Caribbean Speculative Literature

Today I was immensely flattered to find myself quoted in Spanish and in French:

Podríamos citar las palabras del escritor barbadense Karen Lord al describir “el Caribe (como) una hermosa paradoja; insular y cosmopolita, antigua y moderna, radical y conservadora, hospitalaria e implacable”

Nous pourrions reprendre les termes de l’écrivain Bajan Karen Lord pour décrire « la Caraïbe [comme] un magnifique paradoxe : insulaire et cosmopolite, ancienne et moderne, radicale et conservatrice, accommodante et refusant le pardon »

It’s not just being quoted; it’s being quoted in other languages that I find particularly cool!

I went back to the original article by Robert Edison Sandiford, and what I said was in response to a very good question, a question that I’ve been asked a few times since:

What does Caribbean speculative fiction offer in terms of content, theme, feeling, and intellectual enquiry that, maybe, other forms of it in the United States, the UK or elsewhere don’t?

Location, language, worldview. It won’t be set in the same places, it won’t be told in the same voice, and it won’t seek the same outcomes. The Caribbean is a beautiful paradox: insular and cosmopolitan, ancient and modern, radical and conservative, accommodating and unforgiving.

Remember that when you read my work!

Interviews and conversations at Locus

I’ve been terrible at updating here over the past week, for which I beg you to accept my sincerest apologies. There are two new things to mention:

1) an amazingly fun podcast I did with Karen Burnham for Locus which, I warn you, is basically two physics geeks chattering on about speculative fiction and occasionally going ‘Ooh!’ and ‘Cool!’; and

2) some online excerpts from my interview ‘Dual Reality’ which is in the August issue of Locus Magazine.

I really enjoyed the podcast and encourage you to go listen to it. The interview excerpts may seem a little disjointed, but that’s because they’re only there to encourage you to buy the magazine for the whole thing 😉

The Coode Street Podcast

It is with a mixture of joy and fear that I direct you to the most recent episode of the Coode Street Podcast, hosted by Jonathan Strahan of Perth, Australia and Gary K. Wolfe of Chicago, USA. Joy because I had such a great time it makes me smile to remember it, but fear because Skpye laboured to connect Perth, Chicago and Barbados. The clipping, the drop-outs, the slowed then speeded speech – I really had to listen hard and fill in gaps most of the time, and even then I’m sure I was only firing on half my comprehension cylinders.

But we had a great discussion! Go check it out.

The Mythopoeic Awards

A while back when I was researching awards (which is not as bad as it sounds – publishers want to know what awards your book might be eligible for), I came across this award, the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature, which is given to the novel that ‘best exemplifies “the spirit of the Inklings”‘.

(Do not ask me to explain who the Inklings were! Google it! Hint: a favourite author of mine features prominently.)

So imagine my absolute delight this afternoon when I read an email from my publisher containing this link:

and this list:

Fantasy Awards

Adult Literature

  • Guy Gavriel Kay, Under Heaven (Roc)
  • Karen Lord, Redemption in Indigo (Small Beer Press)
  • Patricia A. McKillip, The Bards of Bone Plain (Ace)
  • Devon Monk, A Cup of Normal (Fairwood Press)
  • Sharon Shinn, Troubled Waters (Ace)

Children’s Literature

  • Catherine Fisher, Incarceron and Sapphique (Dial)
  • Terry Pratchett, I Shall Wear Midnight (HarperCollins)
  • Polly Shulman, The Grimm Legacy (Putnam Juvenile)
  • Heather Tomlinson, Toads and Diamonds (Henry Holt)
  • Megan Whalen Turner, The Queen’s Thief series, consisting of The ThiefThe Queen of AttoliaThe King of Attolia, and A Conspiracy of Kings (Greenwillow Books)

Thank you, Mythopoeic Society!

Congrats also to Farah Mendlesohn (well-met at ICFA), who features on the scholarship portion of the list:

Scholarship Awards

Inklings Studies

  • Bradford Lee Eden, ed., Middle-earth Minstrel: Essays on Music in Tolkien (McFarland, 2010)
  • Verlyn Flieger and Douglas A. Anderson, eds., Tolkien on Fairy-stories: Expanded Edition, with Commentary and Notes (HarperCollins, 2008)
  • Douglas Charles Kane, Arda Reconstructed: The Creation of the Published Silmarillion (Lehigh Univ. Press, 2009)
  • Steve Walker, The Power of Tolkien’s Prose: Middle-earth’s Magical Style (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009)
  • Michael Ward, Planet Narnia: The Seven Heavens in the Imagination of C.S. Lewis (Oxford Univ. Press, 2008)

Myth and Fantasy Studies

  • Don W. King, ed., Out of my Bone: The Letters of Joy Davidman (Eerdmans Pub., 2009)
  • Ursula K. Le Guin, Cheek by Jowl (Aqueduct Press, 2009)
  • Farah Mendlesohn, Rhetorics of Fantasy (Wesleyan Univ. Press, 2008)
  • Leslie A. Sconduto, Metamorphoses of the Werewolf: A Literary Study from Antiquity through the Renaissance (McFarland, 2008)
  • Caroline Sumpter, The Victorian Press and the Fairy Tale (Palgrave Macmillan, 2008)

Worldbuilding according to writers

Just  a quick note to point your attention to SF Signal where various authors have written on the master worldbuilders and what they learned from them. I’ve added my two cents, and my choices will not be at all strange to anyone who knows me, though I should point out that the constraints of brevity made me simplify my post. I focused on those elements of worldbuilding that I found most striking (which is not the same as endorsing that author’s world as being the best all-round example at worldbuilding in all aspects, nor does it mean that I think it was the only thing the author was good at).

I am a bit of a nit-picker when it comes to structures and processes, and incongruities and inconsistencies will niggle at me when they undermine plot and characterisation. Having said that, making a beautiful world with poor plot and flat characters is a far less tolerable mistake.

In other news, I’ve been a bit scarce due to workload, and will continue to be so, but things are improving on the technology front. I have a new, zippy little macbook air 11, and we are getting along as if made for each other!

OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature

The shortlist has been announced!

Haitian-American writer Edwidge Danticat, who was previously given a MacArthur Foundation “Genius Award” in 2009, is the non-fiction category winner for the 2011 OCM Bocas Prize, for her essay collection Create Dangerously: The Immigrant Artist at Work. The judges describe the book as “thoughtful, interesting, and varied in its insights, often moving, and beautifully written, in a passionate yet restrained style.”

St. Lucian Nobel laureate Derek Walcott is the poetry category winner, for his book White Egrets, which has already won the prestigious T.S. Eliot Prize. The OCM Bocas Prize judges call it “a superb collection . . . that speaks for all of us who live and love and can’t ever take our eyes off the wonder of the world around us.”

The fiction category winner is How to Escape a Leper Colony, the debut short fiction collection by Tiphanie Yanique of the US Virgin Islands. “Extremely touching but never sentimental,” say the judges, “this is a wonderfully engaging gathering of stories by a genuinely gifted writer.”

This new regional festival and prize comes in a great year for Caribbean literature. I’m sorry I’m going to miss the festival (previous commitment), but I’ll be following the updates by web and by twitter. I encourage you to do the same.

A quick update

I feel inspired to write a mini-conference report on the International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts, but that will have to happen a little later when I’ve caught up on a few real-life things. For now, let me catch up on the virtual as well and point your attention to this post from Jeff VanderMeer which goes into greater detail on the upcoming book on writing, Shared Worlds/Single Vision:

First off, the book will be designed by John Coulthart, who I think is a genius …. It will also feature over 100 full-color illustrations, paintings, and other images, about 70 percent of it provided by John and the rest by a variety of creators.

Finally, the book will also feature sidebar essays by the following, or exclusive interviews (as noted):

—Iconic fantasist Neil Gaiman
—National Book Award finalist Paolo Bacigalupi, author of The Windup Girl
—NYT Bestseller George RR Martin(HBO series Game of Thrones; interview)
—NYT Bestselling author Karen Joy Fowler
—Diana Gill, editor-in-chief of HarperVoyager
—Karin Lowachee, author of the critically acclaimed The Gaslight Dogs and Warchild
—NYT Bestseller Lev Grossman, author of The Magicians: A Novel
—Crawford Award winner Karen Lord, author of Redemption in Indigo: a novel
Michael Moorcock, among England’s greatest living novelists
—Liza Trombi, editor-in-chief of Locus Magazine
—Nick Mamatas, author of the cult classic Move Under Ground
—Anthologist and Hugo Award-winning editor of Weird Tales, Ann VanderMeer
—National Book Foundation “5 Under 35” award recipient Charles Yu, author of the critically acclaimed How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe: A Novel

I have lazily and selfishly quoted the bit that has my name in it, but the whole post is essential reading, because this is going to be an incredible book, a book like no other in the field.

More upcoming stuff

I’ll be writing a little non-fiction soon. Here’s the news from Jeff VanderMeer’s blog:

SHARED WORLDS/SINGLE VISION (Abrams Image)—This unique book focused on the craft of writing SF/Fantasy will combine a textual and visual approach in a 7 x 10 full-color format featuring over 100 images. Currently, the awesome John Coulthart is the designated designer. $1,000 of the advance will go to Clarion San Diego. In addition I will underwrite the Shared Worlds teen SF/F writing camp student antho for three years. And a percentage of all royalties from sales will be split equally between Clarion San Diego and Shared Worlds. I’ll be writing the main text, but added bonuses will include pieces from Neil Gaiman, George RR Martin, Karen Lord, Karen Joy Fowler, Michael Moorcock, Paolo Bacigalupi, Liza Trombi, Diana Gill, Ann VanderMeer, Jeremy L.C. Jones, Charles Yu, Karin Lowachee, Nick Mamatas, Lev Grossman, and others. Most of it originals.

I’m excited about this! It’s going to be gorgeous.