10 Best Authors Like Ursula Le Guin to Get You Thinking

Discover our guide to the best authors like Ursula Le Guin – whether you love science fiction or feminist works that tackle social concerns, we got you covered!

Born in 1929, Ursula Le Guin was a distinguished writer who grew up in California. Born to a writer mother and an anthropologist father, learning was in her blood. She attended Radcliffe College for her undergraduate degree and Columbia University for her graduate work.

Le Guin and her husband raised their family in Oregon, and she died in 2018 after dedicating her life to her writing work. Throughout her life, she won the National Book Award, seven Hugo awards, the Howard Vursell Award of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and six Nebula awards. Though she didn’t win, she was also a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.

One of the things that set Le Guin apart is her ability to write in a wide range of genres and forms. She has 23 novels, 12 short story volumes, 13 children’s books, 11 volumes of poetry, and five essay collections, with works in 42 different languages. One of her most famous works, A Wizard of Earthsea, has sold millions of copies. The Left Hand of Darkness, her first science fiction work, took on the topic of gender roles and their morality, which established her as a writer in the feminist genre.

If you’re a fan of the science fiction, fantasy, and feminist works of Le Guin or her writing style in general, check out this list of similar authors. Interested in this topic? Check out the best Edgar Rice Burroughs books!

Best Authors Like Ursula Le Guin Ranked

1. Margaret Atwood, 1939 –

Margaret Atwood
Photo of Margaret Atwood smiling

Margaret Atwood writes speculative and dystopian fiction novels that showcase the challenges of gender and politics in modern society. Her book The Handmaid’s Tale, published in 1985, became the source material for a Hulu television series in which the author herself has a cameo appearance. As a child, she did not attend official school until she was 12, but she was a voracious reader. Atwood attended Victoria College in Toronto and Harvard University, and in 1961 she published Double Persephone, a book of poetry that earned an E.J. Pratt Medal.

Her novels earned her literary fame, starting with Bodily Harm in 1981. The Handmaid’s Tale won several awards, including an Arthur C. Clarke award, a 1985 Governor General’s Award, and a 1986 Booker Prize. The Testaments is one of her most recent works, published in 2019, and it also won the Booker Prize. Are you looking for more fiction books to add to your reading list? You might want to check out our round-up of the best James Michener books!

“Better never means better for everyone… It always means worse, for some.”

Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale
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The Handmaid's Tale
  • Great product!
  • Atwood, Margaret (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 311 Pages - 03/16/1998 (Publication Date) - Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group (Publisher)

2. Octavia E. Butler, 1947 – 2006

Octavia E. Butler
Photo of Octavia E. Butler at a book signing

Octavia E. Butler wrote science fiction books that won several Nebula and Hugo awards. Born in Pasadena, she attended California State University but decided to take writing courses through UCLA instead. Initial writings created for school grabbed the attention of known science-fiction writers, who encouraged her to keep writing. Eventually, Butler sold short stories to Harlan Ellison for his anthology before settling down to write her own novels, starting with the Patternmaster series’ first book Wild Seed in 1976, followed by five additional books in the series.

The Xenogenesis series came next, starting with Dawn in 1984. Butler has two standalone novels and multiple short stories and essays. As a minority herself, Butler weaves themes of race and gender into her books.

“In my years, I have seen that people must be their own gods and make their own good fortune. The bad will come or not come anyway.”

Octavia E. Butler, Wild Seed
Wild Seed (Patternist, 1)
  • Butler, Octavia E. (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 320 Pages - 04/01/2001 (Publication Date) - Grand Central Publishing (Publisher)

3. Samuel R. Delany, 1942 –

Samuel R. Delany
Photo of Samuel R. Delany

American writer and literary critic Samuel R. Delany writes science fiction novels that explore themes of society and sexuality. Educated at City College of New York, the author published his first science fiction novel at 20. The work’s success allowed him to drop out of college. Between 1962 and 1976, Delany published at least one book a year, and his 1966 novel Babel-17 was his first award winner, earning the Nebula Award and being nominated for a Hugo Award. In 2002, he was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame, and in 2013 he was named the Damon Knight Memorial Foundation Grand Master by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.

“When you learn another tongue, you learn the way another people see the world, the universe.”

Samuel R. Delany, Babel-17
Babel-17 (The Gregg Press Science Fiction Series)
  • Hardcover Book
  • Samuel R. Delany (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 158 Pages - 06/01/1976 (Publication Date) - Gregg Pr (Publisher)

4. Anne McCaffrey, 1926 – 2011

Anne McCaffrey
Photo of Anne McCaffrey

Anne McCaffrey is the first woman to earn a Hugo Award, which she won for her 1968 novel Weyr Search, and a Nebula Award, which she won for her 1969 novel Dragonrider. In 1978, her novel The White Dragon was one of the first science fiction works to hit the New York Times bestseller list. McCaffrey was born in Massachusetts and had dual citizenship in the United States and Ireland. In the 1950s, she launched her writing career with two short story publications, which caught the literary world’s attention.

She is a prolific writer and has multiple books, including the Dragonriders of Pern series, the Tower and the Hive Sequence, and the Talent Series. Her body of work won her the Margaret A. Edwards’ Lifetime Achievement Literary Award.

“Exchange information, learn to speak sensibly about any subject, learn to express your thoughts, accept new ones, examine them, analyze. Think objectively. Think toward the future.”

Anne McCaffrey, The White Dragon
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The White Dragon (Dragonriders of Pern Vol 3)
  • Anne McCaffrey (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 468 Pages - 11/12/1986 (Publication Date) - Del Rey (Publisher)

5. Ernest Hemingway, 1899 – 1961

Ernest Hemingway
Black and white photo of Ernest Hemingway

American author Ernest Hemingway wrote novels and short stories with a style known for its easy-to-understand nature. His work strongly influenced 20th-century fiction writing; in 1954, he earned the Nobel Prize in Literature. In 1923 he published his first book, Three Stories and Ten Poems, and launched his literary career. The Old Man and the Sea was one of his most famous works, but he also wrote Death in the Afternoon in 1932, and A Farewell to Arms in 1929. Though his works were not science fiction, they did take on social and political topics and thus are popular with fans of Ursula Le Guin.

“Every day is a new day. It is better to be lucky. But I would rather be exact. Then when luck comes you are ready.”

Earnest Hemingway, The Old Man and the Sea
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The Old Man And The Sea (Scribner Classics) (Hemingway Library Edition)
  • Hardcover Book
  • Hemingway, Ernest (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 96 Pages - 06/10/1996 (Publication Date) - Scribner (Publisher)

6. Kate Chopin, 1850 – 1904

Kate Chopin
Black and white photo of Kate Chopin

Kate Chopin wrote about the inner lives of women, shedding light on what life was like for females in the late 1800s and early 1900s. The Awakening is her primary novel, which she published in 1899. The work was actually not well received by critics of her day because of its risque topic, but in the 1950s, it was newly discovered. In the book, she writes of the intimate desires of her protagonist, which her readers were rather shocked by because of the patriarchal nature of the society of the time.

Today, however, it remains one of the top favorite novels of literature studies. The work earned her accolades as an early feminist writer, which is part of why she is considered among authors like Le Guin.

“I would give up the unessential; I would give up my money, I would give up my life for my children; but I wouldn’t give myself. I can’t make it more clear; it’s only something I am beginning to comprehend, which is revealing itself to me.”

Kate Chopin, The Awakening
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The Awakening
  • Chopin, Kate (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 196 Pages - 09/13/2000 (Publication Date) - Adamant Media Corporation (Publisher)

7. Tamora Pierce, 1954 –

Tamora Pierce
Photo of Tamora Pierce

Tamora Pierce lands on this list because of her focus on science fiction and fantasy books. However, her works are less political since they are written for young adult audiences. Born in Pennsylvania, Tamara started reading early and began writing in the sixth grade, inspired by the work of Tolkien. While studying at the University of Pennsylvania, she wrote The Song of the Lioness quartet.

The first book in the quartet, Alanna: The First Adventure, was published in 1983. She is also the author of the Protector of the SmallThe Tricksters, Beka Cooper, and The Immortals series.

“Alan, you seem to think we won’t like you unless you do things just like everyone else. Have you ever thought we might like you because you’re different?”

Tamora Pierce, Alanna: The First Adventure
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Alanna: The First Adventure (Song of the Lioness, Book 1)
  • Pierce, Tamora (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 240 Pages - 01/01/2005 (Publication Date) - Simon Pulse (Publisher)

8. Mercedes Lackey, 1950 –

Mercedes Lackey
Photo of Mercedes Lackey

Author Mercedes Lackey writes novels set in the fantasy world of Velgarth. Her books allow human and non-human main characters to interact and explore the challenges of differing cultures and social norms. A prolific writer, she publishes about five books a year and has over 140 books to her name. Lackey became fascinated with science fiction in middle school when she read a James H. Schmitz book.

When she found her public library didn’t have enough books for her needs, she started writing for herself. After discovering fan fiction, her writing grew even more, and in 1987 she published her first novel, Arrows of the Queen. In 2022, she won the Dragon Award for the Best Alternative History Novel for The Silver Bullets of Annie Oakley.

“My kith and kin have long since vanished into time.”

Mercedes Lackey, Arrows of the Queen
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Arrows of the Queen ( The Heralds of Valdemar, Book 1)
  • Lackey, Mercedes (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 320 Pages - 03/03/1987 (Publication Date) - DAW (Publisher)

9. C.J. Cherryh, 1940 –

C.J. Cherryh
Photo of C.J. Cherryh smiling

C.J. Cherryh is the pen name of Carolyn Janice Cherry, and she is a writer of speculative fiction works. With over 80 books to her name, she has won several awards, including Hugo Awards for Downbelow Station, her 1981 novel, and Cyteen, her 1988 novel. When she started writing novels, her editor told her to add a silent “h” to her name because “Cherry” sounded too much like a romance author. Cherryh was born in Missouri but grew up in Oklahoma.

When she was 10, she got frustrated with the cancellation of Flash Gordon, her favorite television show, and started writing episodes. This sparked a love for writing, but she studied Latin when she attended the University of Oklahoma. With her degree, she taught Latin and literature in the public school system and started writing novels in her spare time.

In 1976, she published Gate of Ivrel and Brothers of Earth, her first two novels, and her writing career began in earnest. To create the fictional worlds in her books, she creates her own histories, archaeology, and languages. One of her more recent works, her 2020 novel Alliance Rising, won a Prometheus Award for Best Novel. Looking for more sci-fi novels to read? Check out our round-up of the best authors like Iain M. Banks!

“A bizarre hysteria, perhaps, that point which many reached here, when anger was all that mattered. It led to self-destruction.”

C.J. Cherryh, Downbelow Station
Downbelow Station (20th Anniversary) (Alliance-Union Universe)
  • Cherryh, C. J. (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 528 Pages - 12/01/2001 (Publication Date) - DAW (Publisher)

10. Robin Hobb, 1952 –

Robin Hobb
Photo of Robin Hobb ( AKA Margaret Astrid Lindholm Ogden)

Robin Hobb is one of the pen names for Margaret Astrid Lindholm Ogden. Under this pen name, which she adopted in 1995, she writes epic traditional fantasy books. The Realm of the Elderlings series is her primary focus in this genre. It has earned her several awards, including the David Gemmell Award for the 2018 novel Assassin’s Fate, the Endeavour Award for the 2007 novel Forest Mage, and the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement, which she earned in 2017. Hobb enjoys gardening and working on her small hobby farm in Washington State when she is not writing.

“Never do what you can’t undo until you’ve considered well what you can’t do once you’ve done it.”

Robin Hobb, Assassin’s Fate
Assassin's Fate: Book III of the Fitz and the Fool trilogy
  • Hardcover Book
  • Hobb, Robin (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 864 Pages - 05/09/2017 (Publication Date) - Del Rey (Publisher)

Looking for more? Check out our round-up of the best science fiction authors!

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  • Nicole Harms has been writing professionally since 2006. She specializes in education content and real estate writing but enjoys a wide gamut of topics. Her goal is to connect with the reader in an engaging, but informative way. Her work has been featured on USA Today, and she ghostwrites for many high-profile companies. As a former teacher, she is passionate about both research and grammar, giving her clients the quality they demand in today's online marketing world.