World SF

Mar. 13th, 2010 05:37 pm
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Norman Spinrad @ Asimov's On Books: Third World Worlds [Warning: Problematic]
Anglophone science fiction has a long history of stories of contact between non-human civilizations and ourselves. Anglophone science fiction has perhaps a smaller but quite significant trove of novels and stories written from the points of view, even the first person points of view, of non-human sapients who differ from us not merely in biology or technological level or cultural assumptions, but style of consciousness itself.

We've got the literary tools. We’ve developed them over nearly a century. Anglophone science fiction writers fear not to tackle alien beings, civilizations, and consciousnesses from other planets. But what about the ones on this one?

Jason Sanford @ Fiction, Thoughts, and Ramblings: I promised myself I wouldn't rant, but then...
To Spinrad's credit, he admits he is ignorant of much of the world's literature, being limited to what is translated into English. And he is also specifically talking about science fiction, not the larger speculative fiction traditions which include fantasy and magic realism. But come on! The SF community had been talking about world science fiction for the last year, especially in light of Lavie Tidhar's excellent anthology The Apex Book of World SF (which, again, focuses on more than only science fiction) and Tidhar's related blog.

I don't have the patience tonight to dissect all that is wrong with Spinrad's column. Because I swear if I don't get off the computer right now it will be weeks before I can stop ranting.

Nick Mamatas @ Haikasoru: World SF, Worth Reading BEFORE developing an opinion
In the end, it just feels as though Spinrad isn’t making a cultural argument, but a racialist one. Japan was occupied by the US and the origins of modern Japanese SF are most often located by historians to that occupation and subsequent cultural exchange. (Even the pre-war Japanese SF, of which there was some, was heavily influenced by translations of Western SF and mystery stories.) Why insist that Latin America is essentially connected to the “First World”, but that African and Asian countries—which include many Francophones and Anglophones thanks partially to colonialism—somehow are not. (And thus have no SF!) In Spinrad’s essay, there appears to be an unexamined assumption that Africans and Asians are fundamentally different than Europeans—and “Europe” for mysterious reasons includes the peoples of the Americas. This is not even due to a dependence on the old framework of First/Second/Third World, as Spinrad acknowledges how problematic these terms are.

[ profile] fiction_theory: The fail, it burns.
When a white, American person starts talking about the lack of this or the lack of that where it concerns non-white folks and non-American areas, the problem these days seems to be (by and large) that they aren't looking, don't want to look, and prefer a landscape where their assumptions that only white English-speakers are writing, reading, and participating is true.

Writers of speculative fiction of all kinds are out there in all parts of the world. In Nigeria, in South Korea, in Turkey, in Brazil, in all the many, many places where people tell stories. Maybe they don't come in forms that readily present themselves to Americans as speculative fiction. They exist, and you'll find them if you ever bother to take off the privilege goggles and look.

charlesatan @ The World SF News Blog: The Dilemma of the Term "World SF" Redux
Last year, I wrote an essay entitled The Dilemma of the Term “World SF” on my blog. Right now, a couple of people in the blogosphere feels indignant at Norman Spinrad’s latest column, "Third World Worlds", and I bring up my previous essay because Spinrad’s editorial tackles some of the themes which I originally brought up. What gets lost in some of the rants is that Spinrad does bring up some important and valuable points. For example, he writes about American and British writers tackling foreign cultures in their fiction (and I’d like to add writers like Geoff Ryman and Paolo Bacigalupi to that list). In some cases, they work, while in others, they don’t. Whether it’s the former or the latter however, it begs the question: can writers like Mike Resnick and Paul McAuley and Ian McDonald be considered World SF writers?

Fabio Fernandes @ Post-Weird Thoughts: Brazil on International SF - still some thoughts, with a little help from Norman Spinrad
That's my opinion as well, which I expressed briefly on my last post. But apparently that's where me and Mr. Spinrad stop agreeing with each other.

For starters, I personally couldn't care less about First, Second, and Third World denominations any longer. We are really in the same boat and it is sinking. This is not tree-hugger left-wing talk. We SF writers should have known that for a long time now.

Cheryl Morgan @ Cheryl's Mewsings: Thanks Nick
The other reason, and you’ll get bored of my saying this soon, is that the English speaking world is woefully uninterested in translated fiction. That’s why some friends and I have started translation awards. Perhaps if Mr. Spinrad were to read the blog there regularly (and the excellent World SF News blog) he would become somewhat better informed. And if he’d like to help support the awards we may see a lot more translated fiction in the future.

Larry @ OF Blog of the Fallen: Norman Spinrad and the latest kerfluffle about international SF, with positive remedies
But since this post is meant not just to castigate someone for poor choice of words, but rather to be helpful for those who are left thinking, "No, really...what 'international SF' is out there that I can sample?"

[ profile] nojojojo: What really pisses me off about Spinrad's article...
African Americans -- those of us who are the descendants of slaves, specifically -- are not cultural blanks. We are not white people with black skin. Not even slavery could erase who and what my ancestors were. Slavery forced them to give up a lot, yes: language, many customs, overt expression of their religious beliefs, even the physical distinctions that set one African ethnic group apart from another. But they kept what they could, and passed it on to their descendants, and that legacy is neither small nor insignificant. Some of this legacy we're aware of -- our prayers, our art, our cuisine. Some of it we're rediscovering -- our contributions to civilization, our real history. Some of it we've even been magnanimous enough to share with the rest of America. Bottom line: we don't just call ourselves African American as an affectation, or a pointless point of pride. We call ourselves this because we are different.

[ profile] lennan: Miscellany
But I find it very discomforting to see a person just write off the experiences of a minority in a "First World" or "Civilized World" context as if everyone experiences that lifestyle the same. To me, there are a lot of elements in so-called non-developing countries that are very reminiscent of developing countries, for one. If we're going to stop ignoring the viewpoint of a "native" of a developing world, then why not stop ignoring the disadvantaged of our own "first" world?

Polenth @ Polenth's Quill: Making African Science Fiction Invisible
I suspect the point he hoped to make was that people should get out more and write about more places. The point he actually made was that white Americans/Europeans should write about more places, because the people from those places couldn't.

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