…Ian James has been able to capture very diverse cultures (human) in a handful of characters. From the conservative Texan to the desert nomad. From the educated European to a Chinese engineer to an American born native Farsi speaker. James delves into some fairly deep philosophy with nods to Heinlein and Orwell as well as undertones of Philip K. Dick while keeping the story moving and the science on point.
I am very happy I agreed to read Battle of Earth for review. You’d better believe I am looking forward to reading the next installments for pleasure.
The book is only 99¢, and you can read it on any device, or even get a paper copy. See what all the fuss is about here.
This also relates to a recent editorial in the New York Times, regarding cultural appropriation. I write books with characters from diverse cultures, mostly because I love Star Trek and am thoroughly bored with stories about white dudes. Different perspectives automatically make things more interesting; just ask Viktor Shklovsky.
I also believe, as someone who lives in a foreign culture, that the concept of culture itself is arbitrary.
Before I proceed, you have to put on your liberal arts degree hats. Ready? Onward!
To say that you are appropriating from someone’s culture, you have to define that culture first. This is far harder than it looks. If you try to find anything uniquely Korean, for instance, you immediately run into connections with other cultures. Hangul, the unique Korean alphabet, has obvious links with the alphabet I’m using to write these words right now (ㅂ for β, ㅍ for π, ㅅ for Δ; plus even more obvious links with Chinese (ㅊ and 天, plus the blocky nature of both written languages)). Traditional Korean clothing originated in Central Asia. The language itself is possibly related to Japanese or even Dravidian languages. Kimchi, the most Korean thing ever, has its etymological origins in China. Five hundred years ago, before the Columbian Exchange, kimchi wasn’t even spicy! Psy, the most Korean pop star ever, could not exist without American pop music. Genetically, the people are all related to their geographic neighbors.
Everything is mixed. You can’t pull one thread from the tapestry of humanity without yanking out a thousand others at the same time.
That being said, fuck anyone who isn’t Native American for dressing up as a Native American on Halloween. This is a bit double-thinky, I know, but how could anyone possibly view such behavior in a positive light? When you appropriate, I think you get everything you deserve if you don’t do so in an informed and respectful manner. But who knows, I may wind up eating my words. There’s a reason comments aren’t allowed on this blog—and why I don’t really use twitter. Life is difficult enough without having netizens telling me to kill myself.