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15 May 2012 @ 05:55 pm

-International Science Fiction reprints my Xuya novelette “Butterfly, Falling at Dawn”. Check out the rest of their fiction, too: they focus on non-Western-Anglophone authors, and they’ve got pretty cool stuff up already, including nice non-fiction articles.

-@requireshate, Joyce Chng, Rachel Swirsky, Rochita Loenen-Ruiz, Ekaterina Sedia and I engage in a discussion on non-Western SF. We tackle writing other cultures, exoticism, non-Western narratives: part 1, and part 2. Many thanks to Fabio Fernandes, Lavie Tidhar and Charles Tan for making this possible.

requireshate: I want to respond to a few things Joyce brought up–the expectations for people like us to be exotic. I’m often questioned as to the authenticity of my identity, because to westerners I appear to be writing “just like them,” steeped in “North American culture” (when in truth I know almost nothing about North America!). This assumption comes about because the hegemony is so huge and pervasive that it becomes, itself, an invisible mass and the default assumption. Mostly, if you write in English and aren’t breaking into malapropisms or broken syntax constantly, you’re immediately assumed to be “one of them,” part of the western paradigm.

(also, because I know this is going to come up at some point, and it’d be hypocritical of me not to mention it: I’m well aware that I’m committing outsider narrative in Obsidian and Blood. I’m doing it for what I believe are good motives–out of interest for the Mexica, to rehabilitate a culture that got the really short end of the stick, and show a mindset that is radically different without descending into Barbaric cliché; I’m doing it in reasonably good conscience of the issues involved in cultural appropriation [1] [2]; but it doesn’t change the fact that my books are not insider depictions of 15th-Century Tenochtitlan. It doesn’t make them worthless or bad; but yes, you can totally argue that, as an outsider writing about that culture, in both time and space, I’m to some extent perpetuating an exoticism problem, and I won’t disagree! I did try my best, but I most probably stumbled in places.
Also, I most certainly do not advocate people should stop writing about other cultures. Just pointing out it’s a fraught subject)


[1] Complicated by the fact that this is a historical culture and not a present-day one–makes some issues simpler, makes other issues harder…
[2] To be fair, my conscience of those issues kind of improved over the trilogy, so I can see the cringy bits in Servant of the Underworld that I tried to smooth out by Master of the House of Darts</p>

Cross-posted from Aliette de Bodard

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