What makes a literary “canon”? It all comes down to the attention we pay to certain texts over others. The selections we make, based on what inspired us, and what puts us best in mind of a feeling of literary community.
I know all about “canon” from my training as a 19th-Century Victorian lit scholar. I know that the project of “canon-building” can be dangerous: that it can stand for empire and colonialism, and be used as a tacit, “safer” means of delineating who “belongs” and who “doesn’t” to a community.
I know all about “canon”, too, from being an avid reader of science-fiction history. I know that “science fiction” was crafted as a highly selective genre category in the 20th century, where early magazines illustrate how much it served to advance ideas of U.S. exceptionalism through technological and ideological might.
I also know that this was never the whole story of “science fiction”, though. I know that speculative fiction, as a category of human expression, has existed throughout written record; and that we have always been experimenting with ideas about better-society-building through it.
Sí, Hay Futuros is not seeking to reinvent the wheel, so much as to return to the longer tradition of speculative fiction that so much anglo-Western-centred SF&F discourse forgets.
This is why my current plan is the development of a press with a three-pronged focus on the past, the present, and the future. How will this be achieved? Well, by:
1) publishing future-focussed speculative fiction in 2+ languages, with an interest in growing pathways for Indigenous inclusion that best suit the storytelling structure of oral-narrative communities (see: future essays reflecting on storytellers doing this work well);
2) running children’s writing workshops in local, underserved barrios and producing annual anthologies of their writing, with all proceeds going to them and their communities, so as to grow the next generation of writers/thinkers/innovators (and if nothing else, to increase Spanish, English, and digital literacy among a population that often doesn’t get to go to school); and
3) paying for literary criticism to run alongside each publication’s stories, to immediately root anything my authors produce within a larger, sturdier cultural context and history.
These last two components are where I think Sí, Hay Futuros Ediciones will stand out from a range of other, wonderful publications also advancing international SF&F (see: future essay in which I name and explore the work of many of them).
Granted, the second component will take a lot of time, and a great deal of collaboration to do well, but when I have a stable path to residency I am going to take up a few folks with municipal connections on their offers of facilitation, and start laying the groundwork for being an ethical and collaborative presence in many barrios where promises rarely yield meaningful longterm change.
(I tried to do this before, in 2019, but going solo as a feminized person into a particularly hard-hit community had some adverse consequences: not just for me, but also for the children who were starting to see me as a routine presence in their collectives. Being tethered to a difficult job on an ultimately doomed path to residency didn’t give me time for restorative practice after some difficult scenarios emerged, but it’s all part of the learning process. I will not make this mistake again, which is why I will not launch a kickstarter or Patreon for this project until I have stability. I need to make sure that I can take the time to develop this project properly on the streets.)
As for the third component, I want to normalize “paying literary analysts” the same way that “budgeting to pay translators” is currently being normalized in anglo-Western SF&F. We don’t do much criticism now, that is, but if done properly, it can immediately instill pride in a new, aspiring local storyteller, to see how their writing belongs to (and is advancing!) a conversation much larger than themselves. Analysis can also create a vocabulary of inclusion that emboldens readers and other writers to see how their cultures are absolutely part of a vital, global conversation.
I want to publish local SF&F in such a way, that is, that it can’t be seen as a set of one-off exceptions to a larger Western rule, but rather, as part of the rule in a distinct speculative-fiction context.
And so, Sí, Hay Futuros… but there’s a lot to be done in the present to make them accessible.
Thanks for reading about the dream, and for following along in my dreaming over the next few months (and years!), if you so choose.
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