One of the most exciting developments in the speculative fiction field is the growing visibility and recognition of stories rooted deeply in cultures other than the default western European/American ones. I don't say "growing presence" because it is only the wider recognition that is new. Karen Lord has assembled this anthology New Worlds, Old Ways: Speculative Tales from the Caribbean to showcase some of the excellent SFF being produced in her home region.
Do not be misled by the “speculative” in the title. Although there may be robots and fantastical creatures, these common symbols are tools to frame the familiar from fresh perspectives. Here you will find the recent past and ongoing present of government and society with curfews, crime, and corruption; the universal themes of family, growth and death, love and hate; the struggle to thrive when power is capricious and revenge too bittersweet. Here too is the passage of everything—old ways, places, peoples, and ourselves—leaving nothing behind but memories, histories, and stories. This anthology speaks to the fragility of our Caribbean home, but reminds the reader that although home may be vulnerable, it is also beautifully resilient. The voice of our literature declares that in spite of disasters, this people and this place shall not be wholly destroyed. Read for delight, then read for depth, and you will not be disappointed. Includes brand-new stories by Tammi Browne-Bannister, Summer Edward, Portia Subran, Brandon O’Brien, Kevin Jared Hosein, Richard B. Lynch, Elizabeth J. Jones, Damion Wilson, Brian Franklin, Ararimeh Aiyejina, and H.K. Williams.
A solid "sense of place" can be a challenge to develop when creating your own countries or worlds. Even more of a challenge when creating a culture very different from the one I live in. I will make no claims regarding how well I have succeeded. But one of the things that warms my heart in reader comments on the series, is when they say that books like Mother of Souls make them feel like Alpennia is a real location--just one that somehow got left off the maps and out of the history books. If you enjoy that experience, then seek out fiction by writers like Karen Lord that really is about places and cultures that tend to get left off the literary maps and out of the genre history books.
The Great November Book Release Re-Boot is a blog series talking about November 2016 releases that may have been overshadowed by unfortunate political events.