Le Guin unhappy with TV Earthsea


Unreg. Mutant Moderator
Feb 1, 2005
Newcastle, UK
I saw it a few days ago.
It's not a patch on the books but then it takes essentially 4 novels and turns them into 3hrs with adverts so how can it be??
I thought it was far too rushed from beginning to end but it was watchable.
It would have fared better on the big screen with a sensible budget though


A Plume of Smoke
May 10, 2004
The Road
I was entertained by it. I wish that there was more epic fantasy movies out there. I suppose I have to content myself with the big budget historical movies.

Scott Grady

New Member
Oct 26, 2006
This article may not be the original one, but it appears to be on the same theme.

See "A Whitewashed Earthsea: How the Sci Fi Channel wrecked my books. By Ursula K. Le Guin"

As a new user of this forum I'm not allowed to post a link. So let me just say that it is on slate.com and /id/2111107/

In case the full article does not linger for long at that link, or you can't get to that page due to lack of a coherent URL, I'll reproduce a bit of it here to give the proper flavor ...
"I don't know what the film is about. It's full of scenes from the story, arranged differently, in an entirely different plot, so that they make no sense."

"When I looked over the script, I realized the producers had no understanding of what the books are about and no interest in finding out. All they intended was to use the name Earthsea, and some of the scenes from the books, in a generic McMagic movie with a meaningless plot based on sex and violence."

"Most of the characters in my fantasy and far-future science fiction books are not white. They're mixed; they're rainbow."

"I have heard, not often, but very memorably, from readers of color who told me that the Earthsea books were the only books in the genre that they felt included in—and how much this meant to them, particularly as adolescents, when they'd found nothing to read in fantasy and science fiction except the adventures of white people in white worlds. Those letters have been a tremendous reward and true joy to me."​


The Cat
Apr 5, 2006
Curiosity was framed. Ignorance killed the cat.
I love the Earthsea books. They are one of my first introductions to fantasy and so have always held a special place. I've read and re-read them over the years and was therefore quite excited when I heard about the mini-series being made.

It was the most dissapointing thing. All the wonder and magic and complexity of the books had vanished. It was as if everything was happening on fast-forward mode. It was all in all a very annoying and aggravating experience. Perhaps it might have been better done given a larger budget and more hours and closer collaboration with the writer.

If the aim is to make something 'for the masses' then as Teresa pointed out, there are many such tales available and one of those should be choosen. It's a shame to pick a work like Earthsea and then reduce it to a shadow of it's original self.

Like Brian however, I do hope that the mini series leads more people to the books as has happened with both Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter.


Active Member
Mar 14, 2007
It's certainly interesting hearing Le Guin complain about her series being re-imagined, while she herself has reimagined her world and its characters with her second Earthsea trilogy. I guess she feels that she's the only one morally allowed to tinker with her work. Considering how late in her career that she sold the rights, she should have known better.

As it was, the series was certainly more conventional than the books, and therefor less interesting, although not as awful as Ursula suggests, but that's par for the course of the sci-fi channel. They prefer to water down anything they get their hands on.


Well-Known Member
Oct 31, 2006
If you sell the rights, you sell the RIGHTS. That's what they bought and paid for, and you sell it to them. If you want creative control or input then it should be in the sale contract. One should not be surprised what new owners do with their own property.

But yeah it was lame, Sci-fi channel hand knitted movies are usually lame.

Teresa Edgerton

Goblin Princess
Staff member
Nov 1, 2004
But if you read the article, Andrew, you'll see that they made a lot of promises at the time they bought the rights, promises they didn't keep. In addition, the contract did call for her to come on board as a consultant, and then they seem to have completely ignored her input.

I think if someone has been lied to and misled they have a right to complain, even if they made some money off the deal, and even if the lies are not such that they have any legal recourse.


Bitter Giant
Aug 22, 2006
Though it's well and true, she gave rights, she gave her rights out of trust. She expected them to atleast keep some of the core themes of Earthsea, as well as not twisting things around till it loses what sets it apart. Her trust was broken. What sort of a reaction are you expecting? A cheery doodle-dum? What if Harry Potter became emo, smoked marijuana, and had sex with everything that moved? Would Rowling say, "How sweet! I don't mind, not the slightest bit. No siree, I should've expected this."

Yes, legaly I may give over something to you, but if I give it out of trust I certainly hope you won't break it because you are legally entitled to do so. The whole reason I gave it to you was because I trusted you to use it well and take care of it. If you break it, it is within my rights to feel angry.

Robert M. Blevins

Adventure Books
Dec 16, 2004
When I'm not editing or writing, I enjoy fishing,
For those of you who don't know Ursula K...she is a real nice lady who lives near Portland, Oregon. She answers all snail mail, and if you send a request, she will send you (free) five little color postcards with renditions from the front covers of some of her books.
A real classy lady, indeed.
I don't have the link handy, but it's easy to find her official website on google. Contact information for Ms. Leguin is there.

Who's Wee Dug

Well-Known Member
Sep 11, 2006
I should think that anyone who has read the books will be seriously disapointed in the film adaption, and Iwas was so looking forward to seeing it,when I did. :(


Transmural Feline
Oct 15, 2006
Alpha Quadrant
That's a shame. I'd like to do both. The books because I like to read about detailed worlds, the TV mini because I like Alessandro Juliani (Skiorch).


Well-Known Member
Apr 1, 2007
An old thread sure but i read this article Ursula K. Le Guin on the TV Earthsea. - By Ursula K. Le Guin - Slate Magazine just now.

In a thread in another forum about whitewashing Avatar,an american anime show set in Asian world.

I liked reading this in the article.

" My color scheme was conscious and deliberate from the start. I didn't see why everybody in science fiction had to be a honky named Bob or Joe or Bill. I didn't see why everybody in heroic fantasy had to be white (and why all the leading women had "violet eyes"

"I think it is possible that some readers never even notice what color the people in the story are. Don't notice, don't care. Whites of course have the privilege of not caring, of being "colorblind. Nobody else does

Its an interesting to see an author care and think about not just writing about people just like her/him. I of course thought Earthsea was full of white people in the books too not only cause of seeing pictures from the mini but authors of her generation and era usually was like she said about white people in white worlds.


There Are Always new Things to Learn.
Jun 29, 2014
Were they perfect adaptations ? No, but I liked them.(y)

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