An Amusing Aside: Aliette de Bodard on Fantasy Set in Non-Western Cultures

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I don’t know if this is a trend in the blogging world, but not long after I posted my thoughts on why European-influenced fantasy is so prevalent in the publishing world, Aliette de Bodard took the reigns over at A Dribble of Ink to talk about the other end of the scale:  writing fantasy set in non-Western cultures.

Here’s an excerpt:

For me, that’s the single most important step of drawing inspiration from another culture: if I don’t get this right, then my Aztec warriors will end up sounding like English knights in costume, and I might as well not have tried. Your mileage might vary; I think it’s disrespectful to raid a culture for the colourful exotic trappings and not put in anything of its basic values, though there is a question of where to draw the line between drawing inspiration and rendering the exact same culture in a secondary world fantasy (a thorny problem I mostly skirt around, as I’m writing historical fantasy set in the actual Aztec Empire).

 I think it’s interesting to see people treating this subject in much the same way as folks have been treating “writing the Other.”  I also think it’s interesting to see more and more attention going to SF/F which isn’t oriented specifically in traditional Western culture (i.e., European-oriented Western culture).  A trend?  I don’t know.  Maybe.  Lavie Tidhar over at the World SF blog has made some serious waves in my opinion — so much so that he got a nod in my MA thesis.

Definitely check out Bodard’s full discussion if you want to know more.

About the Author:

Shaun Duke is an aspiring writer, a reviewer, and an academic. He is currently a graduate student at the University of Florida studying science fiction, postcolonialism, posthumanism, and fantasy.

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