It’s been a while since I wrote a blog entry in BrooklynWriter, and I realize that this is a Very Bad Thing, especially because my first book is actually within months of being released.
So first, the details so far: The name of the book is The History of Soul 2065. It’s a mosaic novel — a collection of interconnected short stories — based on stories that I’ve written over the years, and which I realized a little while ago were actually about the same two families. It’s being published by an independent press called Mythic Delirium, which is owned and operated by the very talented Mike and Anita Allen. The official publication date is June 11, 2019, and it will be available in a number of online venues (where it’s currently in pre-order). We’ve having a number of events to publicize/celebrate it, including at NYRSF Readings this coming Tuesday (7 p.m. at The Brooklyn Commons, 388 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn, NY) with myself and Theodora Goss (author of Snow White Learns Witchcraft), and at Readercon this July, where the book will be officially launched.
Mike has been working very hard to get word out about the book. And he’ll need to, in order to battle the author’s (in other words, my) natural pessimism, which is even now busily and silently screaming, “nobody will read it” “nobody will like it” “you’ll sell a few copies to your close friends, and that will be it” etc. etc. All my writer friends know exactly what I’m talking about. Well, most of them, anyway.
So I’d better stop listening to that voice and get to it — keeping this blog updated, keeping this site updated, and perhaps talking a bit about the various stories that make up the book, why they were written, and how. And taking some time to create more stories.
The first time I ever submitted a story to a writing class in college was a memorial one — at least, for me.
We were critiquing two pieces: a science fiction story that I had written, and a poem written by another girl in the class. The teacher opened the proceedings by saying that he had stopped reading science fiction when he was 12 and didn’t consider it an appropriate literature for adults. He prefaced the critique of the poem by saying that he thought there was no such thing as good political poetry. (Needless to say, after that, both the story and the poem were thoroughly trashed by both the teacher and most of the students.)
I wonder what he would have made of the anthology We See A Different Frontier, edited by Fabio Fernandes and Djibril al-Ayad. It is an unabashedly political collection of what, in the introduction, Aliette de Bodard calls “the voices of the invaded; of the colonized; of the erased and the oppressed.” In other words, it contains 16 stories about colonization from the point of view of those colonized (rather than of the colonizers).
My teacher wasn’t completely wrong. Politics often doesn’t make for good literature — there are too many writers who don’t feel the need to pay attention to the language as well as the message. This, however, doesn’t apply to the stories in this really excellent anthology. While there were two or three entries that didn’t really appeal to me for one reason or another, all the stories here are expertly and impressively crafted, and most had me riveted (to the point that I once missed my subway stop).
And these are not only quality pieces of fiction, but they express a variety of complex viewpoints of colonialism and its impact that resist the simple bad guy/good guy tropes that are so tempting in these cases. Rahul Kanakia’s story “Droplet,” for example, tells about a young man’s maturing as he discovers the truths and lies behind his family’s history in the U.S. and India. Lavie Tidhar’s “Dark Continents” weaves and reweaves several different alternate histories. Sunny Moraine’s non-human protagonist tries to come to terms with memories of genocide in “A Heap of Broken Images.” And J.Y. Yang’s “Old Domes” illustrates how the ghosts of the past and the future can make peace with each other.
If you’re looking for alternative viewpoints in your speculative fiction, this is a good place to come. However, if you’re not interested in your or anyone else’s agenda, and are simply in the market for good, well-written specfic, then We See A Different Frontier belongs on your list as well.