Tag Archives: caribbean

15 May

I was recently invoked by The Abyss and Apex, and would like to talk to you about me, dialect, and Caribbean stories

I realize I’ve never talked that often about including dialect in my own fiction right here on this blog. Certainly in panels, and in interviews, and in passing. But I’ve never sat down and done a big post about it.

It was one of the hardest things about writing my first novel, Crystal Rain.


Me and my dialect

In 2004, when working on the first draft, ten years ago now, I was nine years away from living daily on the islands. The words were all still with me. A mix of dialect picked up from Grenada, the British Virgin Islands, and the US Virgin Islands. And also a friend from Anguilla.

Mind you, as much as dialect was always around me, I was a semi-participant. I am a confusing individual. My father is Grenadian, my mother, British. I lived, for many of my years, aboard a boat. So even when growing up in the Caribbean, I often was isolated.

In Grenada, with some friends I would have an accent. With my mom, on the boat, I had an accent as well: received pronunciation, with some New Zealand (my mom grew up in England and New Zealand). With some friends I had that accent. To be honest, from learning how to speak to age 9, I never thought too much about it.

Hanging out with friends in the BVI I would slip into the dialect around me. That was usually happily accepted by my friends, but people would occasionally report back to mother (I saw your son today, I couldn’t understand a word he was saying) or upbraid me for not ‘speaking correctly.’ On the other side, some people in the BVI would give me grief for trying to talk like them.

When I moved to the USVI, I began to switch over to a somewhat mid-Atlantic American accent (I still struggle to pronounce France or aunt with a hard ‘aaaa’). Some friends would get the brunt of my Tortola-learned accent. But no matter what I spoke, many friends had dialects.

In the meantime, I was also learning Spanish pronunciation as well, from my neighbors.

Even to my friends in the USVI, I know that even when I had a slight accent they weren’t hearing it, but my college room mate was doing home work while I was on the phone to a friend back in the islands once, and by the end of the call he had stopped working and started staring at me. “Okay, now I really believe that’s where you came from,” he told me.

So in my head, I don’t know what I should sound like. But in 2004, I knew what I missed hearing: dialect. And I knew what I wanted to try to put to paper. Particularly as each year put me further and further away from the islands I missed and grew up in.


Writing dialect

But I had a few examples that inspired me. Literary fiction, Dickens and Twain, and a little bit of James Herriot.

I was told, in workshops and when reading books about how to write, over and over again that dialect was to be avoided.

But Dickens and Twain and a little bit of James Herriot, no?

In the Caribbean, I wasn’t given a lot of Caribbean dialect. Teachers there gave me canon, mainly.

But Dickens and Twain and a little bit of James Herriot, no?

And what about Clockwork Orange?

And what about…

I read an article where Dante was asked why he wrote in Italian instead of Latin. This when Italian was still called a dialect, a lower version of Latin. And he had a defense. And so did Chaucer for writing in English. And the more I delved into my English major, the more it seemed that, well, language is a big world.

People still used Shakespeare, which read differently to us now. That involved an old dialect that required me to work hard to get through it.


Writing Crystal Rain

As I wrote Crystal Rain, I did my best to bring in some of the rhythms and sound I grew up with. I knew in some ways I was trying to reinvent the wheel, and in some ways failing. Art is so imperfect, and filled with tough choices.

I tested out whole lengthy sections using spellings that replicated what I’d heard for dialect, phonetic spelling, new combinations. And I tested out ways where I used the words as they were, kind of, intended without the accent in the spelling. I tinkered, and tested, and played, and eventually settled on a system very similar to what Shakirah of Get Write covers here:

I attended a workshop were one facilitator was adamant that we should never “bastardise the English”, that is, spell the word how it is pronounced. She didn’t believe that we should use “tuh” for to, “yuh” for you, “de” for the, etc etc. She believed that if it sounded the same in Standard English, there was no need to change the spelling. Another facilitator was an advocate for writing dialect as it is spoken, because he believed that was the only way to make a true representation of the language, for example, “wunna” for you all, “wha” instead of what.

They both made good points.

I personally find it difficult to read full blocks of dialect, simply because there is no standard spelling, and we are taught to read in Standard English. I find it difficult to read newspaper columns written in full dialect like Cou-Cou and Flying Fish – it gives me a headache.

So, I made a compromise between the two. I rarely change the spelling of words that sound the same in Standard English, for example “de” for the, but then I also try to capture the rhythm of the language in how my sentences are structured. So a Barbadian person would read it and naturally hear the accent, and a foreigner would hopefully be able to hear that voice as well, but still be able to easily read the language.

That last paragraph is basically my approach. Trying to create something that allows both my readerships to plug in, with my Caribbean readers ‘getting’ an accent that I’m hinting at.

I don’t always succeed for either side, I’ve had some Caribbean readers feel I missed the mark. I’ve had non-Caribbean readers complain I make things too hard (they should see the drafts I first created).

I came to this decision after almost two years of playing with drafts of Crystal Rain, and folded it into my general approach. But let me tell you, it was not made lightly or easily, nor am I fully convinced I got it perfect. It was the best, and is the best, that I can do. It works with me, my fiction, and the stories I’m trying to tell. It’s one way of doing it.

In some ways, I know using any dialect lost me readers. I know it’s made it harder to sell books (I know this particularly for translation sales, I’ve had some very honest discussions with people who’ve read the books overseas but say they can’t buy them to translate because of the dialect). I know in some ways, I’m not quite capturing the Caribbean just so. It’s an imperfect piece of art…

…but it’s *my* imperfect piece of art. I made all the decisions in Crystal Rain, for better or worse. I made the calls. I bear all the responsibility. And even though it was hard to sell, I’ve made a career on the books and my mission of adventure and characters from varying backgrounds. I wanted to see a book *just like this* exist, and now it does. And the proudest moments of my life have been reading these books on Caribbean soil to Caribbean readers, and talking to readers of diverse backgrounds who saw what I was doing and got in the game.


On Being Invoked

It became important to write all this because recently my name was invoked in an article titled ‘Authentic Voice, or Clarity?’ at The Abyss & Apex.

…1) the author they acquired a story from, Celeste Baker, is someone I’ve read before and so recognized the name. She has two previous Caribbean stories with fantastic elements in them.

The first one is from the Caribbean Literary magazine Calabash, based out of NYC, Jumbie from Bordeaux (and if you’re from the Caribbean you can see the fantastic right in the title). A snippet:

I strut off to find everybody, hands in me pockets like a big man. Plantation quiet quiet. Even though I don’t like to get up, I like de morning cause de air smell like it just bathe. We high up from de sea but when de morning breeze blow it bring de sea smell.

More recently, Celeste also published a story that I linked to on twitter called Single Entry in Moko Magazine:

Carnival time come, and I a single entry. I not in any troup or nothing. I just parading in me costume, all by meself. Everybody asking me what song dat is and where me music coming from. I tell dem I write de song, which is true, and it coming from a iPod and dese little speakers ringing me North and South Poles, which not true. I projecting de song from me core, but dey ain’t need to know dat.

So, I hope a few more people read Celeste’s stories and get to see what she’s doing with dialect there. I really dug it, I hope she continues writing more and that she contributes more to our field.

My next reaction is to this phrase in the editorial:

We looked to Grenadian author Tobias S. Buckell (Crystal Rain, Ragamuffin, Sly Mongoose) as an example of an author who used authentic island patois without overwhelming the story to the point where he alienated a large portion of his non-Caribbean readers.

2) I am *an* example. That’s it. *An.* And an imperfect one at that. I hope I’ve made that clear via my history, my explanations above, and showing you my compromises.

Because the way I do it is not the only way, nor is it the right way, or the best way, or more commercial way. It’s just my middling negotiation with my art and my career and my own path.

If there’s one thing I hope to get out of this, is that I don’t want to see myself invoked as the ‘safe’ or ‘smart’ or ‘best’ way to be any kind of Caribbean writer. I’m *one* path and that’s it. It was only because other people took risks and departed from the usual paths that I had the courage to do what I did. I hope to show the same. If I’m held up like this, it subverts that.

Please do not hold me up in this way. For one, it is dangerous to other writers seeking to find their voices. It’s dangerous to me, as you sell me out as a brick in the wall. And it adds to a potentially dangerous view that there is a proper way to do dialect at all. I’m one way, and I’m always flattered and humbled when I’m held up as an example. But only that. *An* example.

Please, please do not ever use me as an excuse to change dialect or the way someone speaks. I’m a suggestion. A possibility. A way.

And that is it. That is all I can say for myself.


Is dialect too much for science fiction readers?

My first reaction is always back to Junot Diaz:

“Motherfuckers will read a book that’s one third Elvish, but put two sentences in Spanish and they [white people] think we’re taking over.”

But also, are science fiction readers now fragile, trembling people with such delicate sensitivities that some dialect is going to ruin them? Mainstream readers are completely able to handle this. As assistant editor Tonya Liburd, herself of Trini background, ably points out, mainstream readers today currently are able to handle Irvine Welsh’s Trainspotting.

Here’s Trainspotting, which is written in Scottish dialect:

Trainspotting

That’s entirely a valid choice. And in now way does it invalidate the novel in question, nor has it hurt the novel’s accessibility or readership.

So if mainstream readers can read that, are science fiction readers somehow less courageous? Less literate?

To be honest, I think that’s a bit unfair to science fiction readers. Probably, it would be best to let them decide.


Back to this editorial

So back to this Abyss and Apex article, which people keep asking me about.

The assistant editor, Tonya, who is Caribbean, has editorialized her experience of trying to birth a story from a writer of Caribbean and trying to navigate Wendy’s confusion with the accent. There are some interesting exchanges in the narrative here:

I found myself completely code-switching when I had to talk to Wendy while reading the submitted story for inconsistencies and nitpicks. But we got it done. And then this controversy arose.

I talked to Wendy about the point well made with Shakirah Bourne’s GetWrite article “On Dialect – How Caribbean people supposed tuh talk in a story, eh?”

Wendy then promptly mentioned the example of George MacDonald, which she goes into detail in her section, above.

So the chief editor put on the brakes with this example of a Scottish novel from 1900, 114 years ago, to demonstrate that making the dialect ‘more accessible’ helped the novel sell more copies than when it first came out.

This is a horrible example, because this happened 114 years ago. At the height of a time when dialects were looked down upon, nay, even suppressed. But the more recent example of Trainspotting is ignored when Tonya points to an article that references it.

That’s… pretty awkward.

Tonya didn’t initially want to be included in the editorial. Again, the awkwardness comes across here:

She started talking about a judicious use of spice in food as an analogy for accents; I said, “But then spice is seen as an ethnic thing isn’t it?” So again…

Then Wendy got frustrated. “I’m feeling like a failure (about handling accents and racial issues).”

I said, “Yer not a failure! Why are you feeling like that?”

“Because I don’t seem to be quite getting the cultural context of what you’re saying.”

So, I wasn’t a fly on the wall when this happened. But if Tonya is representing this exchange fairly, it’s another extremely awkward moment. Because I believe the focus is all wrong. This isn’t about Wendy. This is about the story, and the dialect. Can it work, is it worth the (possible, but I think entirely surmountable based on Trainspotting’s success) ‘challenge’ of the dialect? Are they committed to publishing the piece, yes or no? Instead, Wendy is upset because she feels like a ‘failure’ but that’s not the point of all this.

Some people refer to this as White Womens Tears phenomena, when a white woman gets uncomfortable and begins to get upset about a tricky situation (or outright racism).

Please do not read this as me calling Wendy racist. I’ve only met her a few times and barely know her. The Abyss and Apex folk, as far as I can tell, have been cool cats about building up some careers of writers of color and international voices. However, the tactic of getting frustrated and making it all about your pain, and your feelings when trying to get through a complicated conversation like the above: that’s not fair to the work or the person of color trying to educate you.

But to be honest, I wouldn’t have fixated on it, if it weren’t for Wendy’s introduction:

Would you accuse me, a woman with the maiden name of Campbell, of “racism” because she found the thick, authentic Scottish accents in the original novel obscured the story? Then let’s not complain that a reviewer felt that over-using phonetic dialect in a story was, in her opinion, a flaw.

So, there are two things being conflated here. Wendy is trying to pre-empt accusations of being a racist for asking the story have the dialect watered down, and she’s trying to defend a reviewer at Strange Horizons who was recently taken to task for being dismissive of dialect.

So now we’re looking at a mess of an editorial that really isn’t an editorial, really, but a defense against being called racist and a defense of that other review.

Make of that what you will. Mostly I feel very awkward for Tonya getting caught in the middle and being asked to change the story. She seems to have tried to do her best in an awkward situation. I’d hate to see Tonya take heat, as far as I know she’s the only Caribbean assistant editor in the field. I also am curious to see how the author felt about all this, and whether this was a positive experience or as awkward as it looked. The power differential for both Tonya and the author is unbalanced, as the author is trying to get published and make the sale, and Tonya trying to be an assistant editor.

Mostly I see a train wreck that could have been avoided by focusing on making the story be the best it could be, and not focusing on whether it was ‘accessible.’ Abyss and Apex, after all, publishes poetry, which is often not ‘accessible’ and requires work to be read. Sometimes art is a little challenging. And that’s okay. We don’t need to buff out the diamond’s edges for it to be worth something. We need to cut it to let it shine.

And those are my thoughts.

15 Sep

Windstream solar/wind hybrid mills looking to get into Jamaica

An interesting vertical wind turbine and solar power unit that’s intriguing gets coverage in the Jamaica Gleaner due to some support and interest it is getting in Jamaica.

It seems to be $3,000 a unit:

“‘One of the cries from Jamaicans is the need for alternatives, and the SolarMill goes and takes the solar installation one step further, because when the sun is not out the wind is still blowing. So it really gives you more power for your dollar,’ she asserted.

Tomblin said this product was a distinct solution for the market and customers were already asking for it.

President of WindStream Technologies, Daniel Bates, said the SolarMill would provide a viable option to complement energy needs in the country, adding that it could be utilised by residential and commercial customers.”

(Via JPS goes solar – Energy provider to market hybrid power generators – Lead Stories – Jamaica Gleaner – Saturday | September 14, 2013.)

I perused the PDF documents pretty quickly. It looks like you’d need 3-4 of these to cover a household, but the wind/solar combo is intriguing in that it allows you to continue making power at night.

Is it cost effective, though, compared to just going all solar and tying into the grid? I can’t quite see from the info provided. But for a non-grid situation, or rural Jamaica with low-power needs and varying power availability (and given high island Caribbean power costs due to most power being made with imported fuel), coupled with a payment plan, items like this could gain some traction. I’d still want to see more info.

Incidentally, Windstream’s site is everything I hate about many kit-oriented alternative energy sellers. It does everything it can to avoid telling you the cost. In this day and age, people should be able to get on, see what it costs, click, and buy. End of story. If you’re honestly invested in, as the site claims, ECOnomical Energy (heh), then stop being dodgy on your costs. If SpaceX can be upfront about space launch costs, you can be about power generators.

Unless you’re charging some customers more than others who want flagship ‘look at us, we’re ECOnscious!’ like the touted embassies on their page.

12 Sep

Onlinefilm to stream free Caribbean films this Sunday Sep. 15th

This is cool:

“Courtesy of our friends at CaribbeanTales-TV - a partnership between VOD platform Onlinefilm and CaribbeanTales, a Canadian-based production/distribution company. 

The aim with this collaboration is to provide an online space for Caribbean films, accessible to audiences worldwide - a web portal that’s controlled by filmmakers.

This Sunday (and the next, September 15), audiences are invited to watch FOR FREE, 24 hours of streaming of Caribbean films on the website.I counted a total of 18 films available – some of them you might be familiar with, given that we’ve covered them on this site, like: Menelik Shabazz’s The Story Of Lover’s Rock, Frances-Anne Solomon’s A Winter Tale and Nicholas Attin’s Little Boy Blue.”

(Via Enjoy 24 Hours Of FREE Streaming Of Caribbean Films This Sunday (Details) | Shadow and Act.)

22 Jul

Hollick Arvon Caribbean Writers Prize is open for submissions

Writers in the Caribbean:

“The Hollick Arvon Caribbean Writers Prize is an annual award which allows an emerging Caribbean writer living and working in the Anglophone Caribbean to devote time to advancing or finishing a literary work, with support from an established writer as mentor. It is sponsored by the Hollick Family Charitable Trust and the literary charitable trust Arvon, in association with the non-profit organisation the Bocas Lit Fest.”

(Via Hollick Arvon Caribbean Writers Prize.)

20 Mar

Good stuff: yesterday I saw Junot Diaz speak at OSU

Last night I went to see Junot Diaz speak at Ohio State University, and briefly hang out with C.C. Finlay and Rae Carson afterwards. A lot of resonance for me when he talked about the nature of diasporic writing. I mentioned to Charlie that although I read a lot when I was in the Caribbean, although my identity is bound up in being someone who thinks of himself as Caribbean and who now lives in another country, I didn’t read many diasporic writers growing up. Limited library access, my interest in genre and limited funds, and teachers who chose western canonical works, meant that I didn’t have access to a good library system until college.

By then I was beginning to break in and write my own stuff.

So to hear other writers thinking about identification and diaspora is thirsty man in the desert stuff for me.

I was also enjoying how familiar and practiced Junot was in front of a large audience. Since 2008 I’ve not been in front of audiences as much, because I can’t afford to front for my own travel. I enjoy Q&A, interaction, and reading. Less so prepared comments. Junot built that into this major presentation, and I’ve been trying to move toward that sort of environment for readings. Seeing someone do it well heartens me. I will be trying to weight readings/appearances in that natural direction in the future. Some very short readings with punch, a little bit of exposition about the nature of what’s being read, and lots of interaction with audience. It felt genuine, warm, and the time passed all too soon.

08 Nov

OCM Bocas Caribbean Lit Prize

Nicholas Laughlin of the Caribbean Review of Books just forwarded me details about the OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature:

The Caribbean’s rich literary heritage — in multiple languages — has made a contribution to world culture well out of proportion to the region’s small size. We have produced winners of many literary awards, including three Nobel laureates — Saint-John Perse (1960), Derek Walcott (1992), and V.S. Naipaul (2001). But until now there has been no indigenous Caribbean literary award, organised and judged by Caribbean people, of genuinely international scope.

01 Aug

What does it mean to be this Caribbean writer?

I hope it’s no secret to many reading here that I don’t consider myself wholly white. Some of you reading since 1998 may know a thing or two about me, but since I’ve become published in novel form more people are coming to the blog and reading and finding out about me online and express confusion about this point.

A number of people have emailed me or stopped me to ask me “what does ‘caribbean-born’ mean?” and others are curious as to why I constantly point out things about diversity in SF. What they may not know is what others around me know: I consider myself multi-racial.

I jokingly have been called ‘an undercover brother.’ Vin Diesel calls people like me ‘shadow people,’ neither one race nor the either due to circumstances and self-identity, and considers himself one, yet another reason for my close attention to his career.

Things came to a head a couple days ago with a few emails challenging me to prove that I was actually multi-racial and not just a ‘poser’ who wanted the ‘advantages’ of being hip and multi-racial.

For some people, any attempt to identify in ways that they can’t control are troublesome.

One reason I’m private about my past family life is that I had a complicated family life and my biological parents are radically split for reasons that are none of anyone’s business except those I choose to share that story with. Growing up was not all fun and smiles on the beach, as people assume.

But I was born on the island of Grenada, West Indies, and is one of the two Caribbean islands that shape what I think of as home. Grenada, with it’s spice and colorful flowers and deep jungles and people, that is my first home. No matter how split my parents are, my cousins and aunts and uncles are all Grenadian and that is the blood that runs through my veins because of my father. I can’t deny or wish to change that, it’s simply who I am. And I’m proud to have been born there and lived there for the first nine years of my life.

People want to know something for sure, then it’s easy as clicking this link here, to see my father’s business still in Grenada. He’s the brown-skinned man in both the pictures at the bottom of the page. He’s my father that I haven’t seen or talked to in almost 20 years. Judge for yourself whether I’m multi-racial, fine.

Even better, here to the right is a crop of the one of the rare pictures I have of my Caribbean side of the family. My grandmother, two cousins and me (with my mother and father cropped out) standing on the tallest hill of Carriacou.

And yet, I’m one white looking dude. Genetics is wild. Some 7 different genes code for skin color, and when parents get together it’s a crapshoot. In this case, my sister got tan looking skin tone and I got fairly white. But that doesn’t change the fact that my father is who he is, as are my cousins and aunts and uncles. It doesn’t change the fact that I grew up playing cricket on Lance Aux Pines beach, that most of my friends until I came to Ohio were usually not white, and that I often spoke with a patois when I needed it, or a British accent if I chose. It doesn’t change that I played football, the one where you actually kick the ball, and that I had textbooks with a full complement of races in them, or that my obvious skin color meant I was the one who was not normal, but yet, I never had any trouble maintaining I was mixed until I moved to the US. My childhood was Caribbean in its nature, essence, and impact on me. Most people from the Caribbean understand where I come from (with some rare exceptions of some assholes near Grand Anse who would always yell ‘yankee go home’ at me), most grant me this without my having to fight for this. I should merely have to state it.

So, as for my identity: I’m Caribbean. An English mother and a Grenadian father. By blood, by birth, and by spending 15 and half years of my life in the islands, I can’t imagine calling myself anything else but.

Why not pass? The idea of passing is an interesting concept that tells me more about the person who asks that of me. The implicit assumption for many is that passing as white confers the easiest route, their astonishment at my not choosing that is a often an interesting hangup.

So what is up with two Caribbean Science Fiction novels? My fiction plays with a wide variety of people and genre tropes. I don’t write exclusively “Caribbean SF” but I am a Caribbean-born SF/F writer. But some of my stories are rich with the Caribbean.

Since I was in sixth grade I’d been drawing spaceships taking off from island harbors, rather than gantries. I even used some early island settings, but a lot of my early SF aped the SF I was reading: galactic empires, etc. But somewhere in ’98 when I was in college, I decided to really focus on becoming a writer. And part of that involved what I was going to write about.

I began to add pieces of Caribbean background to roughly a third of my stories. A character, a place, and certainly inspiration from island history and anecdotes. But I was nervous about using it, aware of the fact that by Caribbean readers I may be thought of as stealing the exotic for my fiction, and by other readers as some sort of fraud.

It was later in that year, however, that I sat down to write my story ‘The Fish Merchant,’ feeling that I wanted to bring together the things that I wanted to write into a short piece: one ‘Steppin’ Razor’ like badass (Pepper), a non-Caribbean but non-Western locale (China), adventure genre action, and a twist on a traditional SF trope (first contact).

When I finished my first piece that drew this all together, it was a heady rush: this was the sort of thing I wished I’d been able to have to read on the shelf. And yet, as I got accepted to the prestigious Clarion workshop on the story and started submitting it, I kept on writing more ‘vanilla SF.’ One because I didn’t want to risk screwing up another Caribbean inspired piece of SF, and another, because there was a growing feeling that I’d lost the Caribbean. A white looking Caribbean multi-racial expat, who grew up on a boat, both identifying with, but in many ways, living on the edge of, Caribbean society, who was I to write this stuff? I had a huge impostor syndrome issue. And I was still worried that even though I adored ‘Fish Merchant,’ others would not find it interesting as I did.

That changed at Clarion, when not only did many students enjoy the story, but I met two instructors who really encouraged me to take the instincts I had with ‘Fish Merchant’ and go further. Authors Tim Powers and Mike Resnick both felt that the story was something interesting and that played to my strengths. So did Scott Edelman when he visited Clarion, and it was he who later purchased the story for Sci Fi Age shortly after Clarion and gave me my first professional short story sale.

The confidence given me there led to many more stories being written over the next six years that drew my interests, backgrounds, and love of genre together:

The Fish Merchant -Science Fiction Age
In Orbite Medievali – Writers of The Future
Spurn Babylon – Whispers From The Cotton Tree Root
Trinkets – The Book of All Flesh
Death’s Dreadlocks – Mojo: Conjure Stories
In The Heart of Kalikuata – Men Writing SF As Women
Four Eyes – New Voices in Science Fiction
Necahual – So Long Been Dreaming: Postcolonial Science Fiction and Fantasy
Anakoinosis – I Alien
Toy Planes – Nature Magazine
The Silver Streak – Space Cadets
The Duel – Electric Velocipede #11
Manumission – Baen’s Universe (upcoming)

This represents about half of my bibliography (not including the two novels).

When it came time to write my first novel, Crystal Rain, I considered all the concepts and ideas I had, and the most compelling ones drew from many of the same sources as these stories above. As in Toy Planes, I felt that Caribbean people had a place in the future, and that if humanity were to populate the stars, that Caribbean people would immigrate in that great diaspora, and that they should have stories as well. And yet, even as there is the Caribbean take, the Caribbean’s proximity to the cultural West means that a great deal of my influences are still very much recognizable to anyone.

The reason I read genre fiction is entirely different than any other literature. I find the action, high concepts, and sense of wonder the amazing element that separates it from anything else I encounter. I like to think, secretly and to myself, that literature is the soul of humanity, its dreams. Feverish, bizarre, reflections of its processing what has happened to it so far, and figuring out how to store that, remember it, and experience it.

But the genre I work in is something different, it’s the imagination of humanity, its daydreams, its nightmares, its pleasant fantasies, it’s hopes and its inventions. It’s not like the other literatures. And I want people like me to look into the imagination of humanity and see people like himself looking back at him. I may not be perfect, but I am excited that it is something that I’ve been managing to publish and gain a readership for.

Hi, my name is Tobias Buckell, and I am Caribbean. And I’m an SF/F writer. I’m proud of both the genre I write in, and my identity.