JG: In describing Anglophone SF/F as “treat[ing] subjects close to the hearts of straight, white, English-speaking men,” you also write of a market that caters greatly to the White Gaze. How do you think writers could challenge themselves to write beyond this Gaze?
FF: Quoting from Hamlet (a White Gaze, I know, I know, heh): “To thine own self be true,” Polonius’s last piece of advice to his son Laertes. But, really, there is no better advice. Write what you want to write, not what you think the majority of readers out there will want to read. That should do the trick.
JG: Ah! But “to thine own self be true” is also a murky subject, given how many colonized peoples now identify and agree with colonizer perspectives. Colonialism is so much more than just economic and military domination, no? How do you think writers from colonized peoples can deal with this issue?
FF: Now that’s an excellent question—and I must confess I’m looking forward to see the responses I’m going to get from writers regarding this particular issue. I’m aware I can get stories from the POV of colonized people who now are completely comfortable with their former colonizer’s culture. This, in fact, seem to be the rule, not the exception, at least in Latin America. Take Brazil, for instance. We were colonized by Portugal, and we absorbed all we could from continental Europe culture until 1950s, when we started to absorb US culture. Our 19th-century average writer, from Romance novelist José de Alencar to Realist Machado de Assis (our most revered writer, and—most important of all—a black writer, a fact that was severely downplayed until not so long ago) drank on the sources of French and British authors—Alencar was a reader of Victor Hugo’s, and Machado de Assis was an avid reader of Swift and Sterne.
In our literary circles, things have changes a lot. Today, the average Brazilian writer usually reads other contemporary Latin American authors, like Roberto Bolaño and Enrique Vila-Matas, so their experience is becoming more and more rich. But in other fields of culture, as in cinema, say, things are still pretty much dominated by Hollywood, for instance. Right now we have an awesome film here about an old soccer star, Heleno de Freitas, starring Rodrigo Santoro (of 300 fame), but everyone is really looking forward to watch The Avengers. This sort of thing happens, I believe, almost everywhere. I would gladly welcome stories both agreeing and disagreeing with colonizer perspectives, as long as they are written by people who have lived in the flesh this experience.
JG: We have a similar problem in Malaysia, where local talent is underappreciated, and “global” (i.e., Hollywood-accredited) works have more value. The issue is definitely both one of psychological imperialism and economic power re: distribution, which makes this anthology’s aim seem even more ambitious. How do you plan on marketing this anthology after publication? What avenues will you and Djibril pursue?
FF: We don’t have money—that’s why we put this project on Peerbackers for a crowdfunding effort. We’re also counting with a great bunch of friends who are helping us, both donating and spreading the word: you, Aliette De Bodard, Ekaterina Sedia, Rose Fox, Karen Burnham, and China Mieville are just a few of them. (Thanks so much to all of you!! WE LOVE YOU!) We’ll continue to market the anthology via Twitter, Facebook, blogs, and every which way we can. We are still discussing a couple of other possibilities, but I can’t tell you anything yet.