Social media are full of bots and mass marketers hawking influencer opportunities. Usually, they don't target famous dead authors.
A clothing company reached out to Ursula K. Le Guin—the beloved speculative fiction writer who died two years ago at age 88—asking the late Portland author to become a "brand ambassador" and model a pair of leggings on her Instagram.
Le Guin's estate posted the email on social media with the company's name redacted:
Even if she were alive today, it seems unlikely the author who dreamed up the oppressive capitalist society in The Dispossessed would be interested in becoming an influencer who sells leggings.
Naturally, Le Guin's fans promptly panned the company:
Twitter user @japecake identified the brand as Bliss Leggings, which has a history of sending similar emails. Over 200 consumer reviews claim its offers are a scam.
Le Guin's heirs seem content to delight in the absurdity of the situation. The author's estate posted an update on the leggings offer yesterday, writing that the marketer reached out a second time: "She addressed us as 'Dear'; her tone was plaintive for a bot or mass marketer. Is she actually a she or is she an it or they? I could probably look on LinkedIn, but I prefer to be left guessing."
Regardless of who sent the email, Le Guin's heirs will not be using the novelist's platform to sell clothes anytime soon.
"In any case," wrote Le Guin's estate, "I explained that neither Ursula nor her heirs and assigns would be able to wear her leggings or to Influence on her behalf."