April 15, 2012

Native science-fiction anthology

First Native Science Fiction Anthology Showcases Indigenous Imagination

New Realms: Review of Walking the Clouds: An Anthology of Indigenous Science Fiction

By Joseph ZummoWith its mind-bending possibilities, science fiction is the perfect genre for Native storytelling. Now, Walking the Clouds: An Anthology of Indigenous Science Fiction (University of Arizona Press, 2012), edited by Grace Dillon, is the first collection of stories, excerpts and poems from this overlooked field.

Dillon, a professor in the Indigenous Nations Studies program at Portland State University in Oregon, aims to show that “Native storytelling has always contained the elements of science fiction that are considered forward-thinking, inventive and visionary today,” she told Indian Country Today Media Network.

Dillon brings together authors and pieces that previously have been shoehorned into a broad range of other subgenres, from classic spaceships-and-lasers adventures to more unusual styles, such as magical realism or stream-of-consciousness. Most passages are short excerpts, usually no more than 10 pages, of much longer works. This may disappoint readers who hoped to enjoy fully developed tales. But a few excellent short stories are printed in full.

The editor precedes each piece with literary analysis and context, making this book an excellent starting point for scholars and sci-fi fans alike. In pulling together 19 excerpts from 16 authors, Dillon offers insights into the artistic freedom that science fiction gives some of the best and most widely acclaimed Native writers. Anything can happen in this genre, Dillon points out. The rules and expectations of conventional writing do not apply.
Comment:  For more on Native science fiction, see Indians as Werewolves and Spacemen and Cherokee Novelist Sells Robopocalypse.

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