Dear Western Writers of My Generation,
I’ve been reading Anil Menon’s The Beast with Nine Billion Feet (see here and here). It’s the intellectual SF adventure novel I would write if I had an encyclopedic brain and no day job, and an IQ that was at least 20 points higher. It’s both deliriously engaging and an exercise in sadomasochism (for the writer as reader). I don’t have enough years left to gather that much knowledge and synthesize it on the page and entertain readers at the same time. So I’m giving up–Anil has defeated me and, probably, a whole generation of writers. We need to stop his book from being published in the US now. Join me in my efforts at www.corralmenon.org. If we can keep him locked down on the subcontinent then generations of weaker minded western writers like me will have a chance.
Your’s in defeat,
P.S. Seriously, if you think there’s no market for jam packed smarty pants SF for young and adult readers, get your hands on a copy. Publishers will have a hell of a time categorizing it (they already have in India, where it’s tagged “young reader”–but it’s no more young reader than LeGuin’s “YA” work. It’ll either wither in obscurity or, my bet, grow a long spidery set of legs.) I read Vandana Singh (her speculative fiction and other stories) and she shows me unique paths to tread. Then I add Anil Menon to the mix and the paths fork. We really need more SF writers of non-western origin who can write for multicultural audiences to provoke our expectations as readers and show us new ways to grow as writers (and, in my case, remove self-imposed limits). In the past, I’ve said a lot of nice things about Vandana’s work–partially out of encouragement, but mostly out of admiration born from exposure to new insights (or remembrance of insights I’d buried to properly mold my thinking). But never out of reverence. Not till she’s at least 90 and still churning out short stories, novellas, and someday the novel.