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Global Diversity SFF Thread


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#1 Sci-2

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Posted 26 April 2012 - 10:57 AM

Seems like cool stuff is happening in the world of diverse SFF, looking at the World SF blog, and I need a race related thread to go along with Gender and Genre and Depiction of LGBT to complete my triad of Ultra-Liberalism.

First off, The Future Is Japanese is a anthology based around Japan, with Japanese and Foreign Writers. If you read Unwritten, the cover is by the same artist - the incredibly talented/gifted Yuko Shimizu.

Second, anyone have more detail on Mongoliad? I'll admit that reviving the Yellow Menace trope seems a bit dodgy to me, but I can't say more having read only a fraction of an excerpt.

It's been mentioned by me a few times in the Valente thread, but if you are interested in Russian mythology and history check out Valente's Deathless.

“You can see there a firebird on the door, and Master Grey Wolf on the chimney, and Ivan the Fool scampering over the walls, with Yelena the Bright in his arms, and Baba Yaga running after them, brandishing her spoon. And that’s a leshy, creeping in the garden, and a vila and vodyanoy and a domovoi with a red cap. And there–they’ve put a rusalka near the kitchen window.” Kseniya turned to Marya. “And Koschei the Deathless is there, too, near the cellar. You can see him, painted on the foundation stones.”


Lingua Fatastika has more on this mix of myth and history here.

Someone else's review of Nalo Hopkinson's Midnight Robber. [edit: added link] I know Verboten liked it, kinda sad she hasn't been around as much.

Naturally, like every other book, I have yet to finish it but this sounds good (I quote the non-spoilerly parts):

Note: This review has a few spoilers.

Midnight Robber is one of the best science fiction novels I've read in years. Hopkinson seems to have approached this novel with many ambitions, and, marvellously, all of them are achieved. Midnight Robber is an intricately detailed hard science fiction novel, with plausible speculation set in a consistent and interesting far future society. Hopkinson gracefully evades the recurring flaw of hard science fiction, the lack of real characters, and the book is as much a vividly realized character piece as canny speculation about the future. Certainly this mix of the human and the technological does happen in some of the best science fiction, notably books like Zettel's Fool's War, but Hopkinson goes one further than even such rare achievements. Midnight Robber is written with the linguistic and mythological underpinnings of the Caribbean, which provides a welcome and exhilarating texture to the prose and, not coincidentally, dovetails neatly with the protagonist's story. All in all, quite the achievement, as I've said.

The story begins on the planet Toussaint, which is as near utopia as human nature would allow. The society is a vigorous hybrid of social customs passed along from the Caribbean and of nanotechnology, although the tech underlying the achievements of Toussaint is integrated to the point of complete submersion and it's quite some time before the nature of the technology in this future becomes clear. The main character, Tan-Tan, is a young girl at the beginning of Midnight Robber. Her mother, Ione, is having an affair with a man named Quashee, and the story begins with Tan-Tan's father, Mayor Antonio, on his way home to confront Ione about her lover...


I'll post more stuff later.

Edited by sciborg2, 26 April 2012 - 09:28 PM.


#2 Nukelavee

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Posted 26 April 2012 - 12:26 PM

Should check out Cherryh's Russian stuff...I really liked it.

I want a Yard Thing.

#3 Sci-2

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Posted 26 April 2012 - 09:42 PM

Tulpa, or Anne&Me [I have not finished this, but it is good.] eta: quote

ANNE
do you mind if i ask you a personal question? it's something i've been wondering for a while.

[NAME]
ok . . . ?

ANNE
why don't you think you're beautiful?

[NAME]
. . . i guess – i guess because nobody told me when i needed to hear it.



eta II : another quote

Spoiler


This play is about a tulpa, a thought-based life form of Tibetan faith, taking the shape of Anne Hathaway and entering the life of a black woman who is a lesbian.

There's two extra parts articles by the author at Ars Marginal, "Creating art and life from the intersections", which I quote below, and "Why Anne Hathaway?"

As Black women, we are constantly being asked to hide away or tear off chunks of who we are to make us safer for consumption. When we are with women, we’re supposed to magically forget we are Black. When we are Black, we’re supposed to ignore our womanhood. And we’d better keep that queer shit deep in the closet if we know what’s good for us. Yet in Tulpa, all three of these identities are necessary to fully understanding the characters and the story.

Tulpa, or Anne&Me is not Intro to Intersectionality. The dialogue is pretty exclusively about race. But it’s a queer woman’s experience of race and how it impacts her most personal moments. The play focuses on an intimate relationship. But it’s a relationship between women trying to maintain that intimacy in the face of racism and what that means for both of them.



Edited by sciborg2, 26 April 2012 - 11:28 PM.


#4 Seli

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Posted 27 April 2012 - 03:04 AM

Interesting things have always happened in worldwide SFF, and when not labelled as such it is the stuff that wins acclaim and prizes.

It seems to be the style that is closer to 'traditional genre' that is now getting more attention. I think that is partly due to access to local writers, and partly due to english-writing writers using the locale and culture (which is apparently fine as long as they pay proper attention and don't claim to be right when people who know what they are talking about point at their mistakes).

#5 Sci-2

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Posted 27 April 2012 - 11:11 AM

Interesting things have always happened in worldwide SFF, and when not labelled as such it is the stuff that wins acclaim and prizes


Curious, would appreciate if you could give examples.

=-=-=

Aliette de Bodard on Writing Non-Western Cultures

The main goal when starting a piece is to move my default thinking from 21st-century France to, say, 15th-century Mexico, for the duration of writing. I always want to get to the point where it is mostly unconscious: this ensures I don’t need to think about making my characters “feel” Aztec, but can instead focus on their motivations and behaviour as individuals, while being sure that I don’t have them say anything spectacularly wrong (such as, for instance, expressing atheist ideas in a culture where religion remained a bedrock).

The problem, I’ve noticed, is my default: when I’m not paying attention, it reverts to what I was raised with (and I think most people are the same. It takes an effort to see things from the perspective of someone else. I’m not saying it’s impossible, just that it’s seldom unconscious). This means that, in the midst of a scene, I can have characters spouting ideas about male and female equality (a superb notion, but a totally anachronistic one); or that my plot twists will suddenly rely on something typically modern such as belief in individual freedom (again, anachronistic for the time period).

So I’d rather have a thick layer of period thinking underneath when writing. This involves reading. A lot. I pick primary sources (literature from the time period); secondary sources (scholarly articles, books for the general public); and children’s books (which tend to be sparser on the grander details of history, but a lot more focused on the nitty-gritty details of everyday life, invaluable for a novelist). It’s not always obvious to find such sources: it is way easier to find books about Medieval England than about Ming dynasty China or the Aztecs. But they do exist, and there are also a precious few internet resources which can be looked up online (with the usual caveat on reliability).



#6 Seli

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Posted 27 April 2012 - 04:49 PM

Curious, would appreciate if you could give examples.
...


Say Borges, Marquez, Murakami, Okri, of course that is mostly labelled as magic realism but in my opinion it does fit into the speculative fiction category. And they do tend to be in close contact with local sensibilities of the magical and the other.

Other interesting fields of speculative fiction, at least in europe, is in the comic/graphic novel tradition. Which is largely separate from literature, but still can be an unique expression of SFF.

#7 TerraPrime

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Posted 27 April 2012 - 05:35 PM

I'm always in lament that a rich history and selection of speculative fiction from Asia (Chinese), the wuxia genre, does not seem to have strong advocates in foreign markets. There are also some good SF stuff that are not being translated. I'm sure other languages have the same English-is-King problem, but I'm way more intimately familiar with wuxia and Chinese SF.

#8 Galactus

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Posted 27 April 2012 - 05:41 PM

Yeah, it's weird. China in general seems to get very little attention culturally, a couple of movies, and there was a while where a company was trying to sell rather badly translated comics, but in general there's very little presence of chinese media. Relatively speaking even to SE-asia.

I could probably count the number of chinese novels at the library on my hands (The Spirit Mountain, and a couple of chinese detective novels, although I'm not sure if the author actually lives in China) as well as maybe a couple picture books.

Other interesting fields of speculative fiction, at least in europe, is in the comic/graphic novel tradition. Which is largely separate from literature, but still can be an unique expression of SFF.


Valerian!

#9 Seli

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Posted 28 April 2012 - 05:13 AM

I don't think I have read any recent chinese writers.

...
Valerian!


Yes. Or Thorghal, Storm, Aria, and that is just a small section of works easily recognizable as SF.

#10 Sci-2

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Posted 28 April 2012 - 09:34 AM

ETA: READ TULPA (Tulpa, or Anne&Me)

=-=-=
Is science fiction literature's first international language?

It's as a response to that cultural void that science fiction becomes genuinely interesting. In the midst of an ever accelerating technological revolution, science fiction has emerged as the literature best able to articulate the relentless pace of social change. And as that technological revolution has spread outward from the western world, so the symbols and archetypes of science fiction have become a shared language for understanding the new world we are entering.


With Larry's rebuttal here.

Walter claims that in the face of this development that science fiction, out of all the other literary modes by which people express their concerns, is the most apt to handle these rapidly-changing developments. To that, I say no. This is not to deny the validity of science fiction's role in voicing certain concerns, but when judged outside the Anglo-American direct sphere of influence, it quickly becomes apparent that science fiction is not the mode of choice.


Edited by sciborg2, 28 April 2012 - 09:53 AM.


#11 Galactus

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Posted 28 April 2012 - 11:19 AM

I don't think I have read any recent chinese writers.



Yes. Or Thorghal, Storm, Aria, and that is just a small section of works easily recognizable as SF.


Ah, Thorgal. I read one of the earlier ones ("The Archers" I think the translation would be?) and it was all regular vaguely-historical adventure.

Then I saw a later book and Thorgal was wrestling with an aztec god with rayguns or something. Weird transition that.

#12 Seli

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Posted 28 April 2012 - 11:29 AM

Ah, Thorgal. I read one of the earlier ones ("The Archers" I think the translation would be?) and it was all regular vaguely-historical adventure.

Then I saw a later book and Thorgal was wrestling with an aztec god with rayguns or something. Weird transition that.


They do shift all the way from near-historical (the archer one is one of those, although I loved all the weird arrows when first read it) to viking mythology to weirder stuff. The travel to meso-america and the encounters there actually makes some sense in view of the backstory.

#13 Sci-2

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Posted 28 April 2012 - 03:55 PM

Peerbacker Project: We See a Different Future


For this anthology we will be looking for stories from the perspective of people and places that are colonized under regimes not of their choosing (in the past, present or even future). We are not primarily interested in war stories, although don’t completely rule them out. We are not interested in stories about a White Man learning the error of his ways; nor parables about alien contact in which the Humans are white anglos, and the Aliens are an analogue for other races. We want stories told from the viewpoint of colonized peoples, with characters who do not necessarily speak English, from authors who have experience of the world outside the First World.

We want to raise at least $3000 dollars so that we can make this a professional rate-paying anthology for authors and artists from outside of the mainstream. All editorial and technical work will be carried out for no pay, but we feel strongly we should pay authors fairly for their work. This money will cover the cost of paying around $250 for each of 7-8 stories, plus a cover artist, publicity and advertising, review copies, rewards for donors, etc. All profit from sales of the anthology will be paid to the contributors as royalties. If we raise more than this, we can buy even more stories and/or pay even more professional rates to the authors. If we don’t quite make it, we’ll still publish this great anthology, but it may not be as large, as great, or as professional.



#14 Sci-2

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Posted 28 April 2012 - 04:51 PM

World SFF Shorts

Will post thoughts on stories that I read, urge people to do the same.

#15 Sci-2

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Posted 30 April 2012 - 10:24 AM

Jemisin tweeted about this, haven't read it yet personally:

The Ongoing Problem of Race in Y.A.

Editors, writers, librarians, and publishers tend to agree that we've improved in terms of racial diversity, with not only black but also Native American, Asian, South Asian, Hispanic, and other ethnically diverse characters reflected in books for kids and teens. But those in the business and outside of it also tend to agree that we're not quite there yet.

What are the options in terms of racially diverse content for kids and teens?



#16 dornish prince

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Posted 30 April 2012 - 10:46 AM

World SFF Shorts

Will post thoughts on stories that I read, urge people to do the same.


very interesting. i'd already planned to introduce more short stories to my reading after a short story thread, started by jax, i believe, was bumped recently. i've already pegged some ballard and valente to be read; i'll give some of these a try as well.

#17 Sci-2

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Posted 30 April 2012 - 11:02 AM

very interesting. i'd already planned to introduce more short stories to my reading after a short story thread, started by jax, i believe, was bumped recently. i've already pegged some ballard and valente to be read; i'll give some of these a try as well.


Definitely post your thoughts on stories you read. I'm a big shorts reader, way more than novels and like to discuss stories.

#18 kcf

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Posted 30 April 2012 - 11:14 AM

Second, anyone have more detail on Mongoliad? I'll admit that reviving the Yellow Menace trope seems a bit dodgy to me, but I can't say more having read only a fraction of an excerpt.


Not yet, though I've been told that I have review copy en-route. Depending on the moment, it may immediately vault to the top of The Stack - I'm very curious about this book and part of the curiosity is due to my skepticism about it being very good.

#19 Sci-2

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Posted 30 April 2012 - 01:07 PM

A Conversation With Novelist Saladin Ahmed About Muslim Fantasy, Transcending Tropes and Writing Women

Not to say that there’s not all sorts of oppression that’s specific to Muslim women, but there are fears and hatreds that are very specific to Muslim men in our culture. And on the other side, there are these stories about genre heroes, and what men should be. And a lot of my fiction straddles that line. I’ve got a story where there’s a Muslim gunslinger. This book is about a badass Paladin with a sword, to use my Dungeons and Dragons history here. Part of the sadly radical gesture, that phrase about feminism being the radical notion that women are people, a lot of my work is about the fact that Muslims and Arabs and people who look Arabic are heroes.



#20 Sci-2

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Posted 30 April 2012 - 06:50 PM

Eliyahu ha-Navi by Max Sparber

"He was small enough that my great-grandparents could fit him into an accordion case, and this is what they did, so that his moans and wheezing might be mistaken for the sound of wind running through an instrument's reeds. They carried him aboard the Lusitania, and my great-grandfather never let go of the accordion case, holding it to his side and whispering to it as they sat in steerage. When they eventually saw the Statue of Liberty, my great-grandfather kissed the accordion case and whispered to it, "Nyu York, Eliyahu, Nyu York!" The accordion case coughed and rattled back, unconcerned.

This is how the Jews brought the prophet Elijah to the New World."

A poignant SFF story featuring a family's relationship to the prophet Elijah. Touches on the immigrant experience and the expectation older generations have that their descendants will keep alive the religious traditions of the homeland, and how this can create feelings of resentment and guilt in the younger generation born in the country emigrated to.