The OF Blog: Non Anglo-American SF/Fantasy

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Non Anglo-American SF/Fantasy

I finished reading Adam Roberts' The History of Science Fiction last night. While a review will have to wait until after I get the first draft of my dual review for SH complete (tomorrow or Friday afternoon at the latest, I hope), I was left with a nagging question that I've had whenever I've read similar works recently:

What about the speculative literatures that have been produced outside the US, the UK, Canada, and the ANZAC countries?

I cannot help but to wonder how these fantasies and SF tales are similar and how they differ from the dominant Anglo-American strain. I'm slightly-to-somewhat familiar with Latin American forms (and for the sake of a discussion another time, I'm going to leave out "magic realism" from this particular musing, although I certainly plan on addressing it at a future date). I read Cosmos Latinos about four years ago and one of the things I remember existing as a common thread through many of those tales that hasn't appeared as often in Anglo-American tales is the sense of exploitation, of forces beyond one's ken that can corrupt and alter against one society's will or desire (or often, with the complicit cooperation of elements of those societies).

But I want more. I am curious about those who've read outside Anglo-American spheres, perhaps those who live in countries with nascent or differently-evolved SF/Fantasy communities. I wonder what their societies have produced and if the questions raised by their authors differ much, if at all, from mine. If any know of any sites where said literature is mentioned/discussed, even if it's not in English (I can understand most Romance languages to some degree, with Germanic and Slavic being much more difficult for me), please point me to it. I'd love to explore those works, if possible, in their original languages or in English translation wherever available.

17 comments:

Jen said...

I'm not very good at discussing theory, so I don't know what to say, I've never noticed a big difference between Romanian and Anglo-Saxon SF, but there's a short novel I liked that's on its way to getting translated into English, so I'll let you know when that happens.

And a couple of short stories here: http://www.nautilus.nemira.ro/category/english-page/ I haven't read them (except for one, which I mostly forgot), but Robert Coller is a friend of mine and I usually love his brand of fantasy.

Anonymous said...

(but those are not discussions, unfortunately, just short stories.)

Jen said...

And I am a retard and can't input my name :P

Larry said...

I'll look into those after I sleep and do a few chores. Thanks!

Dark Wolf said...

Jen which novel is it?
I know that is a fantasy novel written by one of the contributors to nautilus e-zine, Liviu Radu. The novel is called "Waldemar" (I have it but I didn't get the chance to read it).

Anonymous said...

Sorry I'm not adding much to the discusion but does anyone have any reccomendations for non anglo-amercian fantasy?

I'm especially looking for something set in the Middle East.

Fábio said...

Larry, there aren´t many relevant Brazilian SF works, although in the last 25 years this situation started to change due to fanzines, and now to webzines. For most of that time all we had to offer was anthologies (at least most of them were original stories´s anthologies), but the first "massive" wave of SF novels is starting to build right now (if you can call "massive" a numer in the order of a dozen books in 4 years). I would recommend to you, however, "A Espinha Dorsal da Memória", by Braulio Tavares, one of the best single author anthos I´ve ever read in Brazil. The interesting thing: he was first published in Portugal, where he won a prize, and it took him almost ten years to be published in Brazil.

Liviu said...

In my childhood I read tons of soviet sf from Belyaev of the 30's to later works like something with Andromeda and an interstellar space ship from the 50's and even more recent sf, still communist and they were very, very similar to the golden age triumphalism US sf, just that socialism/communism was the dominant or winning ideology, but otherwise, colonization of space, and so on...

There were some darker works, with hidden meaning and those may be more of at least historical interest today, but the run of the mill sf was as above.

Similar with the spy novels as mentioned in another thread...

Mike said...

Since I'm currently addicted to playing the video game STALKER I feel obligated to mention Strugatsky's Roadside Picnic. I haven't read it myself and I might be hard to acquire in the states.

Larry said...

I've heard of him and have wanted to try his works, but I don't know if it's available in English. Perhaps if it's available in Spanish translation, I can read it, just as I read one of Polish author Andrzej Sapkowksi's books.

Gonzalo B said...

Not much into SF but I just finished Mystes by the Spaniard Víctor Conde this morning. The story was not that enthralling – but, as I said, I’m not a big SF reader – but his prose and command of the language is impressive. As for Latin American SF, I’d heartily recommend the Chilean writer Hugo Correa, especially his novel Los Altísimos. Here’s a link to the last interview he ever gave:

http://www.puerto-de-escape.cl/01/02/03_corre_entre.htm

Larry said...

Thanks! I'm quite curious about Chilean authors in particular right now, as I'm enjoying Bolaño's 2666 quite a bit and I've enjoyed reading Fuguet as well.

Liviu said...

Roadside Picnic is available for free online in several translations. There is even a parallel Russian English version. Links are on the Wiki site below. I remember when I read it maybe 25 years ago I was impressed and even today it's worth trying it. The movie inspired by it is a masterpiece, much better than the short novel itself



http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roadside_Picnic

Larry said...

Thanks! I'll look into it in a bit.

P.S. Seems that SFF World is down, or else I'd have responded to your PM by now.

Gonzalo B said...

Edmundo Paz Soldán recently said that the best SF in Spanish language was being poduced in Chile. Correa is a classic but one of the new SF authors I've heard a lot about is Jorge Baradit. I haven't read him myself but Ygdrasil is his debut novel.

As for Chilean authors, I recommend José Donoso. El Jardín de al Lado and El Obsceno Pájaro de la Noche are my favorites. Newer authors who have been garnering a lot of good press are Alejandro Zambra, Alvaro Bisama (both part of the Bogotá 39 list of new Latin American authors) and Germán Marín.

Larry said...

Thanks, Gonzalo. I'll add those to my list of authors to investigate shortly :D

Ellestra said...

We had very similar problem in Poland - for a while all there was on the market was translations from English. Then Polish authors and fandom (which is pretty much the same thing :P) got pissed, started their own publishing companies and started to publish Polish authors and non-English translations (mostly Russian but also German, Checz and Spanish).
There are lots Polish authors who are among my favourites and you only get Sapkowski because of The Witcher game. Dukaj was close to bing published in English after the Oscar nomination but no luck for you - and he is probably the most imaginative author alive.

The Russian sff market is very prolific. There's lots of interesting authors there but I think all you can get in English is Lukyanienko (or however you spell his name), thanks to movies.
There's long tradition of ssf in Russia Strugatskys brothers (they wrote all they books together till Arkady died) are classics. As is Kir Bulychev (I think he was also published in English but long time ago) - I love the Great Guslar stories and Alice was the hero of my childhood.

Too bad translating is too much work for your publishers - people from different background and languages make for more variety.

 
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