4/17/2017 1 Comment
A couple of months ago, I had the distinct pleasure of curating and hosting a NYRSF Reading at the Brooklyn Commons where Phenderson Djèlí Clark, S.A. Chakraborty, and Haris Durrani read from their latest speculative fiction stories and engaged in a discussion around the topic of otherness in America.
One of the strengths of speculative fiction as a genre is that it takes difficult topics and makes them a little safer to discuss. Bigotry, racism, climate change, cultural appropriation, war, they all become a little less scary relative to the red dragon swooping down to destroy your village and send you on your quest. In this case the, the big scary thing is "the other."
Who is it that decides what is American? Who gets to wear the cape? Who gets to sit at the table and tell its stories? This election has really put these questions front and center as America gropes around blindly for a new villain. They found brown immigrants and Muslims. While that isn't surprising, it is no less disheartening, considering the demographics of our country. Which brings us to these authors.
Phendersan, Shan, and Haris are all current or former academics. All three have a deep knowledge of history, America's and the worlds. All three are in some way interstitial. To become the people they are now and tell the stories that they do, they needed to cross at least one border. Their stories and those like them allow for interchange of ideas, perspectives, understanding. They allow one to breath, so are more like skin then concrete and barbed wire.
Their stories are outstanding and for some, possibly life changing. For many, possibly life saving, because a living breathing country that tells stories only of the past is sucking on dead air and that can't last very long without obvious consequences.
Please, buy their stories and follow them on Twitter at @pdjeliclark , @SChakrabs , and @hdernity