A selection of SFnal essays, reviews, and book recommendation lists that I’ve read recently and found poignant and interesting. (As well as one by me elseweb that is less “poignant” than typical “my-ass-is-so-chapped-that-I-must-rant” that I forgot to ever link here.) Subjects include Caribbean literature, Afrofuturism, investigations into this category as well as that of “fantasy,” and feminist resistance.
“Which This Margin is Too Small to Contain” by Vajra Chandrasekera. “Which is what brings me back to the first point, that ‘diversity’ is a property of a group and not an individual… the ‘diversity’ is reified and placed inside the body of the writer. It moves focus away from the editorial policies and acquisition decisions.” (I’ve read this essay several times now, and if you haven’t yet encountered it, you may want to get on that.)
“9 Diverse Fantasy Books That Will Challenge Your Idea of Fantasy Fiction” by Troy L. Wiggins in Book Riot. “My belief is that Fantasy literature is the perfect lens for readers to challenge our ideas of humanity, violence, society, and power.”
Whispers from the Cotton Tree Root: Caribbean Fabulist Fiction by Nalo Hopkinson, reviewed by Leslie Light in Black Nerd Problems. “…By stretching the boundaries of what counts as science fiction/fantasy, they speak directly to me as a Black reader who is looking for something more. The genre police use ‘the usual’ to avoid interrogating why something is ‘usual.’ These stories refuse to be just one thing, embracing a both/and philosophy and demonstrating how much fun fiction can be that centers the rest of us and our ways of storytelling.”
“Things to Come,” transcript by Aaron Bady in Jalada. Panel on Afro-futurism with Sofia Samatar and Nnedi Okorafor. “I think that in many African cultures, the idea of the mystical being part of the world—the mystical and the mundane being combined—is a natural thing. So, for me, writing something that was fantastical was natural to me. I never thought of it as ‘fantasy.'”
“Magic is Afoot” by Ethan Robinson. “Too much of what is called ‘fantasy’, it seems to me, seeks to speak the mountains’ dancing while out of the other side of its mouth saying god (broadly speaking) is dead. And even those individual works that do not, it again seems to me, are made to do so every time they are described as fantasy.” (Several links to offshoot discussions are contained in this post; a few gentlemen get very deep in their feels. Bring smelling salts.)
Sisters of the Revolution, ed. by Ann VanderMeer and Jeff VanderMeer, reviewed by Kari Sperring in Strange Horizons. “Women are both expected to write about the condition of being female and dismissed for it… Yet at the same time we are caught, here, within the bounds set by patriarchy for women’s concerns. And that is part of the problem, for as long as we accept that confinement, we do not break it, even if our acceptance is qualified by anger and resistance.”
“Epic Female Protagonists Written by Women” by me in Fantasy Cafe (it feels kind of obnoxious to include myself here, but I forgot to ever link it anywhere else! So into my linkspam post it goes. I’ve noticed this pattern of dude authors talking about writing female characters like they invented it or something and it’s new and edgy and, honestly, this is just another form of labor erasure: dudes take something women have been doing forever, rebrand it, and act like they invented it. Fuck that).