Really thrilled that Speculating Canada reviewed my short story, “One Nation Under Gods” which appeared in Tesseracts 14. It’s hard to get short fiction reviews and they are so valuable. The SF/F/H community should hold tight and nurture as many reviewers as we can. With a growing market of books, the discerning reader looks to reviews to help choose what to read. And reviewers who choose short fiction, new authors, and anthologies help support beginning writers who are starting their careers, hoping that someone notices. So we can’t fete reviewers enough–we need them, we love them, we should be very kind to them.
I’d say this for any thoughtful reviewer, even if Derek had NOT liked my work. It’s the way he liked my work that makes me happy.
Speculating Canada has a really great aim:
This site has been created in response to the overwhelming number of people who are surprised that Canadian literature includes the fantastic. Canadian SF, fantasy, and horror have been cast into a literary ghetto under the power structure of CanLit, and cast as either inferior literatures, or literatures that are not ‘of here’, i.e. from abroad. Yet, Canadian speculative fiction has a long history in Canada and engages with ideas of Canadian identity, belonging, and concepts of nationhood, place and space (both ‘the final frontier’ type, and the geographical).
Realist fiction is often seen as the only ‘truly’ Canadian fiction, but even realist fiction speculates, postulates and creates a fantastic idea, just one that is based more closely on the normative world around us than most SF authors are inclined to do.
Canadian SF allows for the engagement with ideas such as What is Canada? What does belonging mean? What is the nature of ‘human’? Why are things the way they are? How do we change things? Can things change?
The appeal of Canadian SF is not just regional, but has implications for a wider audience. Canadians, long un/comfortable with our identity as a hybrid of the American and English, Francophones and Anglophones, Aboriginal and settlers, and the multicultural mix that is embedded in our philosophy, means that we are comfortable with questions of identity and the exploration of our place, ideas that naturally lend themselves to science fiction, fantasy, and horror. We live in a world that is unsure of itself, and uncomfortable with ideas of belonging, and Canadian SF plays with ideas of belonging, disrupts the normal (or what has come to be seen as normal) and allows for a new way of experiencing the world.
As for the review–well, I’ll let you read most of it as his site, but here’s a nice chunk:
Stueart creates a United States in which American concepts of patriotism are physically manifest in American gods. Gods like Lady Liberty, Strike, and Patriot demand a heavy toll for occupancy in the United States. They demand students to memorise American history, to tell and re-tell the stories of the American gods to keep them real and powerful. When students fail to remember American history, they are made ‘useful’ by being turned into buildings and structures of society, indicating the consumption of the uneducated by a corporate structure that turns them into the tools of society. They literally become stores, missiles, and other implements of American corporate society.
As a former American, Stueart offers a critique of his former home, questioning the social underpinnings of American society and questioning the absolute adherence to an American myth about a society that is immensely important and needs to be remembered above all others.
I love Derek’s fresh eyes on my work. He says things I hadn’t consciously thought about–but they are probably deep down correct. Love when someone brings up things hidden in your work. Thoughtful reviews–we would die without them, I think, as an industry. Thanks, Derek!
Derek Newman-Stille is a PhD student at the Frost Centre for Canadian Studies at Trent University. Derek researches Canadian Urban Dark Fantasy and the use of the symbol of the monster for exploring the representation of disability issues. He has taught courses at Trent university on Werewolves as Symbols of the Human Experience and Witchcraft in the Greek and Roman World, and has presented papers on the Canadian fantastic at the Popular Culture Association of Canada, The International Conference for the Fantastic in the Arts, the Academic Conference on Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy, as well as at several other conferences on various aspects of his research.
Tesseracts 14 is 15th in a series of science fiction and fantasy anthologies that promote Canadian speculative fiction (horror, science fiction, fantasy and lots of the in betweens), and was edited by John Robert Colombo and Brett Savory, published by EDGE Books and Hades Publications. The series is a great record of Canadian writers of speculative fiction–some from the beginning of their careers, some from the heights. Tesseracts 17 has a call out for submissions right now. (they do accept us Landed Immigrants…)