Okay. So you know how SF has some deep colonial roots? Related to the conquest and exploration of strange worlds, the wackeries of the native people, and their eventual destruction? And that’s how we get stuff like Avatar
which is really Pocahontas?
updated for the 21st century?
So Long Been Dreaming: Postcolonial Science Fiction & Fantasy acknowledges that history and decenters it. This… makes me a very happy camper. It’s easy to see why this works — each of these stories challenges what it means to be colonized, to be alien, to be a person in ways that a lot of other SF/F (like Mistborn, Riven Kingdom, Obsidian Butterfly, Simmons’ Ilium/Olympos, etc) don’t even imagine is possible. I just finished the last story and I’m still processing how melancholy and yet how hopeful this collection is. The evocative stories contained here aren’t about resolution or answers. They’re about acknowledging the conundrum of intercultural conflict, the legacies of convoluted histories, and the process by which we make our bodies and our worlds our homes. There are aliens — there are lost colonies — there are explorers — but there’s also love, friendship, and an idealistic faith that we as a species can somehow muddle through and become… if not better, then at least kinder and more gentle.
I need to sit with this one for a while. Right now I’m thinking of transformative theory and powerful fiction. I’m in deep admiration for a cohort of authors who use their writing to explore their politics, who tap into the tropes that defined the genre of science fiction and combine them into something more than the sum of its parts. To engage in such a project requires a passion for the genre and a love of writing.
Celu Amberstone’s “Refugees” particularly intrigued me…. the text of the short story is at the link, so please check it out.