Category: links

Links aka Aliette on the web

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Briefly emerging from my winter sleep, aka “full-time care of the snakelet while holding a day job and writing a novel/novella ™”, to point out a couple of places I’ve been this week:
-Roundtable on fantastical creatures at The Book Smugglers, with Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Shveta Thakrar, Octavia Cade, Marie Brennan, Whiti Hereaka, Rochita Loenen-Ruiz, E.C. Myers, Benjanun Sriduangkaew, Bogi Takács, Joyce Chng and me: part 1, part 2. I talk dragons (rồng) and turtles (rủa) in myths!
-My Beneath Ceaseless Skies Aztec steampunk story “Memories in Bronze, Feathers and Blood” is re-released as part of the Audio Vault, with a new introduction by me on the genesis and worldbuilding of the story: listen here.
-Still at Beneath Ceaseless Skies, the new issue, available at Weightless Books and Amazon, contains my colonial Indochina fantasy “The Moon over Red Trees”, as well as fiction by Richard Parks, K.J Parker (OMG I’m sharing a TOC with K.J. Parker!), and Gwendolyn Clare

Roundtable: Food in SF

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Roundtable: Food in SF

Another of my January project has gone live at Tor.com: a roundtable on The Food of the Future, with Ann Leckie, Elizabeth Bear, Rochita Loenen-Ruiz, Benjanun Sriduangkaew, and Fran Wilde. Check it out here.

Thanks to everyone who took part–it was a lot of fun, and especially many many thanks to Fran Wilde for masterminding it and sending me pointed reminders about fixing and submitting it in what has been a rather overwhelming month (well, OK. Lately all months have been overwhelming).

Chie and Weng interview Benjanun Sriduangkaew

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-The awesome Rochita Loenen-Ruiz and her sister interview Benjanun Sriduankaew:

I think of short stories as presenting a question, even if it’s something as simple as ‘how will the characters get what they want?’  It’s my hope that readers will be engaged by that question even if the story isn’t presenting a direct answer – so that’s what I hope they take away: a question. But I also hope to excite a sense of wonder and a sympathetic interest, when possible.

Read more here (and fully concur with the reminder that Benjanun’s eligible for a well-deserved Campbell Award for Best New Writer next year at Loncon3!)

Linky linky

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-Damien G Walter very kindly names me as one of 20 most promising young novelists in this Guardian article. The company is kind of… impressive, to say the least.

-Over at The Shake, Zucchini Bikini reviews On a Red Station, Drifting::

All in all, I highly recommend this book, both for itself and for what is represents – a different way of writing hard sci fi, a way that includes and magnifies stories and pasts that haven’t been represented well in this genre before.

-Calvin N. Ho on “The Stigma of Immigrant Languages” (a phenomenon I would hazard is not limited to the US).

Linky linky

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Of the selfish variety…

-Ian Mond reviews the Nebula-nominated novellas, which includes On a Red Station, Drifting

More then just being an insight into a culture and tradition that I know bugger all about, Red Station is written with a delicate intensity. It’s not an easy read, because the novella doesn’t provide us with a set of sympathetic characters that we can cheer on. Rather, through some gorgeous writing and the complexity of the world building, each character earns our respect. And that makes the ending all the more powerful.

-MJ Starling on On a Red Station, Drifting

(…) a great, harsh, messy, human book that deserves every vote it gets.

Linky linky

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-Strange Horizons (Luc Reid) interviews Ken Liu

Many of my stories deal with the invisible bounds imposed on us by the legacy of history: colonialism, war, mass killings, power imbalances between different parts of the world and between different populations sharing the same space. These bounds infuse everything we experience and affect the fates of nations, peoples, families, and individuals. History is not just vast armies clashing on dark plains at night, but lived through by real men and women related to us. It is deeply personal.

In the West, I have detected a tendency to dismiss or minimize the effects of history on the present, as if history can be made irrelevant by a simple act of individual will. Such views, it seems to me, are signs of a perspective colored by the very privileges conferred on those who have been dealt a lucky hand by history.

-Sophia McDougall on Twenty-One tips to make your book better for new writers

-Glen Mehn reviews On a Red Station, Drifting

this novella would stand out in any crowded field: Complicated, layered, internal and external conflict work, here, and de Bodard delivers. As usual. Not that I’m jealous.

On loss of language, colonisation and migration

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Two great articles, courtesy of automathic:
-Juliana Qian writes about being of Chinese descent in Australia. A lot of it is either uncomfortably familiar experience and/or strikes home quite accurately:

Our cultures are exotic, fashionable, fascinating and valuable when contained within or filtered through a white Western lens – then our cultures are glittering mines. But drawing from your own background is backward and predictable if you’re a person of colour. Sometimes white people try to sell me back my culture and I have to buy it. My China is as much the BBC version as it is the PRC one. There are things I want to eat but cannot cook.

-Rahel Aima on vernacular English:

Embedded within non-western English lies a parallel tension. The vernacular promises all the seductive freshness of exoticised difference, as well as the inherited anger of the Postcolonial Clever—the comfortably removed expat with a knowing gaze. There’s a certain expectation of kitsch, discernible authenticity and legitimacy, or at the very least, something to appropriate, please yaar? Or—something to awkwardly skirt out of respect to cultural relativism and because we are ostensibly beyond the myth of native English. Except then there’s also the orientalised yet unacknowledged elephant in the room: that the diasporic writer just might be the new bedfellow of cultural imperialism.

Links on Worldbuilding and patchworks

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-Tricia Sullivan on “Some Thoughts on SFF and Reality Checks”. As Tricia says: what if authors, through shiny worldbuilding, erase someone else’s reality? What if the Vietnam War becomes replaced by a stream of good American soldiers fighting the evil communists? (or the reverse. Not really saying one is better than the other)
-On the same subject, Marie Brennan has a series of posts on Information Density and whether it is possible to educate the reader away from what they know while keeping a narrative going at full clip: here and here

I guess that, for me, it all boils down to: worldbuilding doesn’t happen in a vacuum. You have obligations not only to produce something cool and shiny to keep your reader entertained–but since your narration will affect other people who read it and shape their idea of the world/the history, you also have an obligation not to distort what you take from, as much as is humanely possible (and “not distorting” can get tricky).

Current mood: thoughtful.

ETA: have edited the post following some hard thinking

Brief update, links

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OK, now that I’m almost over the line with the proposal (improvised 2 sequels yesterday, lol), time to lift the blogging hiatus! First off, some shameless plugging links:
-Lovely story by Tori Truslow, “A Catalogue of Unreadable Things”. All I’m going to say is that it takes place in a library of sunken books and mixes sailors and librarians. Doesn’t get much cooler than this!
-You can find me over at the Founding Fields blogging on writing non-Western fantasy, cultural appropriation and the Obsidian and Blood books–many thanks to Abhinav Jain for the invitation (and for the rather awesome review).
-Also, I’m at Mary Robinette Kowal’s blog for “My Favourite Bit”, in which I talk about the monsters in Obsidian and Blood
-Reviews of “Immersion” at too many places to mention (and, hum, I haven’t been keeping track of all of them while I was fighting with my synopsis), but can I jump up and down at having been mentioned by io9 as worthy of Dangerous Visions? Also this one by Bogi Takács, basically thinking it award-worthy. Wow wow wow. Also, lively discussion on imperialism, cultural oppression and standards of beauty happening in the story comments if you’re so inclined.

Presenting the Cultural Imperialism Bingo Card

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And… here’s the unveiling ceremony of the project that’s been keeping a bunch of us busy, aka the Cultural Imperialism Bingo Card. With many thanks to everyone involved, who were quite willing to jump through a lot of hoops (some of them last minute!).


If you think colonialism is dead… think again. Globalisation has indeed made the world smaller–furthering the dominance of the West over the developing world, shrinking and devaluing local cultures, and uniformising everything to Western values and Western ways of life. This is a pernicious, omnipresent state of things that leads to the same unfounded things being said, over and over, to people from developing countries and/or on developing countries.

It’s time for this to stop. Time for the hoary, horrid misrepresentation clichés to be pointed out and examined; and for genuine, non-dismissive conversations to start.

Accordingly, here’s a handy bingo card for Western Cultural Imperialism–and we wish we could say we’ve made it all up, but unfortunately every single comment on this card was seen on the Internet.

Card designed by Aliette de Bodard, Joyce Chng, Kate Elliott, Rochita Loenen-Ruiz, @requireshate, Charles Tan, @automathic and @mizHalle. Launch orchestrated with the help of Zen Cho and Ekaterina Sedia in addition to above authors (and an army of willing signal boosters whom we wish to thank very much!)

Would very much appreciate signal boosting of any kinds (reposts, links, RTs, …). Thanks in advance!