Thanksgiving with both eyes on the future and my feet in the present.
– Samuel Collins’ 2012 entry on alternate futures is relevant today because, on the verge of a global catastrophe, we need to keep imagining alternate versions of reality not only in fiction but also in practical issues like Dr. Jonathan Jae-an Crisman’s imminent speculation concept (https://urbanculturalstudies.wordpress.com/2019/10/14/reimagining-the-city-a-talk-by-dr-jonathan-jae-an-crisman/).
On a side note, while I was unable to find for you an electronic version of The Jaguar House, in Shadow referenced in Dr. Collins’ entry, I learned that the same author, Aliette de Bodard won a Nebula award for best novella. Here are some powerful words from her (you can visit her website and blog here: https://aliettedebodard.com/):
“The truth, of course, is that writing matters. It is frivolous, it is self-indulgent, but it is also necessary. It is breathing space and act of resistance and escapism on my own terms. Stories shaped me as a child and continue to shape me as an adult. And it is a great and potent reminder of how far this particular one has gone to be accepting this award, now.”
Tlatelolco Marketplace, Wikimedia, Joe Ravi, Creative Commons License CC-BY-SA 3.0
There’s an interesting piece in this year’s Nebula Awards Showcase, a lively short story about an alternative future premised on Aztec culture, “The Jaguar House, in Shadow,” by Aliette de Bodard. One of the biggest challenges to those of us trying to imagine and evoke alternative futures is precisely what animates de Bodard’s story: can we come up with futures that aren’t already colonized by Western modernity? As she writes (185):
“Part of the challenge (and what had frustrated me with the earlier attempt) is making sure that “modern” doesn’t end up equating “twentieth-century Western culture”; and equally making sure that the Aztec culture doesn’t turn out to be an ossified version of what the conquistadors saw.”
De Bodard struggles with this premise, ultimately sketching a future Tenochtitlan that is at turns archaeological speculation and Aztec steampunk. Maglev stations, nanotechnology…
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