Lemme see. Okay, very few modern books period (nevermind SF novels, nevermind feminist SF novels) have entered the canon to the extent that The Left Hand of Darkness has, so frankly I think that's a straw man. If you set up a definition of success that more or less only includes TLHoD, it seems to me a little disingenuous to then disallow Joanna Russ for being less accessible than Le Guin. I think there's an unexamined catch-22 in that argument: Russ doesn't count because she's not popular; she's not popular because she's offputting; she's offputting because she's radical.
As for your questioning of gender roles? Off the top of my head, and without really trying.... Walk to the End of the World, Stars in my Pockets like Grains of Sand, Native Tongue, Shadow Man, The Female Man, We Who Are About To..., "The Screwfly Solution," City of Bones, Set This House In Order, Titan et al, that Elizabeth Lynn book I am too lazy to look up the title of, the Chanur series (the whole thing, if you read, is genderfuck setting the Natural Order of a lion pride against the Natural Order of a gang of primates--and then Cherryh has the balls to call the lions sexist assholes, too. I do so love her when she's on.), Octavia Butler's Xenogenesis. Mary Gentle's Golden Witchbreed (which I feel the need to say I love), probably doesn't count for the same reason that Kameron disallows the Nicola Griffith books--it's The Left Hand of Darkness proslash, with a heck of a lot of plotty goodness.
...of the lot of these, several have a large popular readership, several are far more "radical" by modern standards than TLHoD, and several have certainly had the critical impact. (Joanna Russ, come on down.)
or is LeGuin just so incredibly talented that you only get that mix of great writer/great thinker/great feminist once every fifty years?
...well, when you put it that way, yes. Also gracious, funny, passionate, and darned good looking. But I may be a drooling pathetic fangirl.
And she's not the only person writing feminist SF. She's just the one who happened to hit that particular home run.
Give it another thirty years; somebody is probably writing the radical bastard stepdaughter of The Left Hand of Darkness as we blog. A few of us are certainly giving it the old college try, anyway. And if we're failing, it's because we are not the great writer/great thinker/great feminist for this fifty years.
Which kinda sucks to wake up to, but it takes a lot of Salieris to make one Mozart look good. ;-) So note: none of that is any excuse not get out there and genderfuck.
ETA: I should point out here that I take no exception to the vast majority of the philosophy, content, and call-to-arms of Kameron's post. Just the logical fallacy that it's hung on.
IE, it's hard to write a groundbreaking book of genderfuck-SF now, because, well, the ground is broken. The idea of ungendered or multiply gendered or shifting-gender people alone is not shocking any more. We're already talking about it.
Progress notes for 16 June 2006:
New Words: 1123
Total Words: 3041
Deadline: none to speak of.
Reason for stopping: blogging about feminism.
Stimulants: Smartfood and sushi.
Exercise: core, exercise bike. I was going to hit the ski machine, but my gimpy hip decided that it wasn't merely twinging today, but sending SPIKES OF SENTIENT FLAME through my hip, quadriceps, and obliques. So, um, no, not so much.
Twenty minutes on the recumbent knocked it back into alignment, though. And I skipped the lower body weights. Because I may be stubborn, but I'm not THAT dumb.
Mean Things: sidewalk pizza
Darling du jour: They were disrupting traffic flow, the cardinal sin of New York's secular religion.
Tyop du jour: Melissa was too busy dodging pedestrians to give Gina the were you born that stupid or do you practice hard? look, and Katie was infinitely graceful. (typo on a second order cliché. Lookit that.)
Books in progress: Martin Cruz Smith, Stallion Gate;
Things I am glad I did not go to my grave without seeing: The revolution will be televised.
That's some nice audio editing.
stillsostrange found a Whelan painting that could be cover art for The Sea thy Mistress. Except it's the skeleton of a dead sea animal she ties him to, not a dead tree.
The glamour!: grocery shopped, so I have something to feed commodorified tomorrow. The apartment is filthy, however.