The genre world goes through phases much the same as any other cultural zeitgeist. Right now, horror is mired neck-deep in the world of vampires and paranormal romance (with zombies running a close second). Science fiction readers are enthralled with steampunk and the apocalypse. Fantasy is trending toward more gritty, salt-of-the-earth type novels (raise your hand Richard K. Morgan!).
The zeitgeist winds are blowing, my friends. We have seen the science fiction community lift its gaze from its current obsession, push those horn rimmed glasses higher up the bridges of their noses, and expand their view of the world beyond the borders of the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia. We, as a community, have taken a keen interest in the concept of “world SF.”
What is world SF? I’d describe it as science fiction written by authors native to countries where English is not the national language. Simple enough, right?
Perhaps the English reader’s interest in world SF has always been present and what we’re seeing is the gradual growth of interest of international works as our world becomes smaller thanks to the Internet. A cursory glance at the past decade one can see that there’s been a handful of well-received anthologies containing works of a non-English origin—a recent example being The SFWA European Hall of Fame edited by James Morrow and Kathy Morrow. Also, SF claims a number of legendary non-English authors such as Stanislaw Lem and Zoran Živković. Now, a pair of hard-working writers have taken that spark of interest and nurtured it into a fully-fledged movement.
Charles Tan lives in the Philippines and runs a great blog named Bibliophile Stalker. Bibliophile Stalker has long been a great resource for science fiction readers interested in finding interviews, free short fiction, and features on various aspects of the genre. On top of running an entertaining blog, Charles has been a vocal advocate of genre work written by Filipinos and runs the Philippine Speculative Fiction Sampler webzine.
Lavie Tidhar is often described as ubiquitous. I’d consider that to be spot on. He’s had fiction published in Clarkesworld, Chizine, Interzone, Apex Magazine, Fantasy and many others. He’s a common presence in many high profile standalone print anthologies. Lavie recently landed a three-book deal with Angry Robot (the first novel of a planned three part series, The Bookman, comes out later this year), has a novel out via Chizine Publications, and is the editor of The Apex Book of World SF.
Lavie and Charles have joined forces and created the World SF News Blog. As described on the blog, “The World SF News Blog is dedicated to posting links, news and original content related to science fiction, fantasy, horror and comics from around the world.” They routinely interview non-English authors (including one with Ashok Bankor that sparked a bit of controversy that has been subsequently been removed), bring to attention excellent work from China, Israel, France, and almost anywhere else where a talented writer might put pen to paper.
It’s a great website. If you’re looking to read something a little different--something ‘foreign’ even--then head over to the World SF News Blog. You’re certain to find something of high quality.
Jason Sizemore is the owner of Apex Publications. He graduated from Transylvania University, watched The Exorcist with his mom at age ten, and when he was a kid he liked to play Aliens with his little brother. For more information about this odd fellow visit jason-sizemore.com.