable life and legacy of the late feminist author Ursula K. Le Guin. Best known for groundbreaking science fiction and fantasy works such as A Wizard of Earthsea, The Left Hand of Darkness, and The Dispossessed, Le Guin defiantly held her ground on the margin of “respectable” literature until the sheer excellence of her work, at long last, forced the mainstream to embrace fantastic literature. Her fascinating story has never before been captured on film.

Produced with Le Guin’s participation over the course of a decade, Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin is a journey through the writer’s career and her worlds, both real and fantastic. Viewers will join the writer on an intimate journey of self-discovery as she comes into her own as a major feminist author, opening new doors for the imagination and inspiring generations of women and other marginalized writers along the way. The film features stunning animation and reflections by literary luminaries including Margaret Atwood, Neil Gaiman, David Mitchell, Michael Chabon, and more.

Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin was created with the generous support of the National Endowment for the Humanities, California Humanities, the Berkeley Film Foundation etc (description taken from the original website of the documentary)

The documentary is truly one of the best I have seen dedicated to an author, the more to such an incredible and inspiring one such as Ursula K LeGuin. Take some time to explore her website https://www.ursulakleguin.com/

One of the best documentaries about Sci-Fi indeed and one to carefully and attentively thread along and listen to one of its most cherished authors. It wanders elegantly from personal life, the landscapes that shaped her novels, the childhood memories, her rise and response in Sci-fi fandom and canon, her relation, acknowledgment and understanding of the first nation people genocide in the Americas and in particular her knowledge of indigenous peoples of California.

It also combines some really great animation work that blends in very well with her world building. There are in fact very few movies based on her actual work.

To her previous mentioned works I would like to add The Lathe of Heaven about dreaming and the universe (also a movie) and the wonderful short story The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas. Also mentioned in the documentary is her 1985 experimental work Always Returning Home written and situated in the Napa Valley, a speculative anthropology works and tapes made by a future ethnographer and anthropologist Pandora with the rituals, the musical instruments, chants and language of a post-apocalyptic people named the Kesh, a sort of anarcho-primitivist tribe that combines elements of hunterer-gatherers, agricultural and industrial civilization while rejecting city building.

1450 – Welcome to the Greenhouse: New Science Fiction on Climate Change (2011 short story anthology)

In Welcome to the Greenhouse, award-winning editor Gordon Van Gelder has brought together sixteen speculative [climate fiction (cli-fi)] stories by some of the most imaginative writers of our time. Terrorists, godlike terraformers, and humans both manipulative and hapless populate these pages. The variety of stories reflects the possibilities of our future: grim, hopeful, fantastic and absurd.

Included is new work by Brian W. Aldiss, Jeff Carlson, Judith Moffett, Matthew Hughes, Gregory Benford, Michael Alexander, Bruce Sterling, Joseph Green, Pat MacEwen, Alan Dean Foster, David Prill, George Guthridge, Paul Di Filippo, Chris Lawson, Ray Vukcevich and M. J. Locke.

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1405 – One Strange Rock (Documentary | TV Series 2018– )

One Strange Rock is an American television documentary series, produced by Nutopia in conjunction with Darren Aronofsky, which premiered on National Geographic on March 26, 2018. On July 25, 2018, National Geographic renewed the series for a second season, which is set to premiere sometime in 2019.  

One Strange Rock tells the story of how life survives and thrives on planet Earth, as told by eight astronauts from their unique perspective of being away from Earth (for about 1000 days). Hosted by actor Will Smith, One Strange Rock features contributions from astronauts Chris HadfieldNicole StottJeffrey A. HoffmanMae JemisonLeland MelvinMike MassiminoJerry Linenger, and Peggy Whitson. (wiki)

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