2 thoughts on “Saturday, February 18, 2023

  1. Hi Catalina,

    Thanks for taking an interest in “Trib”. (see Comments for 17/02/23). Looks like I missed the deadline today!

    I haven’t read much sci-fi or spec fic. Crime is my thing. We read “1984” in school, for Eng Lit, when I was 14, I think. I read “Brave New World” because I read everything by Aldous Huxley. Apart from Philip K. Dick (who often combines crime with sci-fi) and Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale”, and Emily St. John Mandel’s “Station Eleven” (which I found disappointing), I’ve read hardly anything else in this type of fiction. So, I’m not familiar with Indigenous/Dystopia novels. I googled it and came across a 264-page dissertation (PDF downloadable for free) by Mary Irene Morrison called “Decolonizing Utopia: Indigenous Knowledge and Dystopian Speculative Fiction”, which I will look at.

    Consciously and subconsciously, my fictional “A-” has aspects of Franco’s Spain (which is how I was born British), Castro’s Cuba, Putin’s Russia, and Afewerki’s Eritrea. I’ve learnt a fair bit about the last over the years through helping an Eritrean activist draft and proofread documents about human rights abuses in Eritrea and sometimes trying to prevent the deportation of undocumented Eritrean refugees. The fact that returning to a country where it is an offence to leave (you would be shot at) unless you are extremely wealthy (69% of the population lives below the poverty line; 350,000 are starving) and therefore you would be imprisoned, tortured and very likely killed if the British govt sends you back, doesn’t seem to impress the immigration authorities, though my friend has managed to prevent several deportations, sometimes only hours before a refugee is put on the plane back. She herself was interrogated and tortured before her exile/escape to England. Her face is partially paralysed because of it. As well as being an activist she is a wife and mother and daughter. Her father is still over there. Every once in a while, here in England, Afewerki’s agents try to run her over. If saints exist in human form, she’s one.

    Allegra’s father disappeared in the same way as my grandfather, and for the same reason: refusal to salute a (fascist) flag. I’ve written about it elsewhere on OTP. I write about it a lot.

    In “A-”, it’s basically the haves vs the have-nots, a tiny elite controlling the majority by keeping them poor in a literal sense and also controlling the language and the information, which is much easier to do post-Internet, but they still have TV technology, and printing presses, so it’s hard to oppress the presses, so to speak. Religion is banned outright except for the cult of the emperor. The name Tribulatis is entirely made up; a google search will not yield anyone by that name (I hope!) but Allegra’s father was called Silbers which is Jewish. But there is no such thing as a Jew in A-, so how can this be? Everyone has a surname, and every name, every word means something, so the authorities of my dystopia have set themselves a Sisyphean task of dis- and mis- information.

    How I do prattle on…And it’s only a short story…

    Needless to say, I sympathise with your anger at the idiot who anonymously criticised a rather fine poem.

    1. Leo, I was also disappointed with Station Eleven, though I don’t know exactly why. An interesting premise, some clever POV shifts, good writing, but in the end… meh.

      Two pieces of dystopian fiction that get some praise (but not enough, IMO) are Walter Miller’s “A Canticle for Leibowitz” and Robert Hugh Benson’s “Lord of the World.” The latter is especially good, published in 1907 yet calling out some actual future events with fairly precise dates. The wordplay and subtext in Miller’s book is particularly well done.

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