Science Fiction & Fantasy

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Book Reviews: June 2016

This month, Sunil Patel reviews novels by POC writers: Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge by Paul Krueger, United States of Japan by Peter Tieryas, Infomocracy by Malka Older, and The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Terence Taylor

We communicate almost continuously in smaller and smaller bursts, email chains, Facebook, texting, Twitter—a trend ultimately expressed in Instagram, where we reduce what we have to say to a single image. The adage that a picture tells a thousand words has become literally literal in that and emoticons. Because of that constant interchange, I know more about what’s going on with more of my friends who live over a greater distance than ever before. But I see them less than ever.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Sofia Samatar

Childhood is a wellspring for a lot of writers, I think, a place of intense feelings and clarity of vision. And of course those are also the reasons we need art—to experience powerful emotions and to see things in a new way. A kid’s perspective is great for that. When you write a young voice, you remember how it was to be utterly, stupidly passionate about things, and to perceive the injustices we often learn to close our eyes to later. Kids are not fooled when we try to cover up inequality.

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Doing Dhalgren

Dhalgren takes root and blossoms in the mind of the reader. It plants so many ideas that it takes time for some to become recognizable. I suspect that each time I read it, the novel could reveal something new, but after this reading I feel what Delany says is that a writer must abandon traditional roads to find his or her voice, and to seek literary freedom and success by entering unknown territory unafraid.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: John Chu

Shelly evolved as I wrote. At the start, I knew that she was a Chinese-American girl. Despite the speculative element, I wanted the story to take place in more or less the present. Given that I wanted to write a figure skating story, that meant the mother had to be this huge Michelle Kwan fan. It’s hard to overestimate the impact Michelle Kwan had on Chinese-Americans of a certain age. Everything else about Shelly more or less fell out of that.

Editorial

The People of Colo(u)r Destroy Science Fiction! Manifesto

I have no mouth, and I must scream, proclaims the title of Harlan Ellison’s classic work of science fiction. Like most “classic” works of science fiction, it was written by a white man. For centuries, white voices have been boosted, have been heard more than those of POC (a muddled term, to be sure, but one that facilitates a necessary discussion). It’s been their mouths doing the screaming.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Nick T. Chan

I’d like a diverse list of voices taking speculative fiction in all kinds of directions. Any community needs the constant influx of new ideas and new perspectives in order to remain vital and healthy. Although there’s chaos and displacement involved with new voices, a mature community is enriched by them. Personally, I’d like to see writers from cultures I don’t know very well. From an Australian perspective, indigenous writers are underrepresented in speculative fiction.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Karin Lowachee

I just struck on this idea, after seeing reports on VA hospitals and being aware of the issues surrounding the government’s responsibility for returned veterans, that if in the future we created androids to fight in our wars—what would happen to them after? I didn’t want to make the government the Big Bad necessarily—even if they might struggle with how to deal with their decisions and are in some way always catching up to the fallout. I wanted to think that the government would at least try to help their wounded warriors—whether human or android.

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Interview: Charlie Jane Anders

Our guest today is Charlie Jane Anders, editor-in-chief of io9, the internet’s most popular science fiction website. She also won a Hugo award in 2012 for her story “Six Months, Three Days.” We’ll be speaking with her today about her first fantasy novel, All the Birds in the Sky, about two friends who find themselves on opposite sides of a war between witches and mad scientists.

Author Spotlight