Some linkage…


Mostly around the Spinrad article for Asimov’s, which is a bit like watching a trainwreck in progress. (he tries to make a bunch of good points, but they get lost in some poor phrasing and some appalling ideas)
The original article (incidentally, in the morass of stuff that made me want to hit something, there was the bit where he gushed about the Maya novel and its rigorous research–said research including choice bits like “Ancient Mayan codices [predicting] the end of the world in our era on a very specific date shortly approaching”. Er, no, sorry? That’s Christian Apocalypse eschatology getting mixed with the Maya calendar)
-Some back-and-forth going on on Jason Sanford’s blog
Cheryl Morgan about translation markets and the isolationist nature of the US book market
Nick Mamatas on the stuff Spinrad gets woefully wrong
-The awesome Charles A. Tan nails a lot of what I thought about the article in his editorial for the World SF blog (also, very nice stuff about mixed heritages/cultures, which I haven’t seen that often online).

I could rant, but honestly I feel the article and the comments are self-explanatory; and I’m reassured so many people are seeing it as problematic rather than taking it as gospel. I could dissect the article point by point (and believe me, there would be a lot of points to make, but I like my blood pressure the way it i. I think instead I’m going to go back to that article I was writing about Anglophone SF vs the rest of the world…


  1. I have grown exhausted of trying to explain the Mayan thing to people, so from now on I will just say: yeah, sure, the world is ending in 2012. Give me $100 and I will spare you using my awesome indigenous powers.

    (Will not be purchasing Mexica as Amazon lists Moctezuma’s name as Montezuma. Eh … no!)

  2. You could make good money that way…
    (I’ll not be purchasing Mexica either, but that’s mostly because of the Asimov’s article I read with my blood pressure steadily going up. Is the blurb the place where you’re having the spelling problem? Because that seems to me to be written from the point of view of the Spanish guy, who I presume would have internalised it as “Montezuma”. I have more problems with the fact they spelled “Popocatepetl” wrong…)

  3. I think it was in the blurb, yep. I just have a long hate towards that spelling. It is visceral. But the most compelling reason for me not to buy it is that I’m tired of seeing Spanish/foreign POVs whenever Mesoamerican cultures are found in the bookstore. I have read a bunch of them, so I’m just ried of it (the same way I’m tired of seeing Anne Boleyn portrayed as a bitch in every Tudor fiction book I pick up. It gets repetitive and doesn’t compel me to buy it).

    Your Servant of the Underworld is an anomaly! Meant in a good way.

  4. Aw, thanks!
    One of the reasons I stopped reading books set in Mesoamerica, to be honest, is that they were so Conquest-centred: a lot of them are in the Spanish point of view, and those that make an effort to do it from the point of view of a native tend to finish when the Spanish arrive and destroy everything. I guess what I missed most was a sense of a culture that just… existed, rather than being a poster child for the impermanence of things. (plus, I hate reading depressing boks that make me want to hit something, and every time the conquistadores arrive, I feel very aggressive. They are exceptions, but the majority of them are such uncouth and intolerant brutes…)

  5. On his specific point of African SF writers, I’m not the first person to say that Doris Lessing has a claim to be an African writer who has certainly written SF (amongst many other things) – and been a Worldcon GoH as well. I don’t know her citizenship (British I guess) but she didn’t set foot in England until she was thirty and spent almost all of her life up to then in what was then called Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe).

  6. Yep, definitely. Lauren Beukes, too (who still lives in South Africa). But I got the feeling that this was also partly about race (which is a different thing from nationality), ie Africa=black because of African-Americans. Not sure. I might be reading too much into this.

  7. Great post, I would suggest that you make it a bit handier to bookmark this to some social media sites, throw up a big add to twitter button or something in a few places that are obvious. No sense in making it too much work to add your stuff. Also, I really like your comment layout here, is it the default setup for your theme or did you customize it?

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