Posts tagged ‘Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand’

Diverse Science Fiction

There’s been a lot of discussion lately about diversity in science fiction, with a flurry recently (at least on my Facebook wall) of people reacting to K. Tempest Bradford’s I Challenge You to Stop Reading White, Straight, Cis Male Authors for One Year. I’m not particularly interested in entirely cutting out any group from my reading (and in any case that would be impossible since I’m not going to change my open submissions policy and submissions are about half of my reading—though we’re closed to submissions at the moment and won’t reopen until autumn), but I think Bradford is talking about something really important here.

I read to learn, to connect, and to escape—sometimes all three at once. I want to read books from other countries and cultures and backgrounds than mine so I can have a more complete picture of humanity. I want to read widely and wildly. To that end, I want to read authors from other countries, other races, other sexual orientations, than my own. So, to share the joy, here’s are a few of the diverse books I’ve enjoyed recently.

 

summerprincebig file.JPG       Alaya Dawn Johnson’s The Summer Prince puts us in a futuristic matriarchal Brazil, where men compete to become the Kings that die at the end of every glorious year and the Aunties are the ones who are really in charge. It’s about creative stagnation and what’s important in art as much as it’s about a revolution against a calcifying state, and I can’t stop recommending it to all my friends.

BUY: Amazon ; Barnes & Noble ; Powell’s.

Samuel R Delaney’s Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand was first published in 1984, but I first read it last year. I wasn’t particularly jazzed about the love story (which reduced love to eroticism) but was super excited about everything else: the sprawling space epicness of the protagonist’s diplomatic travel from world to world, the slow gorgeously-told reveals, the play with gender and race, and the essential danger of knowledge causing societies to melt down.       Samuel R. Delaney_1984_Stars In My Pocket Like Grains Of Sand

BUY: Amazon ; Barnes & Noble ; Powell’s.

250px-The_Fat_Years       Chan Koonchung’s The Fat Years is a near-future (except in the past, since it was published in 2009) story set in post-global-economic-meltdown China where China has entered a golden age of prosperity, and everybody is tremendously happy for some pretty dodgy reasons. It is banned in China for talking openly about the Cultural Revolution, the Tiananmen Square massacre of 1989 and the Falun Gong suppression. I listened to it as an audiobook on a long drive, and was riveted.

BUY: Amazon ; Barnes & Noble ; Powell’s.

The Stars Change by Mary Anne Mohanraj is a far-future fast-paced novel with alternating viewpoints characters in a race against time to stop a bomb from destroying a populous area of a large city (and potentially also destroying the goodwill that allows interspecies cooperation on the planet). It’s also a love story and a story about the power of large families. I raced through it and found it tons of fun.       2812959157662551b78017a55ca17119

BUY: Amazon ; Barnes & Noble ; Powell’s.

nalo       Report from Planet Midnight isn’t Jamaican-Canadian Nalo Hopkinson’s best book, but it’s the one I’ve read most recently and I thought it was pretty great, and it’s very short, so a good introduction to her Afro-Caribbean short stories. My favourite was “Message in a Bottle,” about an artist discovering how much his work comes to mean to the future.

BUY: Amazon ; Barnes & Noble ; Powell’s.

Roadside Picnic by Russian authors Arkady Strugatsky and Boris Strugatsky is a 1972 novel that I only found out about after it was re-issued in 2012. Aliens leave behind some garbage that makes the local area wildly unsafe (gravity sinks, hell slime, etc.) and our protagonist risks his life to steal an alien artifact from that area, and better his lower middle class existence. Solidly fun and surreal Soviet classic.       roadside-picnic-new1

BUY: Amazon ; Barnes & Noble ; Powell’s.

1q84-cover       Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84 was celebrated widely when it came out so you probably already know about it, but it’s so excellent I couldn’t leave it off this list. A young woman enters a parallel dimension very similar to ours, and meets there a childhood friend who is ghostwriting a book by a dyslexic teenager who has a vision of another alternate reality. It starts slow (lovingly-described meal assembly can take paragraphs), but stick with it. Gorgeously-written, marvelous fantasy novel.

BUY: Amazon ; Barnes & Noble ; Powell’s.

 
And, finally, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention:

Upper Rubber Boot Books’ forthcoming anthology of science fiction on the immigrant experience, How to Live on Other Planets: A Handbook for Aspiring Aliens, is more than half writers of color, and also includes many non-American and immigrant writers:       HTLOOP-COVER-front
  • Dean Francis Alfar & Elyss G. Punsalan (both Philippines)
  • Nick Wood & Alex Dally MacFarlane & Deborah Walker (all three in the UK)
  • Benjamin Rosenbaum (Switzerland)
  • Bogi Takács (Hungary)
  • RJ Astruc (New Zealand, and whose steampunk short story collection Signs Over the Pacific and Other Stories we published as an ebook last year).
  • Zen Cho (Malaysian living in London)
  • Indrapramit Das (Indian living in Canada)
  • Rose Lemberg (Ukrainian living in the USA)
  • me (Canadian living in the USA)

Through a typo (I put 2/16/15 instead of 3/16/15) that Amazon refuses to fix, the book is available now in paperback on Amazon, in advance of the 16 March release date when it will be available everywhere.

BUY: Amazon (and Kindle pre-order); Kobo pre-order.

 

That’s just dipping your toe in… my to-read list also includes Kabu Kabu by Nnedi Okorafor, Night Watch by Sergei Lukyanenko, Omon Ra by Victor Pelevin, the Ice Trilogy by Vladimir Sorokin, A Stranger in Olondria by Sofia Samatar, Ink by Sabrina Vourvoulias, The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu, This Is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz, The Lost Girl by Sangu Mandanna, Half-Resurrection Blues: A Bone Street Rumba Novel by Daniel José Older, and Spirits Abroad by Zen Cho.

27 February 2015


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