Last week I ended my column by stating that “[w]e need to draw deeper not just from those other wells [of inspiration], but from [our] own, understand our own depths before we go diving into others.” This week I want to discuss that statement, pick it apart and try to articulate what it signifies to me. That statement is significant to me as writer and reader because it reflects the importance and promise of literature to me. And by “literature” here I mean the written work that has meaning for me and brings me joy and fodder for rumination. Much of that literature is fantastic in nature, and I want to reflect on what the explicitly fantastic has to offer us as literature, what good writers can do with it and what good readers can glean from it.

The problem is, this idea of drawing deeper is subjective; it depends on the individual writer (and reader!) for its infusion and decoding in a story. What does it mean to “draw deeper?” What qualifies as doing so? Personal investment? Fine detail? Mythic resonance? Beautiful writing? The answer is hard to pin down, but what I am driving at is a combination of care and insight. I use both terms as broadly as possible, but when I think of drawing deeper, I think of assiduousness and illumination. I think of attention to detail, but attention that is sensitive and deft; I want to feel what I am reading has empathy and veracity (as opposed to Truth, for example).

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[Do you have an idea for a future Mind Meld? Let us know!]

In recent years, the ascension of several former Third World countries to a better economical and geopolitical standing (the best example of which are the like the BRICS – Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) has been slowly but steadily bringing a change of paradigms in the way science fiction sees the world. Could it be that novels like Paolo Bacigalupi’s The Wind-Up Girl, Ian McDonald’s Brasyl and The Dervish House, to name just a few, are some of the harbingers of this change? Or, as their authors are Western in origin and haven’t lived in the countries they portrayed, would they still be focusing on the so-called exotic aspect of foreign countries and therefore failing to see the core of these cultures?

We asked this week’s panelists:

Q: How do you Write Science Fiction on a Post-Colonial World? Do you think belonging to a Non-Western culture is essential to write a really good, convincing story about it? Is being an outsider to the culture you want to write about, an enriching or impoverishing experience (or doesn’t it matter in the end)?

Here’s what they said…

Joyce Chng
Born in Singapore but a global citizen, Joyce Chng writes mainly science fiction (SFF) and YA fiction. She likes steampunk and tales of transformation/transfiguration. Her fiction has appeared in Crossed Genres, Semaphore Magazine, Bards and Sages Quarterly and Everyday Fiction. Her urban fantasy novels Wolf At The Door and Obsidian Moon, Obsidian Eye (written as J. Damask) are published by Lyrical Press. Her short story “The Sound Of Breaking Glass” is side by side with luminaries in The Apex Book of World SFF vol II. Her blog is found at A Wolf’s Tale. She wrangles kids and promises she is still normal.

I have to disagree, though a writer from a non-Western culture might understand the nuances of being a post-colonial writer better.

A Western writer who wants to write a convincing story has so many opportunities at his or her fingertips. Thanks to globalization, we have access to the Internet, the chance to talk to people living in non-western countries via a plethora of tools and gosh, libraries. Accessing information now is so easy, so simple – many do not even have to step out of their rooms. At the same time, you can ask a friend who is from the said culture(s) you are writing about to vet it. Do not be afraid to ask questions. Research. Let it be an enriching experience. Worldbuilding does not emerge out of the ether nor do you pluck it out of thin air.

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Ekaterina Sedia has posted the table of contents for her upcoming anthology Circus: Fantasy Under the Big Top. Check out this stellar lineup:
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Ekaterina Sedia’s Book Cover Hat Trick

Generally speaking, most authors don’t get to choose the art that grace the covers of their books. Many authors luck out and get some spectacular cover art for the a book release, but it’s rare that an author scores again and again.

And here comes another edition of Ekaterina Sedia’s book The Alchemy of Stone. I’ve seen three versions of this book’s cover (shown above):

Three image, three separate artists, all of them absolutely spectacular.

[via Dark Wolf's Fantasy Reviews]

Ekaterina Sedia has posted the table of contents for her upcoming YA anthology Wilful Impropriety: 13 Tales Of Society And Scandal:

  1. “The Dancing Master” by Genevieve Valentine
  2. “The Unladylike Education Of Agatha Tremain” by Stephanie Burgis
  3. “At Will” by Leanna Renee Hieber
  4. “Steeped In Debt To The Chimney Pots” by Steve Berman
  5. “Outside The Absolute” by Seth Cadin
  6. “Resurrection” by Tiffany Trent
  7. “Mrs Beeton’s Book Of Magickal Management” by Karen Healey
  8. “The Garden Of England” by Sandra Mcdonald
  9. “False Colours” by Marie Brennan
  10. “Nussbaum’s Golden Fortune” by M. K. Hobson
  11. “The Colonel’s Daughter” by Barbara Roden
  12. “Mercury Retrograde” by Mary Robinette Kowal
  13. “The Language Of Flowers” by Caroline Stevermer

TOC: Running With the Pack edited by Ekaterina Sedia

Ekaterina Sedia’s new werewolf anthology, Running With the Pack, has a table of contents:

  1. “Wild Ride” by Carrie Vaughn
  2. “Side Effects May Include” by Steve Duffy
  3. “Comparison of Efficacy Rates for Seven Antipathetics as Employed Against Lycanthropes” by Marie Brennan
  4. “Beautiful Gelreesh” by Jeffrey Ford
  5. “Skin in the Game” by Samantha Henderson
  6. “Blended” by C.E. Murphy
  7. “Locked Doors” by Stephanie Burgis
  8. “Werelove” by Laura Anne Gilman
  9. “In Sheep’s Clothing” by Molly Tanzer
  10. “Royal Bloodlines” by Mike Resnick
  11. “Dire Wolf” by Genevieve Valentine
  12. “Take Back the Night” by Lawrence Schimel
  13. “Mongrel” by Maria Snyder
  14. “Deadfall” by Karen Everson
  15. “Red Riding Hood’s Child” by N.K. Jemisin
  16. “Are You A Vampire or A Goblin?” by Geoffrey Goodwin
  17. “The Pack and the Pickup Artist” by Mike Brotherton
  18. “The Garden, the Moon, the Wall” by Amanda Downum
  19. “Blamed For Trying To Live” by Jesse Bullington
  20. “The Barony At Rodal” by Peter Bell
  21. “Inside Out” by Erzbet Yellowboy
  22. “Gestella” by Susan Palwick

It will be available in March 2010

[via 14theditch]

SF Tidbits for 8/11/09

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