Since I first read about it a few days ago I've been following the 'Save Pe'Sla' IndieGoGo campaign, honestly with very mixed feelings:

Donations and support messages keeps coming in, true, but where is the public outrage at people scrambling to buy land that was stolen from them in the first place?

Where are all the advocates of religious freedom?
Where are all those guys and gals who went out of the movie theaters after seeing 'Dances with Wolves' declaring loudly that 'It is a shame how they were treated' and 'If it were for me...'?
Where are all the armchair warriors for minority rights?
Where are all the film-makers and writers that made millions off Native history and culture?
Where are all those who go 'Oh, their way of life and beliefs are so great, they are SOOO connected to the Earth, you know, I admire them a lot'?

I've seen more than one crowdfunding campaign for a videogame get overfunded by more than one million dollars in a few days, is justice less important than a videogame?

If you can't do anything else, just spread the world, there is still time if everybody does a little something.

My auction for Pe'Sla is still going on, see the last 4 posts in my journal.
marina_bonomi: (facepalm)
I'll never understand why some US publishing houses feel the need to 'translate' British books into American English: just yesterday I bought Whispers Under Ground, the third book in Ben Aaronovitch 'Peter Grant' series, I found that 2 different editions were available in my country, the British one and thre American one, I sampled both to try to understand the differences in page lenght and other parameters, and found out that the US edition not only uses the US spelling, but also has gotten rid of all the Britishisms, so that, for instance, a donkey jacket has become a workman jacket.

Now, one of the things I love about English is its extreme versatility and the variety of its national and regional incarnations, British English isn't US English, isn't Canadian English, Indian or Ghanaian English, but each variation is understandable to speakers of the others (more or less easily, that's true).Chosing among the possibilities a good writer can individualize or regionalize his/her characters' speech (think of Tolkien, how English stands in for the common tongue in Lord of the Rings but how we don't need to be told if the speaker is an Hobbit, a Gondorian, a Rohir, an Elf or a Dwarf, their word choices, speech rythm and sentence patterns tell us).

Now, I wonder why a publishing house would think it is a good idea to make a PoC London Constable speak like an American, it may be a bit challenging to get the references, but, good grief, this was even the Kindle version, and Kindle has pre-loaded dictionaries and the ability to recognize the language one is reading in without having to preset the dictionary. How lazy do they think readers are? Or is it that they (or the readers) want to deal only with the familiar, with no element reminding them that this place is the real London, that we are in a different country and the setting isn't just a coat of varnish on some 'generic' US big city?

I don't get it.
Everyone has her or his pet pevees, I have a few of mine, often language related.

Recently I started bumping into the expression Eurocentric fantasy , it never fails to raise my hackles in 1 second flat. Why? Because it is shorthand for clicheed, sexist, ethnocentric, unimaginative, stale fantasy set in a world theoretically inspired by medieval Europe.

The fact is that there is very little of either medieval or European in those works. To me, an European weaned on mithology and sagas, they have the same relation to the real thing as a Mc Donald frankfurter has to the bratwurst I had in Koln last time I was there.

Let's see : women were oppressed and had no power at all (never mind that a woman's lot was far worse in the XIX century than it was, by and at large, in the XII), everybody was ignorant, only the clerics could read and they wanted to keep things as they were (never mind that universities were a medieval invention, where students were in charge and chose their teachers, also, most universities were of ecclesiastical origin), also everybody within a kingdom seems to be of the same ethnicity, speaks the same language and has a rather homogeneous mindset, thing that totally ignores the influence of such modern elements as a unified school system and television in spreading the official language and the dominant culture.

Moreover, everybody seems to live in a kingdom, monarchy is the default for this sort of fantasy, what about oligarchies of different stripes, what about city-states, what about dictatorships, for instance (do you know that dictatorship is an ancient form of governement and didn't have a negative connotation per se, right?)

If there is any research done before those books are written, it is based  on little more than divulgative books rehashing older texts and so called popular knowledge (aka things that get passed down and nobody bothers to check).
Let see for instance the case of the Norsemen: viking is almost a byword for 'barbarian with a lot of muscle and not much brain wielding an axe and wearing an horned helm'.
Well, there's a saying in France referring to the Normans (the people of Normandy, descendants of the Norsemen who settled there), it goes Normand, renard, Norman, fox. It was their cunning together with their ruthlessness they were famed for, the same cunning and political acumen that allowed them to get Normandy and conquer England, besides they built incredible ships and were great merchants .

And of course any Eurocentric fantasy has dwarves and elves. Folks, Europe has a lot of peoples in itself, each with their own traditions, legends and mythical creatures, from the domovoi to the anguana, from the lamia to the saliga and the salvani, and we have ancient history all around us, which in time turns to legend.

I live in a mid-sized town in a place that was inhabited since the Neolitic, our cavalry fought against Hannibal at Cannae. Later, roman buildings like our arena  became the matter of local legends.
The images of Charlemagne's paladins are sculpted on the portals of our churches and we still tell the legends of king Theoderic the Great   and sing of queen Rosamund .
A well known figure here is la Gran Contessa (born just a few kilometers away) and near my home is the fortress where Adelaide of Italy was held prisoner by her husband's murderer.

And this is just my small corner of Italy. In my country, besides a myriad dialects we have linguistic minorities speaking German, French, Occitan, Arbërisht and Griko each group with different habits, traditions, history, legends, a trasure trove for any writer looking for fresh materials and doing serious research, this in just a single country of old Europe.

Personally, I think of that kind of stale, tired fantasy clichè with an expression I got from [ profile] ysabetwordsmith , mcfantasyland, to me it conveys the idea of stale, bland and second-hand without slamming my background and cultural tradition, thank you

Link to a wonderful post I reached through[ profile] kateelliott that articulates this better than I can and sparked this rant of mine.



March 2013

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