FANTASY FRIDAY WITH WYRD & WONDER – FANTASY VOICES FROM AROUND THE WORLD
Welcome to Fantasy Friday!
We decided that we’d take the challenge a step further on Fridays, and post about the prompts in a little more detail.
This week, the prompt is fantasy voices from around the world – we’re focusing on authors rather than setting (see last week’s post)
Underlined book titles in bold contain links to reviews on this site.
I’m going to pick two titles from my to-be-read because I’m thoroughly looking forward to both. My first choice is, She Who Became The Sun by Shelley Parker Chan – who is from Australia. This is an Asian Inspired fantasy, a queer reimagining of the Ming Dynasty’s Founding Emperor. Which sounds pretty cool to me. It’s due for release 22nd July. I really could have written a whole list of female authors from Australia but I think we’re saving that for a post of its own!
My second choice is The NeverEnding Story by Michael Ende – who lived his entire life in Germany. Ever since my childhood I’ve loved the film adaptation of this, even though it’s a pretty traumatic story – Artax!! However it was only a few years ago that I came to know it was actually a book. I snapped up a copy pretty sharpish but it’s stayed on my to-read shelf ever since. Maybe I’m just saving it for a day when I need an extra magical nostalgic read.
This week’s focus on authors from around the world has me thinking of TASMYN MUIR, author of Gideon The Ninth (THE LOCKED TOMB trilogy) – from New Zealand. The front cover blurb by Charles Stross describes the story as “Lesbian necromancers explore a haunted gothic palace in space!” and I loved her “Lovecraftian” gothic and contemporary writing style. Though she has moved away from New Zealand in recent years, she had this to say about her writing:
“I used to think that being a New Zealander hadn’t affected my writing much, either in flavour or setting. Moving away has changed that. It’s easy to be a Kiwi writer when you’re physically in NZ. […] I must have some particular stance in which I write from that’s peculiarly Kiwi – I’ve grown up reading the science fiction and fantasy of Margaret Mahy and Ken Catran – but I think I’ll only be able to identify it the longer I live and write away from home.” (taken from her website)
Suyi Davies Okungbowa’s David Mogo Godhunter: the publisher calls it “Nigerian God Punk” – I would go either with near future dystopian or even just Urban Fantasy.
But aside from what you want to call it, David Mogo is a demigod living in Lagos. He tries to clean the streets from so called godlings, to make it safe to live there, when he gets drawn into a lot more adventure than he was looking for… And wherever he goes, chaos seems to follow!
This seems like a good place to mention Lavie Tidhar’s new anthology, The Best Of World SF, which has just come out from Head Of Zeus. The anthology collects together a range of incredible genre fiction writers from across the world, showing just how incredible and diverse the field is, with talent from across the globe.
In terms of individual writers, there is a lot of really amazing Finnish New Weird. Joanna Sinisalo’s Not Before Sundown, Birdbrain and The Core of The Sun are innovative and mindbending takes on the Fantastic. Not Before Sundown in particular is a disconcerting exploration of gender and sexuality.
Leena Krohn has also written a range of incredible and bizarre speculative fiction, my favourite being Tainaron: Mail From Another City, which chronicles a human woman’s stay in a city inhabited entirely by insects.
Nigerian writer Amos Tutuola wrote bizarre, dreamlike Fantasy drawing on Yoruba mythology. The Palm-Wine Drinkard and My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts are full of startling imagery and hypnagogic magic.
Tade Thompson is a British born author from a Yaruba background, whose incredible Rosewater trilogy tells the tale of a cyberpunk fungal alien invasion set in Nigeria.
Japan has its own unique take on speculative fiction. I am particularly fond of Yasutaka Tsutsui, whose psychedelic dream-hacking Philip K. Dick nightmare Paprika was adapted brilliantly into an anime film by Satoshi Kon, and whose wistful time travel Fantasy The Girl Who Leapt Through Time was likewise adapted into a popular anime by Madhouse studios. His short story collection Salmonella Men on Planet Porno demonstrates his skill at constructing smart and cynical short fiction reminiscent of J. G. Ballard.
Marian Womack is a writer from Andalucia whose innovative blend of Weird fiction and climate change anxiety has created some of the most striking speculative fiction and Fantasy in recent years. Her latest novel The Swimmers is essential, but check out her previous novel The Golden Key for spooky folk horror climate change gothic, and her short story collection Lost Objects for some of the most haunting and pertinent short fiction I’ve ever read.
Lavie Tidhar, as well as editing the World SF anthology, is an absolutely essential modern writer, whose international perspective informs his fiction. He has written everything from the incisive political alternate histories of Osama and A Man Lies Dreaming to the deconstruction of Arthurian fantasy in By Force Alone and the lyrical Central Station set around a hub of intergalactic travel in Tel Aviv.
I fear this summary barely scratches the surface of what’s out there, and frankly as much as anything else I am supremely grateful to be living in a time when there are so many incredible authors from around the world and it is slowly but surely becoming easier to discover them.
This is definitely an area I need to improve my reading in, as I haven’t really explored the literary world outside of the UK, US, and some of the recent fantasy coming out of Australia (Sam Hawke, Devin Madson, Leife Shallcross, E. J. Beaton…)
K. S. Villoso would be a good author to talk about here. Currently living in Canda, Kay was born and spent her childhood in the Philippines. Her Chronicles of the Bitch Queen, beginning with The Wolf of Oren-Yaro, are heavily influenced by Bicol, and Filipino culture and mythology.
There’s also Japanese author Haruki Murakami. Although his books are not generally labelled “fantasy”, there’s definitely an element of fantasy, magical realism, and surrealism about them. My favourites include Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World and 1Q84.
I’ve just finished reading Marion Lane and the Midnight Murder and was surprised to discover the author, T. A. Willberg, is South African and currently living in Malta. The tunnels underground in which the detective agency in the story is housed is based upon the subterranean worlds of both London and the city of Valetta in which the author lives.
Next week we’re focusing on fantasy in translation.