Wednesday Editorial: Looking Back on 2009, by Lavie Tidhar

Editorial: Looking Back on 2009

Lavie Tidhar

I started the World SF News Blog in February this year, on Livejournal; in many ways, it was intended to be a companion of sorts for The Apex Book of World SF. It has quickly evolved beyond that, though, and in October I made the decision to move it to a better hosting platform – wordpress – and expand the remit of the blog to include original content.

So, less than a year old, and still very much growing – I hope. I am very happy about the move in October. The blog as it currently is would not have been possible without, first and foremost, Charles Tan coming on board – Charles continues to provide the majority of our interviews and much more besides. Anil Menon has been an early supporter, with many good suggestions along the way. I am incredibly thankful to the whole community of writers and fans who have contributed material over the past three months – Guy Hasson, Kaaron Warren, Aliette de Bodard, Nuno Fonseca, Mihai Adascalitei, Nick Wood and others. You can see all of our original content here, and editorials here.

Right now, we aim to publish one original feature every Monday (an interview, review, essay, round table or other material) and one editorial most Wednesdays. Editorials are open to anyone – drop us a line if you’d like to contribute.

Our most popular feature by far this year has been the Ashok Banker interview (no longer available), but we’ve been getting a lot of interest (and the occasional lively debate) in a couple of the editorials (Where is the World in the World Fantasy Awards? and Don’t Shut Up!), in our Australian SF Round Table and in the feature on SF in South Africa. Our 2009 summaries for some of the short fiction magazines have also proven very popular.

We’ve covered a lot of ground in 2009. I am particularly proud of our coverage of Arabic SF and of African SF, and hope to feature a lot more next year.

This is the end of the year in the Gregorian calendar. Chinese new year isn’t for another two months, Lao/Thai new year for three, and Jewish new year for nine. But the Gregorian is the internationally-accepted civil calendar, so we’ll follow it for this purpose…

Just an English is the most prevalent “contact language” between multilingual people. Which brings me to the “purpose” of this blog. There seems to be an idea floating around of “world sf” being some sort of movement, which I find patently ridiculous. Perhaps it is a “sub-genre” of science fiction? Just as I find it silly to think this blog has any particular political agenda. All this blog aims to do is to share – with whoever wants to – some of the incredible diversity, joy, and sense-of-wonder that can be found around the world. Will American or British publishers suddenly exclaim – oho! We must publish more Chinese SF? – unlikely. Today, a headline such as “American publisher to release French SF novel” is noteworthy – a “man bites dog”. The reverse – “French publisher to release American SF novel” – is everyday – a “dog bites dog” headline. My point is, this blog is not meant as a sort of “missionary” outreach device to the monoligual masses of English. Indeed, one of the things I am most excited about that came as a result of this blog and the anthology is the planned new Portuguese magazine Dagon, which is promising to release international SF stories (some drawn from the anthology) in Portugal. Similar cross-fertilization is happening elsewhere, and I love the idea that the world of SF is being expanded across the globe, for readers in a multitude of languages.

And yet, things have been quite exciting on the English-language front, too. In 2009 we saw, on the American side, the rise of Haikasoru, the new imprint of Japanese SF in English translations, a new translation award that should come into effect next year, a special world sf issue of Words Without Borders and, on my own part, the release of both The Apex Book of World SF and the special world sf issue of Apex Magazine. And this blog, of course. French and Polish fantasy novels are being translated into English. We’ve seen a number of world sf writers published in high-profile magazines – from the New Yorker to Strange Horizons, and others signing book deals for English-language novels, such as Aliette de Bodard or Hannu Rajaniemi (or, indeed, myself).

I hope you discover, through the links and discussions on this blog, some of the wonderful surprises hiding in that great myriad world that is world sf. There are some great writers out there, and some great stories, and there are, as always, a lot of things still to talk about, and debate, and argue over. As the late, great Kurt Vonnegut once said about science fiction fans:

They are joiners. They are a lodge. If they didn’t enjoy having a gang of their own so much, there would be no such category as science-fiction. They love to stay up all night, arguing the question, “What is science-fiction?”

And long may it be so.


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