Ursula K Le Guin, whose books fused science fiction, fantasy with a feminist sensibility, has died at her home in Oregon aged 88. She was a best-selling author renowned for works such as her Earthsea series aimed at young adults.

She also achieved considerable critical success with her novel the Left Hand of Darkness published in 1969, which is set on a planet where everyone is ambisexual.

Her books could delve into sorcery, dragons and spaceships and were translated into more than 40 languages, as well as selling millions worldwide.

The New York Times noted the comment once made by the critic Harold Bloom, who described her as someone who "raised fantasy into high literature for our time".

Her more than 20 novels and more than 100 works of short fiction won numerous Locus, Hugo, and Nebula awards. Authors who say she influenced them include Margaret Atwood, Salman Rushdie and George R. R. Martin.

She was also a social commentator with issues such as social inequality and the foibles of capitalism particularly close to her heart. During a speech at the National Book Awards in 2014, she said: "We live in capitalism, its power seems inescapable – but then, so did the divine right of kings.

"Any human power can be resisted and changed by human beings. Resistance and change often begin in art. Very often in our art, the art of words," she said.

Le Guin lamented the fact that she had to fight for recognition in the science fiction genre because of her gender, telling the LA Review of Books: "For a woman, any literary award, honours, notice of any sort has been an uphill climb".

Writers and thinkers paid tribute on social media to the writer.

The author Neil Gaiman wrote on Twitter: "Her words are always with us. Some of them are written on my soul." Meanwhile, Laurie Penny wrote: "I'm fumbling for the words to properly express how much Ursula Le Guin's work has meant to me, and that's no way to commemorate a writer, so I'll say no more until I can say it better".