Exploring violence in The Fifth Season / La exploración de la violencia en The Fifth Season

FifthSeason61Spanish translation below the English is by Daniela Toulemonde.

There’s at least a half dozen reasons to encourage you to read The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin, but this post is not a review because, well, I’m about a year late, and there are already great discussions about it here and here. Also, if you’ve read the novel, see Jemisin’s post on it here. This is just a meandering and exploratory post on one aspect of the novel that made me think. It’s the issue of violence.

Everything in this novel creaks and snaps with violence. On the geological front, the earth in The Fifth Season is always erupting, ripping, collapsing, swallowing itself. “Father” earth is not friendly but is interpreted as destructive, unreliable and even evil because the planet goes through repeated cataclysms, known as the fifth season, that crush civilization over and over again.

On a socio-political level, Jemisin’s portrayal of oppression of the orogenes is illustrated in the society at large through depictions of discrimination in the ruling institutions, the elites, and among the common people whose fraught existence in this ever-changing world does not predispose them to kindness toward anything unpredictable, and the orogenes are all that. The novel is full of people of various ethnicities but the orogenes are found across all groups, making this an interesting depiction of oppression that is not confined to the racial framing we generally see. The physical diversity of the oppressed does nothing to diffuse the violence directed against them. Continue reading

A tribute to translators: Q&A with Daniela Toulemonde / Un homenaje a los traductores: Entrevista con Daniela Toulemonde

Spanish translation below the English is by Daniela Toulemonde.

If you believe as I do that translation is absolutely essential for writers who want to share their work and for readers who want to open their minds to seeing the world beyond their own cultural and lingually shaped perceptions, I hope this post will inspire you to join me in supporting translation and translators. We need to celebrate the importance of translation by actively seeking it out both as writers and readers. Yet this is a hollow gesture and poorly accomplished if we fail to honor the skills and talents of the translators who make it possible. Supporting fair contracts for translation services and making prominent acknowledgement of the translator on published works is the least we can do for those who help move us between worlds and introduce us to new ways of understanding ourselves and others.


Daniela Toulemonde

Following is a Q&A with Daniela Toulemonde, a budding 24-year-old translator from Colombia who has been translating the Spanish-language posts you find on this site. Thank you, Daniela, and best of luck in your further studies!

Q: Tell us a little about yourself – where you’re from, what you like to read, future goals, etc..

A: I’m from Colombia, though most of my family is French. I like to read speculative fiction and historical novels, mostly, though lately I don’t have much time to read anything different than what my studies demand, sadly.

I want to be a professional translator, and maybe, eventually, try to get something of my own published. I’m just about to end my undergraduate studies in English Language and Culture (with a minor in French language teaching) at La Sorbonne Nouvelle in Paris. I would like to pursue my studies with an MA in Ireland or England (in Translation Studies). I’m sending the applications next week, so I’m really hoping it will work out! Continue reading

Mothers, queens and power in fiction

aliens-sigourney-weaver-as-ellen-ripley-with-newtIn honor of Mother’s Day, I am celebrating writing about mothers in fiction. Be they amoral, good, reckless, calculating, tender or steel—are there any more fascinating characters to bring to life in a story than mothers?

Though my own mother was and is a gentle person who never threatened my existence, we all live with the shadow idea of our mother. She could have let us drown and disappear in those early days when we were helpless. We know she has shaped us in ways we don’t remember and cannot name. If she is still present in our lives, she has an undeniable authority no matter how sweetly she might communicate that authority. Some of us spend our lifetimes and lots of money for therapy on trying to untangle ourselves from our mothers. Some of us imitate the habits of our mothers with little introspection about the process. For those of us who become mothers, our original anxiety is only amplified about one thousand times by the realization of the terrific power we now wield. Continue reading

More great reading ahead: Locus Award finalists announced

The 2016 Locus Award finalists have been announced, providing yet more outstanding works of science fiction, fantasy and horror to read!  The Locus Awards are chosen by a survey of readers in an open online poll. Winners will be announced at the Locus Awards Weekend in Seattle at the end of June.

Here are the short story finalists:

‘‘Three Cups of Grief, by Starlight’’, Aliette de Bodard (Clarkesworld 1/15) ‘‘Madeleine’’, Amal El-Mohtar (Lightspeed 6/15) Reviewed here.
‘‘Cat Pictures Please’’, Naomi Kritzer (Clarkesworld 1/15) Reviewed here.
‘‘The Dowager of Bees’’, China Miéville (Three Moments of an Explosion)
‘‘Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers’’, Alyssa Wong (Nightmare 10/15) Reviewed here.