A Quick Note: The Silence and Caribbean Science Fiction

Leave a comment

Readers of the blog will have noticed my silence for the last week and a half (with the exception of a handful of posts).  This is entirely intentional, and I think you all deserve an explanation.

The reason:  I am working on my MA Thesis at this very moment (draft #1), which is due at 11:59 (and 59s) PM on the 31st (less than two days now).  Needless to say, it has been excruciatingly difficult.  I do expect to return on the 1st.  No joke.  I have posts.  I will be posting.  That’s two more days.  You can handle that, right?

For those curious about the about-ness of this paper, you’ll be pleased to know that I’m going to bore you with my rough abstract for the Eaton Conference, which I will be presenting at in February of next year:

Caribbean speculative fiction has historically been primarily occupied with the fantastic—magical realism, folklore, and fantasy—with traditional elements of science fiction—advanced technology, space travel, etc.—mostly left to developed and developing nations, such as the United States, India, China, and some nations of the Latin American mainland. Careful study will show that this has little to do with disinterest on the part of Caribbean nations in matters of technology or space; in fact, a great number of Caribbean governments have played a part in the ratification of a number of United Nations amendments related to the space industry. There are exceptions, mostly notably in Cuba, which has a strong science fiction community that has gone largely unnoticed by Western mainstream audiences.

Yet the Caribbean has found a strong voice in the science fiction works of Tobias S. Buckell and Nalo Hopkinson, both Caribbean-born writers who have secured their places in a now rising multicultural shift in Western science fiction—a movement split between the increased mainstream interest in “World SF” and the inclusion of non-Western settings and characters within mainstream SF itself. What is most striking about the inclusion of Caribbean views within Western SF is that many of the authors are expatriates, and this is particularly relevant when discussing the works of Buckell and Hopkinson. Both authors have imagined futures in which the Caribbean not only has a presence in space, but is also an active participant in the colonization of other planets. These futures reflect a modern Caribbean consciousness in which identity is complicated by the postcolonial situation, the problematic nature of expatriation, and the fracturing (or merging/creolization) of cultures; this reflection, however, is relayed through a space-oriented setting where Caribbean characters and cultures have coalesced and established themselves outside of the traditional postcolonial situation, and outer space itself becomes an object through which postcolonialism and its predecessor are combated or rendered mute, thus allowing for the formation of an identity that is not predicated upon an un-chosen past.

In this paper I will analyze and discuss how Tobias S. Buckell’s trilogy of science fiction novels and Nalo Hopkinson’s Midnight Robbers, along with some of her short stories, present outer space as an answer to the issue of “space” and cultural ownership within the Caribbean context. These writers, I will argue, imagine futures in which outer space is both an answer to the postcolonial situation in the Caribbean and a “space,” in the general sense, that is part liberatory and part identity-forming.

And that’s that…

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.

Leave a Reply