February 12, 2017

Slice of PIE: North, South, East, West – Beyond the Four Corners of THIS World

Using the panel discussions of the most recent World Science Fiction Convention in Kansas City in August 2016 (to which I was invited and had a friend pay my membership! [Thanks, Paul!] but was unable to go (until I retire from education)), I will jump off, jump on, rail against, and shamelessly agree with the BRIEF DESCRIPTION given in the pdf copy of the Program Guide. This is event #2363. The link is provided below…

Fandom: We Are the World – Our international panel discusses experiences in fandom, including similarities and differences that have surprised them most when attending events and talking to other fans, both on and offline.

Christopher Kastensmidt – of German ancestry, he currently lives, works, and writes in Brazil
Takayuki Tatsumi – Japanese professor and author of SF, in particular, cyberpunk
Arkady Martine – aka AnnaLinden Weller, author and scholar from the US
Ron Yaniv –  publisher of the magazine Chalomot Be’aspamia (original Israeli science fiction and fantasy stories)
Carolina Gomez Lagerlof – works in Sweden as a patent examiner for pharmaceuticals
Ms. Clare McDonald-Sims – a reader and collector of SF books, digests and pulp. “…a serial committee member and volunteer for fan clubs and smaller conventions in Melbourne, Australia.”

Brazil, Japan, US, Israel, Sweden, Australia – good job whoever put together the team!

Confession: I’ve been to exactly three SF conventions, Diversicon (http://www.diversicon.org/), MarsCon (https://marscon.org/2017/goh.php), and MiniCon (http://mnstf.org/minicon52/) all in Minnesota. Oh, I went to one in like…North Dakota, too, once long, long ago. I’m by no means an expert on international writers.

I CAN say that I’ve had two stories performed by the YA podcast, CAST OF WONDERS based in England, I have a time-travel short story in the Scottish SF Magazine, SHORELINES OF INFINITY; I used to be published by eBook publisher, MuseItUp, which is based in Canada.

So I do know a teensy bit about the international speculative fiction community. I’ve read (attempted to read) lots of British and Canadian SF, I tried Finnish SF (Hannu Rajaniemi), and of course, I’ve read SOLARIS by Stanislaw Lem; and I just placed SHINE on hold at the library which is a collection of positive SF by writers from around the world. This article at the SFWA site has some interesting comments -- http://www.sfwa.org/2010/03/where-is-international-sf/, but it’s pretty outdated.

More recently, Chinese science fiction, primarily through Chinese-American SF writer Ken Liu, has risen in popularity. He’s won several of SF’s major awards both for his own work and for the translation of the novels of Liu Cixin. Maureen F. McHugh also wrote her first novel CHINA MOUNTAIN ZHANG in a universe where the US was taken over by China, and won Tiptree, Lambda, and Locus awards.

I find it somewhat strange that for whatever reason, Canadian SF has been lumped together with American SF; though Mexican SF is excluded as something different and seems to be rare – at least as far as I can see. Mexican SF writer Gabriel Trujillo Muñoz wrote in an email, “Beginning in 1990 . . . there was a conscientious intent to create a science fiction community . . . it didn't take root…[and he] sees a boom that is over and a situation where ‘even though all the great Mexican writers have practiced it [science fiction] . . . . [they] are ashamed to say it in public.’…he sees a movement that has disbanded and a genre that continues to struggle to be noticed in the national literature scene.” (http://strangehorizons.com/non-fiction/articles/terra-incognita-a-brief-history-of-mexican-science-fiction/)

African SF writers look to be getting more exposure in the coming months, starting last year in July in a series of interviews on the website, boingboing: http://boingboing.net/2016/07/14/100-african-science-fiction-wr.html

While many countries with wealthier populations seem to be producing science fiction, what about Iranian SF? Yemeni SF? The ten poorest countries on Earth – all of them in Africa (http://www.cheatsheet.com/business/10-of-the-richest-and-poorest-countries-in-the-world.html/?a=viewall) might come up in the series I noted above, even the wealthiest countries don’t seem to all have an active SF writer. I can’t name a Qataran SF writer off the top of my head, nor a Singaporean SF writer, either. South Korea – the most technologically advanced country on Earth – also seems to be lacking in its production of SF, though they DO have a strong fantasy presence.

What does it take to stimulate a culture to produce fiction that examines the future? What cultures have a concept of the extraterrestrial – and is that concept tied to the “alien” being from somewhere outside the dominant culture? Why did SF die in Mexico, but is now flourishing in China? Where are the other science fiction writers?

Lots to think about. Much more to read. Maybe more to write about…

No comments: