The World SF Blog

Speculative Fiction from Around the World

Editors’ Note, February 2011

Welcome, readers.

This month we’ll bring you the first column by our Bureau Head for the UAE, Arafaat Ali Khan.
You can also look forward to several articles about Hungarian genre fiction, interviews with Jean-Claude Dunyach and Alberto Cola, Val’s review of Tesseracts 14, and more.

Want to join us? See this page with info for potential coordinators, bureau heads, and reviewers.

Looking forward to hearing from you,

Val Grimm, Editor-in-Chief
Elizabeth A. Allen, Editor

January 31, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Comments Off

Tenth Orbit

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Tenth Orbit and Other Faraway Places is a single-author collection by Argentine writer Gustavo Bondoni, put out by the small press Altered Dimensions and available in paperback and ebook editions. The twenty-two stories comprising this volume are primarily idea-driven science fiction. According to the author, all were originally written in English, rather than having been translated. I believe at least some of the stories were previously published, but there is neither publication history nor individual copyright date for any of them. I would have liked to trace the development of Bondoni’s writing style chronologically, but was unable to do so.
Continue reading

January 31, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | 2 Comments

Asimov’s Science Fiction February 2011

Sci-fi shorts, I admit, are not my best subject, but I took the reviewer position to familiarize myself more with today’s up and coming science fiction authors. Asimov’s Science Fiction is one of the leading science fiction magazines in the market, and the selection they choose is said to be the best of in the short story market. Of course, many names are collected in this volume. The highlighted author of this issue is Paul McAuley’s novella “The Choice;” his latest book is the recently-published sci-fi thriller Cowboy Angels. Other rising stars and sci-fi veterans in this issue include contributions from Aliette de Bodard, David Ira Cleary, and Jane Yolen. This issue has been a solid introduction for me as a science fiction reader, and it provides a range of different subgenres and styles. While I didn’t 100% enjoy every single story in this issue, I was never bored by the stories and the issue as a whole had enough of an interesting selection to have me keep reading.

Continue reading

January 31, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Comments Off

The Key, 31 January 2011

This week we’re offering up links about Chosen Ones, an interesting blog by a Locus short fiction reviewer, new (amusing) terms for sf criticism, sf in Romania, zombies and what people have done with them, “The Secret Feminist Cabal”, what the hell is mythpunk, toxic language, toxic architecture, and belief and imagination. Continue reading

January 31, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | 2 Comments

Author Week #1: An Interview With Ekaterina Sedia

Kicking off our first Author Week: Charles Tan interviews Ekaterina Sedia about her latest novel, The House of Discarded Dreams!

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Hi! Thanks for agreeing to do the interview. The title The House of Discarded Dreams is apt. Which came first, the title or the story? What finalized this as the title of the novel?

Well, the idea of a place where forgotten dreams fester and take on a life of their own and sort of get away from their originators is a very appealing one to me – I played with it for a novel (now abandoned, but it might be resurrected as an e-novella, if all goes well) that centers around literal dreams. For HoDD, I took a more ontogenic, if you will, approach – taking dreams not just of individuals but of the collective unconscious as well, trying to blend the two together. So you can say that the idea came first, than the title, then the story. As to what finalized it – I don’t think there was ever any other option for the title, it came with the book.

When it comes to your published novels, each one is very different from the other. Could you share with us how The House of Discarded Dreams has evolved based on your experience with your previous books?

Well, I get bored easily. So I have to try something different with every book to keep myself interested. The downside of course is that every book is a first book in my case, so I get amused when reviewers talk about my potential to become as good as Somebody Famous. But really, this is it – there’s no unrealized potential, I’m not building up my skills with every book, since they all are different. There’s no linear progression (or any progression). Then again, I’ll probably never be like anyone else.

What made you decide to use African culture and mythology as a key element in the book?

I’m a huge fan of Dambudzo Marechera (a Zimbabwean novelist, terribly underrated) and Amos Tutuola (an amazing Nigerian author). (These two are familiar classics, but I do enjoy modern African literature – for example, Kenya’s Binyavanga Wainaina.)  I can’t really say that there was a decision so much as a general desire to write about immigrant experience – but the one that only touched mine rather than replicated it exactly. One of my closest friends is an immigrant from Zimbabwe, so it seemed like a natural choice to me – something that was unlike mine, and yet close enough to it that I could at least try and get to some universality in it.

Did you find it difficult writing about African culture? What kind of research did you have to do?

Well, the main difficulty for me was to keep my boundaries. This is not the culture I can speak for, so I was careful to approach it from the point of view of someone who is not part of the tradition – the protagonist is an American, with immigrant parents. The question of who is entitled to a culture and who can consider themselves a part of it is an interesting one all by itself; in the book, Vimbai is emphatically not a part of her parents’ world, and thus she approaches some of the traditions as an outsider. So I felt comfortable writing her perspective, but I wouldn’t be doing so from the point of view of her parents. I’m talking about a culture rather than from inside of it, and that is okay, I think. On the other hand, I do understand that some readers will not be interested in this book because it was written by an outsider – and that’s okay too.

As for research – I of course read plenty of fiction and folklore. But my main (voluntary, I hasten to add) source was Tait Chirenje, the friend I mentioned. He was really invaluable in helping me with language as well as cultural references. Without him, I would probably put my foot in my mouth a lot more frequently. You will also notice that Zimbabwean is not the only culture I drew upon – there is a certain degree of amalgamation of cultures in African diaspora, and I wanted to at least touch upon that.

The author and Tait Chirenje

How much of your own personal experience was helpful in writing the novel?

It was helpful, because I do believe that the immigrants in the US share a certain host of experiences – especially those of us who carry ‘undesirable’ (ie, not Western European) accents. There’s also a common experience of being interrogated on your country’s policies, being asked to speak for your entire nation, people assuming that they know your biases without recognizing their own… basically, something Vimbai’s parents are more familiar with than Vimbai herself. So her mother’s frustrations were easier for me to relate to and to understand, I think, than for someone who hasn’t experienced that.

Some of the tension in the story is between the previous generation and the present. What made you decide to explore this kind of conflict and what were the challenges in writing it as such?

First and second generation of immigrants dynamics was always fascinating to me. I know several first generation families in which parents are baffled by the fact of having perfectly American children. Oftentimes, immigrant issues are ignored, because the assumption is that by the second generation they’ll be assimilated into at least the language environment – but it leaves the first generation out of it, as if everyone is just waiting for them to die so that their children and grandchildren are free to develop uncomplicated national identities. And second generation children are being pulled in different directions by society around them and their families. It’s a built-in conflict right there; another issue, somewhat less obvious, is that first generation immigrants often do feel guilt for abandoning if not their country than at least people and families they had there. These splintered identities and loyalties are not a small matter, and they’re far more complex than usual representations of nostalgia in first generation immigrants.

Memory plays a key role in the book. How important is memory in shaping one’s character and culture?

It’s everything. Memory is the tool by which we internalize cultural reference points. In some simplistic way, your identity, cultural or individual, is the sum total of your childhood memories: favorite foods, stories, cartoons – all of these build the basis of that sense of self. And going back to the disconnect between first and second generation: they are of different nationalities because they watched different cartoons as kids (or read different stories).

Additionally, the memory does become blurred and distorted with time. When immigrants write about their home, the memories of it are distorted by nostalgia, and simply by a passage of time. I wouldn’t say that every immigrant writer writing about their home is necessarily an unreliable narrator, but in many cases this is true. So memory in the book as I mentioned before is by necessity faulty and splintered, individual and cultural, reliable and not.

One of the characters in the book describes evil not as maliciousness, but single-mindedness. Could you elaborate more on this idea and why it made sense for the book?

Ha, I wish I could remember what I meant when I wrote that! But looking at it now, I think that the problems inherent in single-mindedness are two-fold: first, there’s a failure to consider how your desired outcomes affect others; secondly; there’s also a failure to consider other possible outcomes which might be just as satisfactory. Both of these serve to block the person off from other people/venues of expression, and such isolation can lead to disconnect and further advancement of one’s goals with greater and greater impacts coupled with lesser and lesser awareness of these impacts.

Anything else you’d like to share or plug?

Always! I have a new novel coming out this year, HEART OF IRON (Prime). Here’s the preliminary back cover copy, revealed here for the first time:

“In a Russia where the Decembrists’ rebellion was successful and the Trans-Siberian railroad was completed before 1854, Sasha Trubetskaya wants nothing more than to have a decent debut ball in St. Petersburg. But her aunt’s feud with the emperor lands Sasha at university, where she becomes one of its first female students—an experiment, she suspects, designed more to prove female unsuitability for such pursuits than offer them education. The pressure intensifies when Sasha’s only friends—Chinese students—start disappearing, and she begins to realize her new British companion, Jack, has bigger secrets than she can imagine.

Sasha and Jack find themselves trying to stop a war brewing between the three empires.  The only place can turn to for help is the Heavenly Kingdom of Great Peace, newly founded by the Taiping rebels. Pursued by the terrifying Dame Florence Nightingale of the British Secret Service, Sasha and Jack escape across Siberia via train to China. Sasha discovers that Jack is not quite the person she thought he was…but then again, neither is she.”

My collection, tentatively titled MOSCOW BUT DREAMING is scheduled for next year. Jeffrey Ford was kind enough to write an introduction for it, which was a thrill all in itself. And of course, there are anthologies I edit: BEWERE THE NIGHT is coming out in May 2011, and there are plans for more.

January 31, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | Comments Off

Author Week #1: Ekaterina Sedia!

I’m glad to introduce a new feature here at the World SF Blog: Author Week, a week-long celebration of an international author. We kick off this week with our first featured author, Ekaterina Sedia. Born and raised in Russia, and now living in the United States, she is the author of novels According to Crow (2005), The Secret History of Moscow (2007), The Alchemy of Stone (2008), and The House of Discarded Dreams (2010). She has also edited the World Fantasy Award winning anthology, Paper Cities (2008), and anthology Running with the Pack (2010).

This week we’ll have an exclusive interview with Sedia; a short story; a review of her latest novel, The House of Discarded Dreams; a guest-post by Sedia; and, finally, a book giveaway!

Three readers can have the chance to win one of Ekaterina Sedia’s books. We have copies available of House of Discarded Dreams, Alchemy of Stone, The Secret History of Moscow and of Running with the Pack. To win one of these, simply leave your name and e-mail address in the comments to this post, as well as specifying which title you would like. Winners will be chosen at random and announced at the end of the week. This post will remain up until then.

We hope you enjoy!

January 31, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | 33 Comments

Apex Book Company Special Promotion

Apex Book Company, publishers of The Apex Book of World SF and the forthcoming Apex Book of World SF 2, are currently running a special offer wherein many of their books will be available signed, and all orders of paper books will come with a free e-book edition. While we are unable to provide signed copies of The Apex Book of World SF, we’re working on a special special promotion, which I hope we’ll announce next week! Please consider ordering directly from Apex to support this excellent independent publisher.

Apart from The Apex Book of World SF, you could try WSB editor Lavie Tidhar‘s An Occupation of Angels or HebrewPunk, the remarkable horror & religion anthology Dark Faith, or pre-order Nick Mamatas‘ (editor of the Haikasoru line of Japanese SF novels) forthcoming book for writers, Starve Better. Or many other fine books!

Please consider picking up some great books, and supporting our great publisher in the process!

 

January 29, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Comments Off

Science Fiction in Romania since the 1990 revolution

Our friends at the Concatenation web site have recently posted Science Fiction in Romania since the 1990 revolution, a continuation of an earlier article, A brief history of Science Fiction in Romania up to 1990:

The fall of the Iron Wall (Curtain) across Europe in 1990, which included the Romania revolution, affected all of Romanian society including its SF community.

The main trends of the Romanian SF community in the last decade of the 20th and the first of the 21st centuries was that a number of the fans within the SF movement gradually gafiated (gafia: got-away-from-it-all), while the writers became editors in publishing houses, or worked in radio and TV stations and also on mainstream cultural periodicals where they started promoting SF, or turned professional and became members of the Romanian Writers Union. Meanwhile the fall of the Iron Wall also enabled Eastern and Western European writers and fans to travel.

Forging international links after 1990
And so, in 1993 a major, largely state-sponsored expedition of some 75 fans and writers made the long journey to Jersey (Channel Isles) for the 1993 Eurocon. This was the largest group of the Romanian community to travel to a foreign SF convention and is a Romanian record that remains unbroken to this day. This visit also served to promote the following year’s Eurocon that was to be held in Timisoara, Romania.

Romania first Eurocon in Timisoara, was held 26th-29th of May, 1994. It was a significant event, attended by several hundreds of people. Guests of Honour (GoHs) included John Brunner (UK), Herbert Franke (Austria), Joe Haldeman (US), Moebius (France), Norman Spinrad (US), Peter Cuczka (Hungary).  Special guests were Jack Cohen (UK), Jonathan Cowie (UK), Gay Haldeman (US), Bridget Wilkinson (UK), Lee Wood (US) and Science Fact & Science Fiction Concatenation a Eurocon Award); two ((1995 and 2000) sponsored visits of Romanian fans to major SF events in Great Britain, two visits (1996 and 1997) of British fans to Romania; and two International Weeks of Science and Science Fiction held in Timisoara (1999 and 2003) complete with internationally renowned GoHs, nationally known writers and fan GoHs.

Both International Weeks of Science and Science Fiction were organised in cooperation with H. G. Wells Society (Timisoara) as well as by those (in both the UK and Romania) involved in the aforementioned Anglo-Romanian Exchange. The first (1999) International Week coincided with a solar eclipse. Robert Sheckley (US) was the Guest of Honour, Tony Chester (England) was Fan Guest.  The second, in May 2003, was even more international with fans from Hungary as well as Spain and, as previously, the Great Britain. Writer Istvan Nemere (Hungary) was meant to be the Eastern European Guest of Honour but, sadly, ill health prevented his attending (he was represented instead by the Fortean academic Mandic Gyorgy). Danut Ungureanu (Romania) was the host nation Guest of Honour. Ian Watson (Great Britain) was the western Guest of Honour who also adopted the role of H. G. Wells as the event’s Ghost of Honour. Scot and Worldcon organiser Vince Docherty was the Fan GoH while writer Roberto Quaglia (Italy) reprised his 1999 role as Toastmaster. This 2003 event also attracted significant coverage in regional and national newspapers, radio and TV. Both International Weeks included a day and an open public event in the nearby town of Jimbolia and a reception by its mayor. – continue reading!

 

January 27, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | 6 Comments

Singapore SF Stories Anthology: Call For Stories

The Speculative Fiction Writers of Singapore have put out a call for submissions for a fiction sample to be published to coincide with the 2011 Singapore Writers Festival:

Theme: HYBRID

Stories should have a link of some sort to Singapore.

These guidelines are for the speculative fiction sampler. Submissions are currently open.

PLEASE READ CAREFULLY

Submitted entries MUST:

  1. be between 2,000 to 6,500 words
  2. be speculative fiction– fiction that largely contains elements of science fiction, fantasy, horror, alternate history/reality, and related genres.
  3. be primarily written in (UK) English
  4. be authored by Singaporeans or residents of Singapore (not necessarily PRs).

Submission Guidelines:

  1. The theme for this anthology is “HYBRID“. Submissions should be constructed around this theme, but the theme is open to individual author’s interpretation. The hybrid in question could be a biological hybrid, technological hybrid, cultural hybrid, thematic hybrid etc.
  2. We would strongly prefer that submissions be linked to something Singaporean, whether in terms of setting, character, or themes inspired by life in Singapore e.g. overcrowding on public transport, etc.

Submission Details:

  1. We will be accepting submissions between the 1st January 2011 and 30th April 2011.
  2. Submissions should be emailed to specfic.sg@gmail.com, with “Singaporean Spec-Fic Sampler Submission” and the author’s name in the subject.
  3. Submissions should be typeset in 12-point Courier New or Times New Roman, double-spaced, and saved in Rich Text (.rtf) or Word document (.doc) formats. All submissions should include title, author’s name, and byline (if applicable).
  4. Each person is allowed up to three submissions. But only a maximum of one submission will be included in the anthology.
  5. We accept reprints of previously published stories, as long as the author has retained the rights.
  6. The response time for submissions is 30 days. If you have not heard from us 30 days after sending in your submissions, send a query to specfic.sg@gmail.com–we may have overlooked your email. No priority will be given to queries sent in before the response time is up.
  7. We will contact all authors with the results of our decisions by the 31st of May, whether or not their submission has been accepted.
  8. All submissions chosen for the anthology may be edited.
  9. The editors reserve the right to reject submissions based on inappropriate content, including (but not limited to) excessively graphic sex & violence, and disrespect towards individuals, groups, cultures and religions.
  10. No remuneration will be paid for accepted submissions–the primary purpose of this anthology is just to provide exposure for Singaporean speculative fiction. Royalties earned from publication, if any, will be split between the authors.
  11. Authors will retain both copyright and publishing rights over their submissions.

 

January 26, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | | 2 Comments

Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, #26, November 2010

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Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet (LCRW) is a ‘zine that Small Beer Press has published for ages now (in ‘zine time at least, the first issue is dated November 1996), and has a reputation for strange, original fiction that bulges well out of the corset of genre. For a long time it was a quarterly. Now it is, alas, biannual, but for a happy reason. Editors Gavin Grant and Kelly Link now have a baby girl. LCRW is a founding publication in the variously-named zone known as slipstream or interstitial fiction. Both editors are writers as well, Kelly Link being the more widely known, and both are former co-editors of the Datlow fantasy and horror annual Best-Of collections. Readers of the Datlow anthologies might recognize some elements in the ‘zine’s fiction, but LCRW focuses on shorter work and is freer in the style and tone of pieces it publishes. Since LCRW is their own, Gavin and Kelly can publish whatever the hell they want, and they do, and it’s great (usually). The unpredictability is part of what makes LCRW a ‘zine, and not something more commercial. In the larger context of the field, the editors have built a reputation for knowing quality when they see it, and for encouraging new talent. Those who publish in LCRW know they will be read by the Best Of editors, for example. At the same time, as a reader, you can expect to find gems by people you’ve never heard of, because that has been a part of the soul of LCRW since the beginning.
Continue reading

January 26, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | 2 Comments

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