Saturday, May 17, 2014

People of color moving white, spec-lit world. Writing opp

My post last week about Project Hieroglyph and People of Color (PoC) is one more nail in the coffin (okay, maybe just a tiny tack) of privileged publishing of speculative lit exclusion of U..S. minorities. [Spec = sci-fi, fantasy, magical realism, horror, fables]. Members of Hieroglyph decided to answer in detail the questions I posed. I did mean to stir the waters, but not for my individual benefit. For the purpose of helping break down the cement ceilings in U.S. publishing, cracking under their own exclusivity. I'll post their response when it comes in. Or join Hieroglyph and add to their discussion.

PoC seem to be a hot topic, especially in spec lit. Rumors circulate about an East Coast anthology written by diverse authors. Also, the 2015 Spokan, Washington, WorldCon is named Sasquan, which should open up possibilities to Native American writers. Since the 2013 WorldCon in San Antonio included a dozen "Spanish" workshops, Sasquan would do well to build on its progressive moves to attract a more diversified attendance, especially from the black and latino writers concentrated in Calif.

However, it's not simply that dark people are trendy. Opening the U.S. publishing doors to PoC would definitely inject perspectives and worldviews into genres that some, like Hieroglyph, believe have become overly pessimistic, gloom-and-doom, robbing spec lit of vitality, instead of portraying futures of many possibilities, and Hope. YA lit is not the only genre thirsting for that.

As a former student and instructor of Clarion West describes it: "I am all for utopian visions of the future. We ARE the future. As children and grandchildren of immigrants and those who have worked the land, survived great hardships, and learned not to rely on the dominant society, Latinos are ideally positioned to inherit the earth, deal with cultures that differ greatly from our own, and take innovative approaches to high tech, low tech, and all the little techs in between. - Kathleen Alcalá

What she expressed about Latinos, applies as well to other PoC. We should not just see what develops. We should move to develop it. Join in where and as you can and bring along your bro's or amigos, including the progressive white ones.

Here's Ernesto Hogan's take: "This all keeps giving me flashbacks to the beginning of my career thirty years ago. You should let Hieroglyph know there are a number of diversity-oriented movements (postcolonialism, Afrofuturism, Latinonautica . . .) going on right now, in fact it seems to be the coming thing. The new generation, no matter of what ethnic group or where they live, sees technology as part of their natural environment, rather than a tool the oppressors are using to keep them down. And our Cultura tends to be anti-dystopian, pleasure-generating--we've won themover with our music, food and art in the past and present; this will continue. Maybe we can not only save science fiction from it's own stereotypes, but literature from being a means of expressing clinical depression. I better stop before I this becomes a silly manifesto."

I didn't think any of this was "silly."

Diverse stories wanted for Weird Western Antho

Another example of PoC-generated activity in the spec lit world came from a lively Facebook discussion this week. Cynthia Ward began with, "I would be curious to see a Weird Western anthology that didn't feature mostly white male writers." Over 130 posts later, she initiated a possibly breakthrough anthology. So, if you're not in it for the money, consider sending, or writing, your Weird Western short story, soon.
Yeah, Cynthia's white, but knows it. That won't satisfy Sherman Alexie, but she has at least one story in Indian SF.

What's Weird Western? - A literary sub-genre that combines elements of the Western with another literary genre, usually horroroccult, or fantasy. Steampunk has been added, SF could maybe get in.

Cynthia explains, "I want to put out this anthology with Native American contributors. Mexican, Chicano, Nuevo Mexicano, Californio, and other Latino/Latina/Hispanic perspectives are not only wanted, but necessary. I'm defining multi-cultural inclusively, not that a story featuring nothing but straight white cis-gender men is going to get in. I hope the anthology will prove worthy of the interest it has generated and hope it proves worthy of interest, attention, and excitement."

Initial guidelines: diverse authors/characters/viewpoints/perspectives [not the usual straight, white, able-bodied cis cowboys/ranchers/pioneers/etc]; approx 1k - 10k words; reprints preferred; pays $5/story + royalties; published by WolfSinger Publications. One story submission at a time, in DOC or RTF; time period(s) should be 1600s CE-1910s CE, although earlier time periods will be considered.
Setting(s) should be primarily in the US/Territories west of the Mississippi, northern Mexico, and/or in western Canada). E-mail for questions and submissions.

Cynthia Ward on her credentials for editing a multi-ethnic antho: "I'm a straight white/Anglo cis woman, which may be an element some writers will weigh when considering whether to submit a story. Also, I'm OK with people sharing considerations I should bear in mind as editor, given my various privileged statuses and the fact that, although I was born in Oklahoma and lived in the West for nearly all my adult life (since 1983), I'm not a life-long resident."

As author of this post, I'll say that until we have many PoC editors with the publishing resources and connections, Anglo editors progressive enough to publish us will be an avenue we might want to take advantage of. I'm going to attempt that.

If you have questions, you can contact Cynthia at or check her lit credentials.

Rushdie on Márquez

Speaking of PoC having unique perspectives, you'll probably enjoy Salman Rushdie's piece on Gabriel García Márquez, Magic in Service of Truth, where he re-examines magical realism. Two excerpts, but the entire piece is enlightening.

"In the Macondo of Gabriel García Márquez, imagination is used to enrich reality, not to escape from it."

"No writer in the world has had a comparable impact in the last half-century. [Márquez] was the greatest of us all."

Naia - one scientist discovers her male whiteness
BUT, white-male-dominated perspectives continue, with one scientist

A 12,000-year-old female skeleton found in Yucatan (that's in dark-peopled Mexico, scientists) was named Naia, but in describing HER, one scientist said SHE, a Native American, resembled the actor Patrick Stewart, a white male, who's not even indio or mexicano. Really?

Es todo, hoy,
RudyG, aka Rudy Ch. Garcia, author of the Chicano, alternate-world fantasy, The Closet of Discarded Dreams

EXTRA! - Hieroglyph posted responses to last week's questions.

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