Actual Living Legend and Grand Master, multiple Hugo and Nebula, and World Fantasy award winning science fiction and fantasy author, Ursula K. Le Guin (The Dispossessed, The Left Hand of Darkness, Earthsee series, Hainish series) would like to provide a little assistance to the current administration, and most especially to Trump advisor and apparent mouthpiece, Kellyanne Conway — who seems to be having just a bit of trouble distinguishing fiction from fact. The author was responding to a letter appearing in The Oregonian, which inexplicably attempted to defend Conway’s recent use of the term “alternative facts”. Le Guin’s clarification could prove especially useful today, after the advisor appeared on Harball with Chris Matthews and defended the administration’s immigration ban, citing a completely fictional terrorist attack she called the “Bowling Green Massacre” (which oddly, Matthews skipped right past):
In fact, there was no Bowling Green Massacre, ever. And, for those confused by or tempted to believe in alternative facts, please let Ursula Le Guin clarify the difference between fact, fiction and utter bullshit:
A recent letter in The Oregonian compares a politician’s claim to tell ‘alternative facts’ to the inventions of science fiction. The comparison won’t work. We fiction writers make up stuff. Some of it clearly impossible, some of it realistic, but none of it real – all invented, imagined — and we call it fiction because it isn’t fact. We may call some of it ‘alternative history”’ or ‘an alternate universe,’ but make absolutely no pretense that our fictions are ‘alternative facts.’
Facts aren’t all that easy to come by. Honest scientists and journalists, among others, spend a lot of time trying to make sure of them. The test of a fact is that it simply is so – it has no ‘alternative.’ The sun rises in the east. To pretend the sun can rise in the west is a fiction, to claim that it does so as fact (or ‘alternative fact’) is a lie.
A lie is a non-fact deliberately told as fact. Lies are told in order to reassure oneself, or to fool, or scare, or manipulate others. Santa Claus is a fiction. He’s harmless. Lies are seldom completely harmless, and often very dangerous. In most times, most places, by most people, liars are considered contemptible.”
Now that Ms. Conway has this handy guide to truth vs. lie available to her, I suggest she print out Le Guin’s letter, laminate it, carry it around in her pocket and refer to it whenever she’s feeling confused.