Charles Tan describes how he attempts to compensate for hidden bias while curating science fiction links.

…As of mid-April of this year (if you examine the archive of SF Signal Tidbits, you can identify the trend), there was a conscious decision (arbitrary just means unconscious bias) on which author interview was at the top of the Tidbits.

I’ll be frank. There’s a lot of causes that need championing: World SF. People of Color. LGBT. Women. Gender. YA. If it were up to me, I’d post a book cover of a World SF book every day. But that’s not possible on a consistent basis (either there’s not enough interviews going around or their book isn’t listed on Amazon); it’s probably a valid criticism that I’m probably not looking hard enough. So I went with a criteria that’s broad enough: women.

Admittedly, there are days when I can’t find interviews with women in the field, but that’s the exception rather than the norm (if you want stats, just look at the archives of Tidbits starting mid-April that’s attributed to me; or better yet, compare it when I wasn’t deliberate in my selection). Failing that, I try my other criteria, such as World SF, people of color, LGBT authors, etc…

And that’s exactly what I’ve been trying to do here (though I haven’t had a lot of time for Tumblr lately)—filtering through geek stuff for POC authors or fans or characters, especially for things related to race issues in fandom. I have to admit, when I started this blog I thought it was going to be hard finding things to post, I guess because generally geeky sites tend to be overwhelmingly white. But there’s actually more stuff than I can keep up with!

I don’t think it’s so much that there’s more POC sf stuff now—though there are a lot of up-and-coming authors lately, like N. K. Jemisin, Nnedi Okorafor, Charles Yu, Malinda Lo, Saladin Ahmed, etc.—as that I have biases like everyone else, and I just had to start actively working to notice things I unconsciously would overlook.

Also I totally didn’t notice Charles Tan’s putting women authors first until he mentioned it, but you better believe I see it now when looking through the links.

Via the World SF Blog, here’s a new initiative to, once a year, send an “international person”* to a major genre event.

This year the goal is to send Charles Tan from the Philippines to World Fantasy Con in San Diego. He’s a perfect choice—he enthusiastically promotes and edits Philippine sf, and his daily news roundups for SF Signal are an absolute must-read for anyone who wants to keep up-to-date on the world of speculative fiction.

(I can think of lots of other great candidates and it would be awesome if they had oodles of money to send them all to cons and help make the genre less insular, which is all the more reason to promote the Travel Fund I guess.)

Please spread the word, donate, or offer your skills and ideas to the Board!

* I’m guessing they mean outside North America? Or outside the North American/British/Australian-dominated sphere of English-language sf?

While there is much to be praised when it comes to the cultural value and authenticity of the book, what really excites me is how this is compelling and exciting writing. In the first few pages, Lord immediately catches your attention, and she does this through judicial use of flash forwards (an underused technique) and flashbacks (it’s also worth mentioning at how in the latter part of the book, the author eschews these technique as it’s no longer necessary to hook the reader). There is the slow build-up of the cast and what seemed like a small and private party quickly spirals into a huge gathering of major and minor characters who surprisingly retain their significance from start to end. It’s impressive at how the narrator lies and attempts to deceive the reader yet Lord makes it work: for example, the ending professes to be didactic but the author actually holds back some crucial information and leaves hints for readers to figure out (the epilogue, for example, is the closest thing to hitting the reader with the book, but is presented in such a way that’s still restrained). Lastly, there is the juggling act of writing a story with depth and including humor that doesn’t draw attention to itself.

One of my biggest frustrations is that it’s difficult to track down—or even record—Philippine Speculative Fiction. It’s not just the print aspect (where periodicals have print runs of a few hundred and distributed in obscure venues) but even online publications are susceptible—even my old archives are irrelevant now as Geocities has closed down (taking with it a few important sites) as well as various magazines (which have either closed down themselves or transferred webhosts without re-archiving the old material).

Anyway, for the past two weeks, I’ve been trying to compile the bibliography of female Filipino speculative fiction writers. It’s incomplete. Not everyone writer is covered. It’s a work in progress and authors can help complete it by emailing me (charlesatan[at]gmail[dot]com with the subject “Bibliography”). (Male authors can also send me their bibliographies for a future archive.)