Just as readers are sometimes influenced by the fiction they read, so, too, are writers. This week, we asked a bunch of writerly types:
Q: The ever-changing landscape of science fiction literature is said to be formed by the ongoing conversation between books; one book influences another, which influences another, and so on. Which books and writers have influenced your stories? What statements or challenges are asserted in your own work that you pass on to future writers?
Here’s what they said:
Tobias S. Buckell
Tobias S. Buckell
is a Caribbean-born speculative fiction writer who grew up in Grenada, the British Virgin Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. He has published stories in various magazines and anthologies. His novels include Crystal Rain
, Sly Mongoose
, and Halo: The Cole Protocol
. Coming up isa short story collection titled Tides from the New Worlds
I was quite influenced by the Cyberpunk writers. The view of the street, more blue collar heroes, that got my interest. It’s funny because even though they influenced me, I’m only just now getting around to writing a near-futur-ish novel of that sort. Bruce Sterling, William Gibson, they both used developing world countries as settings and characters and important players in the world in their books. That was revolutionary for me.
Bruce Sterling’s Islands in The Net is initially set on Grenada. For me it was a light bulb moment. I’d tasted a bit of this with Arthur C. Clarke’s novels, where he has Pacific-Ocean characters, Indian computer scientists, and so forth. Clarke and Sterling and Gibson felt like writers who used the world and the world’s people as a stage in a fundamental manner that I didn’t feel as much in other works.
As an author I have no idea what statement or challenge I’ve really thrown down to other writers coming after me. If pressed further, I think part of a message I have is that fiction written with non-white characters or by non-white authors doesn’t have to be magical realist or “literary” in nature. I get these “disappointed” letters every once in a while from people that I write straight up action/adventure. But then I get letters from people who expected “ethnic SF/F” (their words, not mine) to be boring, and were totally pumped by the action/adventure featuring Caribbean heroes. My statement/challenge is that there is no one true route to adding diversity to our field, but that that route should be diverse in and of itself. Adventure shouldn’t be a specialized field, and diversity isn’t a dirty word, it can be a great deal of explosive fun. So in addition to opening things up a little, I’m also hoping that writers who follow will realize that they can forge their own brand, and that they should, thus widening the field.
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