The third in our interview series with Apex Book of World SF contributors, conducted by Charles Tan and published over at SF Signal. Today’s interview is with Dutch writer and editor Jetse de Vries:
I’ve been an avid traveller almost all of my adult life, and I enjoy exploring exotic (well, exotic to me) places. Also, while I do read and write SF mostly in English, I do wish that it would feature more non-western viewpoints. Obviously there are several examples of that (Geoff Ryman’s Air, Ian McDonald’s River of Gods and Brasyl, and Ashok Banker’s and Vandana Singh’s stories immediately come to mind, and I’m sure I’m overlooking many other examples), but not quite as much as I would like to see.
As I try to lead by example with Shine, I decided that I not only wanted near-future, optimistic SF in it, but that I would greatly prefer that the stories would have settings, characters and viewpoints from all over the world (not just from a western and/or Anglophone PoV) as well. So I set up the “Optimism in Literature Around the World, and SF in particular” feature to raise awareness about non-western fiction, and to hopefully attract writers from outside the western world to submit (or inspire western writers to write about non-western places and/or characters). For the same reason, three of my four ‘Crazy Story Ideas‘ are also set outside the Anglophone world.
I am also very well aware that there have been fierce discussions in the speculative online community about–let’s say–people from culture A trying to write about people from culture B. When ‘writing the other’, an author has a much larger chance of getting things wrong, no matter how thorough the preceding research. That doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be done: if writers would only write about ‘what they know’, then nobody would get in touch with other cultures and we all would be all the poorer for it. So while it’s fraught with great risks, it still has to be done, especially in SF. While it’s normal for SF to explore aliens in space, it is very reluctant in exploring the aliens on our own planet. That should change. – read the rest of the interview.