starlady: Cindi Mayweather running through Metropolis (i believe in the archandroid)
[personal profile] starlady
The Apex Book of World SF. Ed. Lavie Tidhar. Lexington, KY: Apex Publications, 2009.

Borrowed from [personal profile] troisroyaumes; thanks again!

The Apex Book of World SF is an outgrowth both of Apex magazine and of The World SF Blog; the blog in particular tries to present SF from around the world to an English-speaking audience, which at least in the States has historically been disinterested in translated literature. I didn't need to read this book to know that English-language readers, particularly in the States, are missing out, but the book offers further incontrovertible proof of that fact, as if any were needed.

The book's full table of contents, several reviews, and buying links are at this post on the blog. Several of the stories and authors are World Fantasy Award-winners, but for me there were two standouts:

Aliette de Bodard's "The Lost Xuyan Bride" is set in the author's Xuya universe, which posits that the west coast of North America was colonized by Chinese people sufficiently early that the great Mesoamerican civilizations were able to survive the epidemiologic onslaught of Eurasian diseases more or less intact. This story in particular follows the noir-ish adventures of an American private eye living in an uneasy self-imposed exile on the Xuyan side of the Rockies after he is hired by a high-ranking businesswoman to find her missing daughter. I love de Bodard's work, and this story is a good example of why.

Kristin Mandigma's "Excerpt from a Letter from a Social-Realist Aswang" is the shortest story in the book and also the awesomest. If you don't know what an aswang is going in, you may miss a few details, but all you really need to know you'll find in the story:

With regard to your question about how I perceive myself as an "Other," let me make it clear that I am as fantastic to myself as rice. I do not waste time sitting around brooding about my mythic status and why the notion that I have lived for five hundred years ought to send me into a paroxysm of metaphysical angst for the benefit of self-indulgent, overprivileged, cultural hegemonists who fancy themselves writers. So there are times in the month when half of me flies off to--as you put it so charmingly--eat babies. Well, I ask you, so what? For your information, I only eat babies whose parents are far too entrenched in the oppressive capitalist superstructure to expect them to be redeemed as good dialectical materialists. It is a legitimate form of population control, I dare say.

And it continues that awesome. Mandigma is Filipina, and I would absolutely love to read more of her work.

The other stories, quite frankly, struck me as something of a mixed bag; SF globally is evidently not immune from the same issues that I have with SF locally, namely a focus on male protagonists and on the experience of the white guy abroad as opposed to the actual non-white people who are from the country in question. Still, the book is unquestionably worth a read, and I'll definitely be reading the blog for future books of world SF.
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