The World SF Blog

Speculative Fiction from Around the World

Silvia Moreno-Garcia on Lovecraft: Racing and Literature

Silvia Moreno-Garcia comments on the topic raised last week by Nnedi Okorafor, discussing Lovecraftian fiction in general.

Lovecrat was a racist. That should come as no surprise to anyone who has read about him. He was also a knot of contradictions (not only because he married a Jewish woman after railing against Jewish people), which is no excuse, it’s just fact. I won’t even bother with the product-of-his-time thing because he was, and yeah. Lovecraft’s fears about everything (and boy, he had a number of fears) were channeled into his stories, so that it becomes pretty obvious that he didn’t like people who looked like me (“Red Hook” anyone?).

But just because Lovecraft was one way it doesn’t mean we have to be the same way. This is the mantra behind Innsmouth Free Press, where we’ve had a multi-cultural issue(Ekaterina Sedia, Charles R. Saunders and others contributed to it) and now two anthologies (Historical Lovecrat and Future Lovecraft) with writers from more than a dozen countries, some of them translated into English. The latest anthology, for example, has contributors from places like Nigeria, the Philippines and Germany. And the stories and poems are not about polite gentlemen from New England. “Tloque Nahuaque,” translated from the Spanish by me and penned by Nelly Geraldine Garcia-Rosas, puts the Higgs boson debate in a decidedly Mexican context (Tloque Nahuaque refers to a Prehispanic deity).

When Paula R. Stiles and I read slush, we still find a lot of stories that try to emulate Lovecraft by placing the tales in New England, with upper-crust white men as protagonists. During our Historical Lovecraft submissions period we got a big wave of the Victorian white gentleman, which caused me to blog about this and request more stories that veered from that narrow location and era because, hell, who wants to read an anthology called Historical Lovecraft and find out all we are representing is Boston 1880 to 1910? Instead, we managed to obtain some colonial Mexico and a bit of Egypt, among other things.

So what I don’t want to see with this debate is minority writers saying “shucks, I’ll never write a Lovecraft story because he was a racist asshole.” Because Lovecraft does raise interesting points and you can construct a refreshing dialogue by taking his settings, characters, idea or the like, and adapting them to your needs. If we don’t go there and start creating our own stories upon those Lovecraftian shores, nobody else will. – read the full post, with comments.

December 19, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | 1 Comment

H.P. Lovecraft’s racism & The World Fantasy Award statuette

Nnedi Okorafor, this year’s winner of the World Fantasy Award for best novel (and a contributor to the upcoming Apex Book of World SF 2!), has a post up discussing the issue of the award statuette being shaped in the likeness of H.P. Lovecraft, a notorious racist (favourite quote – “ stunted brachycephalic South-Italians & rat-faced half-Mongoloid Russian & Polish Jews, & all that cursed scum!” – courtesy of Scott Edelman).

Nnedi writes:

A statuette of this racist man’s head is in my home. A statuette of this racist man’s head  is one of my greatest honors as a writer. A statuette of this racist man’s head sits beside my Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature in Africa and my Carl Brandon Society Parallax Award (an award given to the best speculative fiction by a person of color). I’m conflicted.

The first thing I did was consult the hive mind on facebook. And what a conversation ensued. Several authors (including Steve Barnes and Jeff VanderMeer) weighed in on the topic. See the conversation here. This discourse led me to ask the winner of last year’s World Fantasy Award for Best Novel China Miéville (he’s also written and lectured extensively on Lovecraft) what he thought. He had much to say on the matter:

“Yes, indeed, the depth and viciousness of Lovecraft’s racism is known to me …It goes further, in my opinion, than ‘merely’ *being* a racist – I follow Michel Houellebecq (in this and in no other arena!) in thinking that Lovecraft’s oeuvre, his work itself, is inspired by and deeply structured with race hatred. As Houellebecq said, it is racism itself that raises in Lovecraft a ‘poetic trance’. He was a bilious anti-semite (though one who married a Jew, because, if you please, he granted that she was ‘assimilated’), and if you read stories like ‘The Horror at Red Hook’, the bile you will see towards people of colour, of all kinds (with particular sneering contempt for African Americans unless they were suitably Polite and therefore were patricianly granted the soubriquet ‘Negro’) and the mixed communities of New York and, above all (surprise surprise – Public Enemy were right) ‘miscegenation’ are extended and toxic.”

It’s not as if I haven’t encountered this issue before. One of my favorite authors is Stephen King. Yet, in several of his novels (including one of my all time favorites- The Talisman), he features Super Duper Magical Negros. That’s a very mild example. I certainly don’t feel that King hates black people.
Do I want “The Howard” (the nickname for the World Fantasy Award statuette. Lovecraft’s full name is “Howard Phillips Lovecraft”) replaced with the head of some other great writer? Maybe. Maybe it’s about that time. Maybe not. What Iknow I want it to face the history of this leg of literature rather than put it aside or bury it. If this is how some of the great minds of speculative fiction felt, then let’s deal with that… as opposed to never mention it or explain it away. If Lovecraft’s likeness and name are to be used in connection to the World Fantasy Award, I think there should be some discourse about what it means to honor a talented racist. - read the full post.

December 15, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | 9 Comments

World Fantasy Award Nominations

We’re very pleased to note we’re up for the World Fantasy Award – Lavie for the World SF Blog, and Charles for his own Bibliophile Stalker blog, both in the Special Award – Non Professional category.

A very strong year for this award, with a more international flavour than is usual for it. I am very pleased to see two Apex Book of World SF 2 contributors (Lauren Beukes and Nnedi Okorafor) short-listed in the Best Novel category, French publishers Stéphane Marsan & Alain Névant nominated in the Special Award – Professional for Bragelonne, and Angélica Gorodischer being given a Lifetime Achievement award.

Congratulations to all the nominees!

From Locus:

The World Fantasy Awards Lifetime Achievement Winners for 2011 are Peter S. Beagle and Angélica Gorodischer. The awards are presented annually to individuals who have demonstrated outstanding service to the fantasy field.

The World Fantasy Awards nomination ballot has also been announced. Winners will be announced at this year’s World Fantasy Convention, to be held October 27-30, in San Diego CA. (Lifetime Achievement winners are announced in advance of the event).

Nominees are:

Best Novel

  • Zoo City, Lauren Beukes (Jacana South Africa; Angry Robot)
  • The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, N.K. Jemisin (Orbit)
  • The Silent Land, Graham Joyce (Gollancz; Doubleday)
  • Under Heaven, Guy Gavriel Kay (Viking Canada; Roc; Harper Voyager UK)
  • Redemption In Indigo, Karen Lord (Small Beer)
  • Who Fears Death, Nnedi Okorafor (DAW)

Best Novella

  • Bone and Jewel Creatures, Elizabeth Bear (Subterranean)
  • The Broken Man, Michael Byers (PS)
  • “The Maiden Flight of McCauley’s Bellerophon”, Elizabeth Hand (Stories: All-New Tales)
  • The Thief of Broken Toys, Tim Lebbon (ChiZine Publications)
  • “The Mystery Knight”, George R.R. Martin (Warriors)
  • “The Lady Who Plucked Red Flowers beneath the Queen’s Window”, Rachel Swirsky (Subterranean Summer 2010)

Best Short Fiction

  • “Beautiful Men” , Christopher Fowler (Visitants: Stories of Fallen Angels and Heavenly Hosts)
  • “Booth’s Ghost”, Karen Joy Fowler (What I Didn’t See and Other Stories)
  • “Ponies”, Kij Johnson (Tor.com 11/17/10)
  • “Fossil-Figures”, Joyce Carol Oates (Stories: All-New Tales)
  • “Tu Sufrimiento Shall Protect Us”, Mercurio D. Rivera (Black Static 8-9/10)

Best Anthology

  • The Way of the Wizard, John Joseph Adams, ed. (Prime)
  • My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me, Kate Bernheimer, ed. (Penguin)
  • Haunted Legends, Ellen Datlow & Nick Mamatas, eds. (Tor)
  • Stories: All-New Tales, Neil Gaiman & Al Sarrantonio, eds. (Morrow; Headline Review)
  • Black Wings: New Tales of Lovecraftian Horror, S.T. Joshi, ed. (PS)
  • Swords & Dark Magic, Jonathan Strahan & Lou Anders, eds. (Eos)

Best Collection

  • What I Didn’t See and Other Stories, Karen Joy Fowler (Small Beer)
  • The Ammonite Violin & Others, Caitlín R. Kiernan (Subterranean)
  • Holiday, M. Rickert (Golden Gryphon)
  • Sourdough and Other Stories, Angela Slatter (Tartarus)
  • The Third Bear, Jeff VanderMeer (Tachyon)

Best Artist

  • Vincent Chong
  • Kinuko Y. Craft
  • Richard A. Kirk
  • John Picacio
  • Shaun Tan

Special Award, Professional

  • John Joseph Adams, for editing and anthologies
  • Lou Anders, for editing at Pyr
  • Marc Gascoigne, for Angry Robot
  • Stéphane Marsan & Alain Névant, for Bragelonne
  • Brett Alexander Savory & Sandra Kasturi, for ChiZine Publications

Special Award, Non-Professional

  • Stephen Jones, Michael Marshall Smith, & Amanda Foubister, for Brighton Shock!: The Souvenir Book Of The World Horror Convention 2010
  • Alisa Krasnostein, for Twelfth Planet Press
  • Matthew Kressel, for Sybil’s Garage and Senses Five Press
  • Charles Tan, for Bibliophile Stalker
  • Lavie Tidhar, for The World SF Blog

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

   

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