I promised myself I'd cut back on my outrage at humanity. After all, it's so easy to get outraged these days. In fact, everyone's doing it. Outrage seems to be the de facto normal state for people in today's world.
So I promised myself I'd let all that go. Simply focus on my fiction writing. Finish running this year's Million Writers Award.
But then I read Norman Spinrad's latest On Books column "Third World Worlds" in the April/May 2010 Asimov's. So many statements in this review made me want to throw the magazine across the room that, in the end, for my own sanity I had to rant.
For example, Spinrad says, "With the exception of the Japanese, I at least, am at a loss to point to any science fiction that I know of that has evolved independently in non-European languages or cultures disconnected there from."
Right off my head I can name a few: Juntree Siriboonrod, the "father of Thai science fiction." Or how about Rimi B. Chatterjee of India, or perhaps more well known in SF circles in the United States, Vandana Singh. Or, good grief, what about science fiction in China, where the most widely read SF magazine on the planet--Science Fiction World--is published.
Perhaps Spinrad would discount all this by saying these SF authors, and the cultures which produced them, didn't evolve independently. But in today's world, what culture is truly independent of each other?
Still, I might have avoided this rant if that was the only statement I screamed at. But there was more. For you see, Spinrad refers to Mike Resnick as follows:
So, for now at least, and in the apparent absence of a significant body of science fiction written by born and bred Africans, this Caucasian American is probably the closest thing there is or has been to an African science fiction writer, with the exception of Octavia Butler. Who did write the same sort of thing, and did it well, and was Black to boot, but I use that politically incorrect word rather than “African American” because aside from her genetic heritage she was no more African than Mike Resnick.
Now I like Mike Resnick as a person and love his writings (especially Santiago, one of my favorite SF novels). Resnick isn't responsible for what Spinrad wrote, and would probably laugh at that comment. But seriously. Is Spinrad saying Resnick is the closest there's ever been to an African SF writer. Excepting Octavia Butler, who Spinrad then dismisses as not "African" enough? But Resnick is?
Must. Control. My. Need. To. Scream. And. Rant!
Err, what about writers like Nnedi Okorafor? Doesn't she count? In fact, by a funny coincidence Okorafor recently wrote a fascinating essay titled "Is Africa Ready for Science Fiction?" where she gives some examples of African SF. All of this information could have been found with a simple Google search.
To Spinrad's credit, he admits he is ignorant of much of the world's literature, being limited to what is translated into English. And he is also specifically talking about science fiction, not the larger speculative fiction traditions which include fantasy and magic realism. But come on! The SF community had been talking about world science fiction for the last year, especially in light of Lavie Tidhar's excellent anthology The Apex Book of World SF (which, again, focuses on more than only science fiction) and Tidhar's related blog.
I don't have the patience tonight to dissect all that is wrong with Spinrad's column. Because I swear if I don't get off the computer right now it will be weeks before I can stop ranting.