She's always had that fierce, uncompromising vision. I remember reading The Left Hand of Darkness for the first time and seeing that sci-fi could be utterly different from what I knew. And her integrity has never faltered.
I have never heard her speak and not been inspired. Like you @MaryA, I had an enlightening experience with her books. As a young teenager I came across her short story The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas, and after knitting my brows and staring at the middle distance for the best part of an academic year, I thought Ah! So that's what politics is all about!