I knew of Ursula’s longstanding love of Steens Mountain in the remote high desert of the farthest corner of southeastern Oregon, a landscape that had informed the world of her novel The Tombs of Atuan, as well as her poetry-photography collaborative collection Out Here.
—David Naimon, Ursula K. Le Guin: Conversations on Writing (Portland, Ore.: Tin House Books, 2018), p. 53
Steens Mountain’s summit, at 9,733 feet, is the highest point of Harney County. It’s been on my to-visit list for a while but hasn’t really bubbled up to the top due to, as mentioned, its sheer remoteness; the nearest town with a gas station is Burns, about ninety miles away. The Tombs of Atuan mention makes it an even more intriguing visit though, as does the mention of incredible local stargazing. (I really need to remember to bring my binoculars on my car-camping trips; the last truly dark skies I saw were at Hinkey Summit, in remote northwestern Nevada, and they were spectacular.)
I use “Steens Mountain’s summit” advisedly, as the mountain itself is a huge fifty-mile fault block that rises directly from the nearby Alvord Desert, five thousand feet below. Beyond the Alvord Desert is the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, which you may remember from the 2016 occupation of its headquarters by armed seditionists. Or “Right-Wing Loonybirds”, as Le Guin called them.
I’ll write about something other than just books acquired at some point, I promise. Just haven’t had time lately.
Kind of a quiet library book sale this week:
Bova, Ben (editor). The Science Fiction Hall of Fame, Volume Two B. Doubleday, 1973. SFBC hardcover. Second in a set of what SFWA considered to be the best science fiction novellas that predated the Nebula Awards. It’ll sit next to Volume Two A on my shelf.
Brin, David. Infinity’s Shore. Bantam Spectra, 1996. First edition hardcover. Second in the Uplift Storm trilogy. No. 745 on Mt. Tsundoku.
Kuttner, Henry. The Best of Henry Kuttner. Nelson Doubleday, 1975. First edition SFBC hardcover. Predates the trade edition by two months. Another in the Ballantine Classic Science Fiction series, and fortuitously acquired in time to do some Retro Hugo reading—this includes both “Mimsy Were the Borogoves” and “The Proud Robot”.
Dragging the local used book stores for this year’s Hugo finalists finally turned up something!
Nevala-Lee, Alec. Astounding: John W. Campbell, Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein, L. Ron Hubbard, and the Golden Age of Science Fiction. Dey Street, 2018. First edition hardcover. Hugo finalist for Best Related Work. I nominated this, and I think it’s exactly the kind of thing the Related Work category should be showcasing. A look at the origins of American science fiction viewed through the life of Astounding editor John W. Campbell and those he influenced.
On the way back home from Brushy Peak on Sunday I hit up a couple of library bookstores on the off chance they had anything good. I like to do this when I have time because library “books for sale” sections are both extremely cheap and (when non-local) I haven’t picked them clean recently. The result, from Livermore for $1:
Tuchman, Barbara W. The Guns of August. Macmillan, 1962. Third printing of the first edition hardcover. Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction. Replaces a paperback copy. Unfortunately price-clipped, but other than that a quite decent hardcover copy. Obviously this should not be your first stop for an understanding of the causes of the First World War (the historical analysis has not aged well) but a classic non-fiction read nonetheless.
And of course while in the area I had to check Half Price Books:
Dick, Philip K. Martian Time-Slip. Ballantine, 1964. First edition mass-market paperback. A classic Dick novel about a Martian colony, expanded from a 1963 novella. No 140 on Mt. Tsundoku.