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Speculative Fiction from Around the World

The Dragon and the Stars anthology Cover

The Dragon and the Stars, edited by Derwin Mak and Eric Choi, and featuring stories by ethnic Chinese writers from around the world – including Hong Kong, the Philippines, Singapore, Canada and the United States – is now available for pre-order on Amazon, published by DAW Books in May this year. Here is the recently-unveiled cover!

More details, including the full table of contents and one line summaries, at Eric Choi’s website.

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January 19, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , ,

26 Comments

  1. Cool! (I like the dragon!)

    Comment by Joyce | January 19, 2010

  2. Though on further thought, shouldn’t the dragon be an Oriental dragon?

    Comment by Joyce | January 19, 2010

  3. I greatly applaud the conceit of the book, and it looks like a great table of contents, but…

    Um, DAW? For an anthology featuring ethnically Chinese writers, why the hell is the dragon on the cover art NOT a Chinese dragon?

    I also question the decision by the editors to include their own stories in the book, although this may have been the publisher’s call.

    Comment by Jason Erik Lundberg | January 19, 2010

    • It isn’t. The publisher doesn’t make decisions like that. It’s made by the editors.

      Comment by Sean Wallace | January 19, 2010

      • I only mentioned it because Andy Duncan told me that when he and Brett Cox were editing CROSSROADS, Tor asked them to both include a story as well, even though neither of them felt it was really right to do so.

        Unfortunate that this isn’t the case here.

        Comment by Jason Erik Lundberg | January 20, 2010

  4. That’s an amazing ToC and I will probably buy this book because of that. But ditto others’ comments on the cover. Although it’s beautifully-drawn, if I were picking this up in the bookstore and didn’t know anything else about it, I would put it down again, because it screams “anthology of generic (i.e., Western, which is generic to Westerners by this point) dragon stories”. Granted, these are mostly authors who aren’t living in China, so maybe that was a deliberate choice to indicate the diaspora, but it still looks like every other dragon anthology in English-language bookstores.

    Comment by N. K. Jemisin | January 19, 2010

    • Yeah, I thought about the diaspora aspect too. I’ve been joking with Joyce that it’s a “mixed-race” dragon, but even so, most mixed-raced children will take strongly after the Asian parent! XD

      Comment by Jha | January 20, 2010

    • The thing is… the book isn’t a dragon anthology. :P
      :(

      Comment by Joyce | January 20, 2010

      • Wha — ? ::reads description again:: OK, then this cover makes no sense at all. As a fantasy lover, if there’s a dragon on the cover (this should be a variant of Chekhov’s Gun), I expect some dragons on the inside! Although I would look at this and think, “Oh, somebody’s trying to cash in on the Naomi Novik phenomenon,” and read no further.

        Comment by N. K. Jemisin | January 20, 2010

  5. The cover isn’t especially good, but, um “an Oriental dragon”? Are you kidding me? do you also think it would be better if the typeface was more like that on a Chinese take-out menu? Or maybe there should be a wizened old man stroking his long white beard and wearing a bamboo hat? Your response to the cover boggles the mind. It’s a dragon because dragon is shorthand for fantasy fiction; the description on the cover–and the editors’ names–tell readers already interested in fantasy fiction that this book has something to do with China.

    As for the editors being in the book: this should only be controversial if the editors are terrible writers. Is it controversial that Robert Aickman appeared in the Fontana ghost story anthologies he edited? Is is controversial when a Kelly Link story was reprinted in the Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror that she co-edited? Of course not.

    And does Sean Wallace actually know what the arrangement was, or is he simply stirring the pot with an assumption (reasonable or otherwise)?

    Comment by David Yao | January 20, 2010

    • No one’s talking about banking on all sorts of stereotypes just to code the anthology as Chinese. Some of us would like to see a dragon that’s coded as Chinese on the cover, seeing as it is an anthology of Chinese writers.

      This may not be a big deal for some, nor even a controversy, but it would be nice to see some representation of the contents besides a generic dragon.

      The cover of Ying Compestine’s “Banquet of Hungry Ghosts”, for example, is clearly coded Chinese, and quite beautifully, non-stereotypically done.

      Comment by Jha | January 20, 2010

    • David,

      I definitely don’t want to see some stereotypical image replace this. But trying to interest fantasy readers by sticking a generic dragon on the cover is also stereotypical, though not racially. It’s like trying to appeal to science fiction readers by sticking a generic spaceship on the cover — it’s so ho-hum and overdone that it doesn’t work unless the book’s also got something else to draw the eye (like some “big names” listed prominently, or something else). Tess Gerritsen, bless her heart, ain’t gonna do it for most fantasy readers.

      I think that when you’ve got a unique anthology, you need unique cover art to draw attention to it. At the very least, a Chinese dragon would be different-looking enough to get past the typical fantasy reader’s jaded “Oh yawn another Pern book/cashing in on Novik/which Warhammer tie-in is that?” reaction.

      Comment by N. K. Jemisin | January 20, 2010

  6. The cover does represent its contents: it’s an anthology of fantasy stories. There’s also text on the cover, and the names of the editors, which further informs potential buyers of the book’s contents.

    I’m speaking to the specific comments above, which propose that if a fantasy collection of ethnic Chinese writers living outside of China is going to feature a dragon, it ought to be a “Chinese dragon.” And I’m saying that that’s potentially more offensive and makes only as much sense as using a dragon that is supposedly “western.”

    I’ll go one step further: those who have called this “whitewashing” in reference to the cover of Magic Under Glass are deeply confused: a book with a black protagonist that features a white woman on the cover is deliberately misleading, and assumes a racist audience that won’t buy a book with a black woman on the cover; a book with a purple cartoon dragon that anthologizes writers from around the world–including the western world–makes no such assumption. I’d sooner call it racist to assume an ethnically Chinese American would want to be represented by a “Chinese dragon”–tasteful or otherwise.

    Comment by David Yao | January 20, 2010

    • And I’d sooner call it Eurocentric to assume that a generic dragon, more often associated with Western literature, would be the best way to represent an anthology which, in its own description, centers itself with the rich cultural heritage of China. (Which is why some of us are wondering what about the dragon indicates the culture within its pages.)

      I don’t see this as a matter of the book cover being deliberately misleading, as it is more thoughtless as to its contents.

      Comment by Jha | January 20, 2010

    • I was one who called it “whitewashing”, though I was being tongue in cheek–and most of my LJ readers seemed to have gotten my meaning. And rather than viewing the cover as something maliciously done, like Jha, it gave the impression of being done without much thought. As someone who designs/illustrates covers from time to time, it struck me as a tragically wasted opportunity where the book could have had a cover that better represented its contents (I frankly don’t believe anyone here expects the cover art to represent the contributing authors) and given some clue of the “rich cultural heritage of China”, without going overboard. (No one’s asking for brushstroke fonts, nor that old man with the beard either–because the title doesn’t call for him.) If it’s only from the small text on the cover that a casual shopper is supposed to get the idea that this book has Chinese-inspired contents, well, the art fails at the job.

      Comment by Janet C | January 20, 2010

  7. I think we can agree on this: it’s a terrible and silly cover, which is a shame! Let’s all hope for a second edition.

    Comment by David Yao | January 20, 2010

    • Yes, THAT we can agree on. I can make that cover in Photoshop, which says something.

      Comment by Jha | January 20, 2010

  8. I read the thread and thought, ” are you serious?” O_o
    You guys had me laugh out loud (and cry)!

    I look forward to that anthology. It’s a wonderful concept.

    Comment by Nathalie Mvondo | January 21, 2010

  9. Whoa this is interesting. But I’m glad they’re doing this and at least it’s not a person. I agree, an the anthology at least and getting in some more diverse fantasy. Oriental dragon would be different and attract attention but I think perhaps the book is about dragons since the title is the dragon? So there may be a few stories of this. I’ll keep my eye out for this book!

    Comment by Ari | January 21, 2010

    • Only two stories involve dragons. It’s kinda like saying the book is about stars since Stars is in the title.

      Comment by Jha | January 22, 2010

  10. Using a dragon doesn’t exactly scream science fiction to me – more like it’s another Lord of the Rings mediaeval storybook. And as far as I can tell, none of the stories are set in a distant mythical past.

    But aside from that, good effort!

    Comment by almost witty | January 22, 2010

  11. Hmmm. I would definitely look at that cover and that title and expect it to be a fantasy book. Which it is.

    It is possible that the two dragon stories in the book have something to do with western style dragons, but I sincerely doubt it.

    I suspect it was a marketing decision, pure and simple, to cater to the majority of fantasy readers (aka white males), which curls my lip.

    It is possible that having this cover will “trick” some readers into picking it up for the cover and accidentally reading some great stories by Chinese writers, so I could see it doing some good.

    Comment by Maggi (Mama Librarian) | January 23, 2010

  12. [...] The Dragon and the Stars anthology Cover « The World SF News Blog: [...]

    Pingback by Read On The Web | January 25, 2010

  13. [...] writers from all over the world. The cover is of a Western dragon, not a Chinese dragon. Click here and here to read blog posts and comments about the [...]

    Pingback by Whitewashing in Young Adult lit :: The Last Airbender Movie Casting | Activism at Racebending.com | January 26, 2010

  14. I don’t like the cover at all, but I look forward to reading the book.

    Comment by Kaethe | February 16, 2010

  15. Glancing at the cover alone, I would not even give it a chance by reading the description or editors’ names… It looks like a fantasy novel…

    Comment by Nolan | July 3, 2010


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