So Long Been Dreaming: Postcolonial Science Fiction & Fantasy is an anthology of original new stories by leading African, Asian, South Asian and Aboriginal authors, as well as North American and British writers of color.
Stories of imagined futures abound in Western writing. Writer and editor Nalo Hopkinson notes that the science fiction/fantasy genre “speaks so much about the experience of being alienated but contains so little writing by alienated people themselves.” It’s an oversight that Hopkinson and Mehan aim to correct with this anthology.
The book depicts imagined futures from the perspectives of writers associated with what might loosely be termed the “third world.” It includes stories that are bold, imaginative, edgy; stories that are centered in the worlds of the “developing” nations; stories that dare to dream what we might develop into.
The wealth of postcolonial literature has included many who have written insightfully about their pasts and presents. With So Long Been Dreaming they creatively address their futures.
Contributors include: Opal Palmer Adisa, Tobias Buckell, Wayde Compton, Hiromi Goto, Andrea Hairston, Tamai Kobayashi, Karin Lowachee, devorah major, Carole McDonnell, Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu, Eden Robinson, Nisi Shawl, Vandana Singh, Sheree Renee Thomas and Greg Van Eekhout.
Nalo Hopkinson is the internationally-acclaimed author of Brown Girl in the Ring, Skin Folk, and Salt Roads. Her books have been nominated for the Hugo, Nebula, Tiptree, and Philip K. Dick Awards; Skin Folk won a World Fantasy Award and the Sunburst Award. Born in Jamaica, Nalo moved to Canada when she was sixteen. She lives in Toronto.
Uppinder Mehan is a scholar of science fiction and postcolonial literature. A South Asian Canadian, he currently lives in Boston and teaches at Emerson College.
|Publisher:||Arsenal Pulp Press, Limited|
|Sold by:||Barnes & Noble|
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Reading this collection of short stories is almost as good as traveling around the world. The editor, Nalo Hopkinson presented her readers with a smorgasbord of writing from authors whose family background hail from the countries deeply impacted by Colonial Imperialism -- Asia, India, Africa. The lush settings in both the science fiction and fantasy stories, many times reeking of mythology and foreign ports, contribute to a feeling of unique sensory as well as personal experience, many times disconnected from the mainstream of society. The two stories I found best full of pure sensual experience were ¿The Grassdreaming Tree¿ by Sheree R. Thomas and ¿Scarabs Multiply¿ by Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu. Ms. Thomas¿ story presents the outcast in society as an outsider trying to break into village life. I¿m used to seeing grasshoppers as villains but in this story, they act as a force of nature that the outsider invokes beautifully. Add to this the fact that the outsider captures the heart of a like-minded youngster and you get heartbreaking drama. In ¿Scarabs Multiply¿, recent events in Africa come to mind. You see a goddess save the people from a tyrant through the eyes of a young girl torn between parents and between what is good for society. Accepting radical change is perhaps the most common requirement that people must face when encroached upon by outsiders with superior technology. Carole McDonnell¿s story ¿Lingua Franca¿ is a real standout in it¿s touching protrayal of a mother unhappy and afraid for her daughter to accept a foreign language. The tale uses good technology, the use of implants to help deaf persons. It¿s especially effective because it shows not only the trauma of many post-colonial countries losing their native language, but also works as a modern tale where technology and the internet is replacing spoken language. Two other tales were noteworthy but showed the ill effects of denial of change. Eden Robinson shows the trauma when one son from a First Nations family joins the Peace Keepers of a dystopian society. Another by Celu Amberstone uses a diary style of writing to show how a group of refugees affects the locals trying to survive a new planet. Despite rather heavy prose, I liked ¿Delhi¿ by Vandana Singh perhaps the best, maybe because I¿d visited Delhi a number of years ago. In this tale, a local is given what amounts to a fortune -- the picture of a girl. In the narrator¿s search for this girl, his own fate, and to help others, you see the old and the new of India clashing through time while the tradition of helping the beggars continues. This tale was the only one that reached into my emotions and as such is high on my list of recommendations. Overall, in ¿So Long Been Dreaming¿, the reader is enticed into new worlds that have grown out of a history, culture, and experience than one usually encounters in generic science fiction and fantasy. The tales told echo human experience in an imaginative way, but also beg the question ¿if we go forward into the future, won¿t we face many of the same difficulties of our past?¿ Nalo Hopkinson as editor really pulled together a wonderful collection of tales that share many of the same qualities -- characters you appreciate, settings that are lush, and tales that are imaginative and strongly plotted.
So Long Been Dreaming is a fantastic short story collection. The best stories in the collection were When Scarabs Multiply by Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu, The Blue Road: a Fairy Tale by Wayde Compton, The Forgotten Ones by Karin Lowachee, Native Aliens by Greg van Eekhout, and Refugees by Celue Amberstone.
Despite the somewhat "worthy" premise, this is an interesting anthology. The theme is loosely interpreted throughout a number of stories of highly variable quality and is a good springboard for some interesting ideas.