“First Nations and science fiction don’t usually go together,” admits Drew Hayden Taylor in the introduction to his new short story collection, Take Us to Your Chief. A popular Ojibway author, essayist, and playwright, Taylor is best well known for his amusing and incisive non-fiction (Funny, You Don’t Look Like One), and as the editor of several non-fiction anthologies (Me Sexy and Me Funny) about Aboriginal culture and society. With Take Us to Your Chief, Taylor is taking on a new challenge by bringing together his experience as a leading writer on the First Nations people of Canada and his childhood love of science fiction. “In fact,” Taylor continues, “they could be considered rather unusual topics to mention in the same sentence, much like fish and bicycles. As genre fiction goes, they are practically strangers, except for maybe the occasional parallel universe story.”
Taylor grew up watching and reading science fiction. He’s an admitted fan of Golden Age SF (which shows through in each of the collection’s nine stories), and devoured H.G. Wells as a youth—but satisfying Aboriginal SF was not something that existed at that time, and even now is difficult to find. “Most people’s only contact with Native sci-fi is that famous episode from the original Star Trek series called ‘The Paradise Syndrome,'” Taylor says, referencing the long-regretful representation of Aboriginal people in genre fiction, “where Kirk loses his memory and ends up living with some transplanted Indigene on a faraway planet. These Aboriginal folks came complete with black wigs, standard 1960s headbands and fringed miniskirts.”
Despite Taylor’s concerns about the crossover between traditional First Nations history, culture, and storytelling and science fiction, Take Us to Your Chief proves that even the least likely companions can become bosom buddies.