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Apr 25 2012

We See a Different Frontier

Many of the themes of classic science fiction were colonial. Some were explicitly so, with new planets being settled by human pioneers and the kinks of first contact with sentient aliens being worked out–or not. Others were less straightforward, with minds and bodies falling under the control of…well, just about anything.

What was generally missing in these depictions, however:

Much widely distributed science fiction and fantasy is written by American and other Anglophone authors, and treats subjects close to the hearts of straight, white, English-speaking men. There’s nothing wrong with this sci-fi itself—we love lots of it—but there’s clearly something missing. Having white Anglo cis/hetero/males as (the only) role models is not an option any more. We aim to redress this balance, not only by publishing speculative stories by people with different viewpoints and addressing concerns from outside of the usual area (see World SF), but also by explicitly including fiction that addresses the profound socio-political issues around colonisation and colonialism (see Race in SF). We want to see political stories: not partisan-political, but writing that recognizes the implications for real people and cultures of the events and actions that make up science fictional or fantastic histories, as well as our own history.

For this anthology we will be looking for stories from the perspective of people and places that are colonized under regimes not of their choosing (in the past, present or even future). We are not primarily interested in war stories, although don’t completely rule them out. We are not interested in stories about a White Man learning the error of his ways; nor parables about alien contact in which the Humans are white anglos, and the Aliens are an analogue for other races. We want stories told from the viewpoint of colonized peoples, with characters who do not necessarily speak English, from authors who have experience of the world outside the First World.

This is a Peerbackers project, run by an experienced editing team. See an interview with one of the editors here.

This sort of project isn’t easy to sell to a publisher, but part of the point of Peerbackers is to take some of the risk out of what is generally considered a risky project. Considering that this project is nearly half covered a third of the way into its funding period, it probably isn’t as risky as the powers that be think. (This is true for a lot of projects that never get made because their target audience isn’t 18- to 34-year-old, white, etc. and on males.)

Some of my favorite science fiction from my childhood explored this point of view, so I’ve already ordered my copy. Go do the same if this appeals to you.

4 comments

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  1. 1
    Timid Atheist

    I would love to read stories like this. I attempted to donate, but the site won’t allow me to register. I sent in a request for help, so I hope they can help me. I really would like to see something like this get off the ground.

  2. 2
    'Tis Himself

    SF author Mike Resnick wrote the Chronicles of Distant Worlds series about colonization. Basically the three books are retellings of the history of three African colonies. Paradise is about Kenya), Purgatory is about Zimbabwe and Inferno is about Uganda. Resnick is a good writer, he knows Africa, and he’s sympathetic to his characters, even the ones who appear most evil.

  3. 3
    rq

    Back when I was in high school I had two anthologies of Canadian short speculative fiction (Northern Lights and Northern Suns, I think), which I liked primarily because they had different kinds of stories. Still a more or less First World view, but it was refreshing due to the inclusion of a lot of francophone authors and (if I remember correctly) a few native Canadian authors.
    More of these different perspectives would be amazing!

  4. 4
    sylvia

    have you read any books by Lois McMaster Bujold? Her protagonist is a space fleet admiral, like his mother, before she went into politics, and many of the powerful characters are female, and power definitely comes in different flavors – military, political, social, etc. The Old Girl’s Network does unexpected things, politically, in some books :)

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