|Name:||The Earthsea Cycle|
|Abbreviation(s):||Esea, WoE, ToA, FS, TOW, TfE|
|Creator:||Ursula Le Guin|
|Country of Origin:||United States|
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Earthsea is a fantasy universe created by sf&f author Ursula Le Guin. Le Guin's works set in the Earthsea universe are A Wizard of Earthsea (1968), The Tombs of Atuan (1972), The Farthest Shore (1973), Tehanu (1990), The Other Wind (2001), and several shorter works collected in The Wind's Twelve Quarters (1975) & Tales from Earthsea (2001).
A wizardly boarding school -- two young rivals, one from a privileged background, the other poor -- an Everyman sidekick -- shapeshifting -- dragons -- an evil wizard who aims to conquer death ... Sounds familiar? Think again, because I'm talking about Ursula Le Guin's Earthsea series, which first appeared in 1964.
Five reasons to read Earthsea
(2) A coherent system of magic based on the power of language & limited by the necessity for balance
(3) Among the earliest sf&f to use coloured heroes & white Other
(4) Ancient wise dragons
(5) Middle-aged sex!In a nutshell, Earthsea resembles HP without the CAPSLOCK, C.S. Lewis without the Christian allegory & Tolkien with a dash of sex... (Espresso Addict in Crack Van)
Earthsea has a small rarelit fandom. The main activities are fanfiction and discussion. The earliest online fanfiction dates from around 2001, with prominent early authors including Victoria P and Daegaer. Victoria P's frequently recommended The Naming of Names, a crossover with Buffy the Vampire Slayer, brought the fandom to a wider audience, while Daegaer's The Dark of the Moon and The Eaten One opened up the possibilities for femslash within The Tombs of Atuan. As with many rarelit fandoms, Earthsea has benefited from the Yuletide exchange since 2004 with a handful of stories appearing most years. Neither of the adaptations were popular, at least in English-speaking fandom, but the Ghibli anime film resulted in a small transient increase in fannish activity.
As of August 2012, there were nearly 120 fan-written stories and poems online from over seventy authors. Most works are very short, with approaching half the total under a thousand words. Prolific authors include Antosha, Firerose, Miss Morland, Victoria P and Wild Iris. Many well-known authors from larger fandoms have written in the universe, including Altariel, Amy Fortuna, Avanti_90, Daegaer, Ellen Fremedon, Elynross, Gloria Mundi, Jay Tryfanstone, Lferion, Luzula, Minerva McTabby and Victoria P. The majority of fanfiction is suitable for a general audience, with very little sexually explicit material. Ged and Tenar are by far the most popular characters, followed by Tehanu, Lebannen, Vetch and Ogion. The most popular pairing by far is the canonical Ged/Tenar, but various other m/m, m/f and f/f pairings have also been written, including Ged/Lebannen, Ged/Vetch, Ged/Jasper, Ged/Ogion, Tenar/Flint, Lebannen/Seserakh, Lebannen/Tehanu, Alder/Lily, Tenar/Penthe and Arha-that-was/Thar. Most fanfiction is based on the original quartet, particularly A Wizard of Earthsea, The Tombs of Atuan and Tehanu, although works based in The Other Wind and to a lesser extent Tales from Earthsea have gradually been appearing. Little online fanfiction based on the adaptations exists, in English at least.
There is no fandom-specific archive; most fiction is archived at Archive of Our Own, Fanfiction.net and Skyehawke, and was formerly housed at the Yuletide archive. The livejournal community earthsea_fic was created in 2004 and is moderated by Espresso Addict; it accepts fanfiction and poetry of all genres, and ran occasional challenges. Posts have been relatively sparse since 2012. The Earthsea Ficathon, the only fandom-specific ficathon, ran in 2004–5 and 2009. The Earthsea Fanfiction Masterlist was compiled in 2009 by Espresso Addict, and covers up to August 2012. Reccers include Beth H, Espresso Addict, The RCK and Victoria P. Chantress, Luzula and Firerose have recorded Earthsea podfic.
- The Eaten One (link) by Daegaer (2003). Tenar/Penthe. An early example of femslash
- Sparkweed (link) by Minerva McTabby (2004). Ged/Jasper. One of the earliest Yuletide stories. Espresso Addict writes: Minerva's characterisations in this encounter are absolutely spot on, and the wonderful tense dialogue twists & turns rapidly enough that the reader is kept almost as unsettled as Ged. Despite the slash, the story has a very canonical feel.
- The Inner Dark by Altariel (2005). Thar character study. Espresso Addict writes: ...Tombs of Atuan doesn't give much of a hint as to [Thar's] motivations, opening a space for Altariel's intriguing interpretation to slip into canon. 'The Inner Dark' is a quiet, beautifully written character study that examines choices for women in a male-dominated society and the nature of religious faith.
- Lighting the Lamps by Solvent90 (2006). Ged/Tenar. Victoria P writes: This story nails Tenar - her steady pride, her fierce joy - and Ged is so very Ged here, and the ending made me sniffly. Short and sharp and beautiful.
- The Veins of the Forest by Ellen Fremedon (2006). Azver backstory. Victoria P writes: This reads like it totally could have come right out of canon. The details are beautiful and well-chosen, the prose is light and lyrical, and the whole story is evocative of love, loss and potential.
- Thistledown by Edo no Hana (2009). Ged, Vetch, OC gen. Beth H writes: Smart and with a believable original young female character.
- The Dragon Year by Firerose (2009). Tenar/Flint. Miss Morland writes: ...this is a beautiful portrayal of Tenar's relationship with her first husband, Flint: a farmer and an ordinary man, who doesn't understand his foreign wife, but who still loves her. It's the meeting of Atuan and Gont, of strange forces and everyday life, and it's masterfully told.
- Mother Tongue by elle_dritch (2012). Popular female-centric gen set after Tehanu. Espresso Addict writes: This quiet coda to Tehanu reads like a missing chapter from the novel, and brings its narrator, Apple, to life as she tries to understand her family's choices
Archives & Masterlists
- AO3 -- 70 stories
- Audiofic Archive -- ~9 podfics
- Earthsea Fanfiction Masterlist -- links to 117 works (updated to August 2012)
- Earthsea Fiction LJ -- ~40 stories
- Le Guin gallery at DeviantArt -- fanart
- Skyehawke -- 20 stories
Recs Sites & Journals
- Bethbethbeth's fic-and-recs journal -- 6 recs by Beth H
- Consensus Realities -- 3 recs by The RCK
- Crack Van -- 12 recs by Espresso Addict
- Espresso Recommendations -- 23 recs by Espresso Addict
- Unfit for Society -- 14 recs by Victoria P
Fansites & Fanlistings
- Crack Van overview by Espresso Addict (2009)
- The Isolate Tower (link) -- information site by Espresso Addict, including glossary, dictionary, timeline, resources & links (founded November 2004)
- Song of Life -- fanlisting by elerah (founded ~2007)
- To Light a Candle -- information site by Rizwan Virk; includes fanart by Ellen McDonough, Laurie Prindle & others (founded December 2004; offline)
- Crack Van: Earthsea: an overview (accessed 25 April 2012)
- Earthsea Fanfiction Masterlist (accessed 11 August 2012)
- Crack Van: Sparkweed by Minerva McTabby (PG-13) (accessed 25 April 2012)
- Crack Van: The Inner Dark by Altariel (PG) (accessed 25 April 2012)
- Unfit for Society: love's strange so real in the dark (accessed 25 April 2012)
- Recs Recs Recs: Earthsea (accessed 25 April 2012)
- The Fangirl Tour: Fangirly Friday (accessed 25 April 2012)
- Espresso Recommendations: Ursula Le Guin – Earthsea (accessed 22 June 2016)