The OF Blog: Chiming in on non-Anglophone SF

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Chiming in on non-Anglophone SF

SF Signal has a great topic for their lately Mind Meld feature, titled "Guide to International SF/F (Part I)". Lots of great books (some of which I've read, others I've heard about) mentioned over there.

In a way, posts like this frustrate me, in no small part because I had in mind pitching a post about some excellent Spanish-language spec fic that I had recently recently, only to discover recent (and excellent) posts and sites, such as Lavie Tidhar's must-read World SF News Blog, have already covered much what I would have likely discussed in such a piece. Perhaps I'll go ahead and do it someday, but I think it'll be a while.

However, there are a few gaps that I noticed in the SF Signal piece (although I suspect much of this will be addressed in the second part). The first thing that I noticed is that quite a few of the authors being held up as examples of great authors writing in other languages are really just the various countries' "superstars" for said SFF markets. In other words, the Lems, Sapkowskis, and their like tend to be older, established writers. Very little was said in that piece (although this could be due to my professed ignorance about certain language/national markets) about the actual SF "scenes" that have developed (or are developing) recently in many parts of the world.

I don't know who've they've asked to participate in Part II of this Mind Meld, but I certainly hope that the SF Signal people have contacted Brazilian writer/professor/editor Fábio Fernandes. Over the past year, I have had the pleasure of getting to know Fábio and not only do I value his friendship, but I also value the work he has been doing in various venues, ranging from his Portuguese language blog to his English language one to his reviews over at Fantasy Book Critic. He, along with fellow Brazilians Jacques Barcia and Braulio Tavares, among several others (hopefully Fábio will see this post soon and add more, as I know there are several I'm leaving off simply because I don't have their blogs saved and have forgotten their names, to my shame), would have lots of interesting things to contribute about the Brazilian SF scene, the pressures to write and publish in English, and so forth.

A second area that was relatively neglected in that post were those fictions that here in the Anglo-American markets might be slapped with "slipstream" or "interstitial" labels. Works like those of Federico Fernández Giordano's 2008 Premio Minotauro-winning novel, El libro de Nobac, which mixes several SF tropes into a meta-mystery tale, or Xavier Velasco's 2003 Premio Alfaguara-winning Diablo guardián, which features a more hip, seductive Satan-like figure. If these works had been published in English, there might have been some arguments on blogs such as this one and others about if said books and several others might fall within one market categorization or another.

But these comments are not meant to be nitpickings, but rather to serve as a complement to the discussion brewing over at SF Signal and the World SF News Blog, among others.


Liviu said...

Mihir had an essay on Indian SFF and Fabio one about Brazilian SFF for us at FBC, while I and a collaborator plan one on Romanian SFF...

Fabio will also be the fiction editor of online Indian SFF magazine Kalkion since his story Ganesh, in the Afternoon seems to have been very appreciated there,intheafternoon

Lsrry said...

Right. I'll admit I left out part of that in hopes that Fábio would comment, perhaps with more info than what I know, but that is a very cool opportunity for him, to say the least.

As for Mihir, I've seen the name at FBC, but I don't know enough yet about him to really say much, although he certainly would have good things to add to this sort of discussion, no?

And if I don't link to those planned essays, feel free to drop me a line, as that's exactly the sort of thing I'd love to link to!

Cheryl said...

I gave Karen a whole pile of email addresses to follow up, but I was in email hell in New Zealand at the time so I might not have done the best of jobs. I know I gave her Roberto De Antuñano. Sylvie Miller and Lucas Moreno should also know a bit about new Spanish-language writers.

Mihai A. said...

Fabio is a great guy and a wonderful writer. His insights in Brazilian SF are inspiring. And although I cover only one Romanian title so far (due to a difficult schedule) I plan to cover others as well.
The SF Signal article is interesting and I am waiting the second part to see if they've got somebody from Romania ;) Anyway I think that there are many treasures all over the world that didn't come in English. I also believe that it will be wonderful someday for the speculative fiction to expend its boundaries and bring these novels in English too. And maybe not only the speculative fiction :)

Liviu said...

Actually (and to my surprise to some extent) Mihir's Indian SFF piece was extremely popular - all these are linked on the first page of FBC in the essay index so it's easy to get to them for everyone, no need to over-link so to speak.

Since Mihir is originally from India I asked him to do that post if he felt in the mood and he delivered a very good perspective from what I understand.

I would love to do a Romanian sff post but I need Mihai above for the current scene since I am out of touch 20 years here and all - I can talk a lot about the older more fantastical literature rather than genre a la Eliade

A post on soviet sf would be also interesting imho and I am thinking of it since I read quite a lot of it (Belyaev, Strugatsky brothers, Andromeda by Yefremov - that was a famous soviet novel and quite enjoyable for the barren years of the time) and as Adam Roberts wonderful YBT shows there were quite a few soviet sf writers though their fortunes ebbed and flowed with the party line

Ausir said...

As for sf from post-Soviet countries, there will be responses from Russian and Ukrainian writers.

Lsrry said...

Thanks for the news, everyone! Sorry that I've been mostly away these past few days, as my job and my sleeping are much more important to me than blogging. Am waiting eagerly for the next installment, needless to say.

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