…but I’m going to try to take up this blogging thing again now that school isn’t in the way as much. I’ve read a few international science fiction books and reviews will be forthcoming. Also, like many who have discovered the books thanks to HBO, I’m several books into the A Song of Ice and Fire series.
Let’s see how long this goes.
Ironically, constraining myself with categories and challenges will encourage me to read more. I’ve long been a fan of Russian literature and a couple forthcoming books for my International Science Fiction quest are from this part of the world.
Because I like methods to my madness, I’m not content to just say I’m going to read X number of books. So here I am announcing that I’m joining this challenge:
Twelve speculative fiction books in 12 months is definitely doable. Especially when the definition of “speculative” is broad enough to encompass a multitude of genres.
First off, let me say that I am a huge fan of io9. I read it every day, frequently link to it, and take its recommendations to heart. If it wasn’t for io9, I never would have found the criminally unknown masterpiece that is The Sparrow.
I also enjoyed their recent #scifi101 syllabus. For a week, they talked about classics of sci-fi in film, television, books, graphic novels and videogames. They also dissected frequently used tropes and principles of actual science that inform the genre. Overall, a wonderfully informing series that will thoroughly introduce you to science fiction works of art.
Or more accurately, American and UK science fiction works of art.
With few exceptions, almost every work featured was either by an American or a UK production. I am not doubting their artistic merit, or even the far reaching influence of the works chosen, even if I’m not a fan personally.* However, I’m fairly certain that great works (and even not so great but entertaining works) of speculative fiction have come from other countries. For instance, the dystopian literature section on the booklist for SciFi 101 feature the well known 1984 and Brave New World, but did not mention the Russian predecessor to both, We. And how is any scifi 101 list complete without a work by Jules Verne? These are two glaring omissions and I’m not even out of Europe yet.
Io9 later remedied this somewhat with a list of ten foreign Sci-Fi films, but has not made a list for TV shows or books from other countries. Hence, with the help of the GreenDragon group, I’m on a quest to find interesting genre books from not from America or the UK. Granted, it will not be easy as many of these books do not have English translations, and the ones that do are inevitably filtered through the translator’s interpretation.
The first few I have on the list are a mixed bag. One of the books, The Invention of Morel is a novella that’s apparently a Latin American classic** and if a college ever tought a class on Latin American science fiction, I guarantee this book would be in the list. Another one is The Last Wish, is a Polish urban fantasy novel written in 1993 and is the basis for a PC RPG.*** No point in literary snobbery now-my goal is to get as full a picture of how different nations approach genre fiction as possible considering the time and language barriers.
* I was only mildly interested in Doctor Who during Christopher Eccleston’s run and completely lost interest when David Tennant took over. Tennant annoyed me to no end, as did the overemphasis on how Rose was the most spectacular specialist girl ever. And I can’t bring myself to make the time to check out if Matt Smith’s Doctor is any better.
** The back cover of the New York Review of Books edition has a blurb by Octavio Paz, a claim that Jorge Louis Borges compared this favorable to a Henry James novel, and a comparison to Phillip K. Dick. In other words, quite the literary pedigree.
*** The Last Wish is less likely to on a college syllabus. Or rather, less likely to be on a literature syllabus and more likely on a “media and culture” type class.