So Long Been Dreaming: Postcolonial Science Fiction and Fantasy


270 pages
ISBN 1-55152-158-X
DDC 808.83'876





Edited by Nalo Hopkinson and Uppinder Mehan
Reviewed by Douglas Barbour

Douglas Barbour is a professor of English at the University of Alberta.
He is the author of Lyric/anti-lyric : Essays on Contemporary Poetry,
Breath Takes, and Fragmenting Body Etc.


Nalo Hopkinson and Uppinder Mehan met in Toronto, and the bright young
SF author found a fellow spirit in the bright young scholar of science
fiction; they shared an immigrant background, a sense that speculative
fiction can write back to the imperial designs of much science fiction,
especially from the United States, and a delight in ways that the
folklore of the Caribbean, Africa, Asia, and Aboriginals in all the
former European colonies can undermine the major meta-narratives of
European literatures. This led to their editing this anthology.

In So Long Been Dreaming (the title is taken from a comment by Harriet
Tubman), they have found a wide-ranging, provocative, and thoroughly
engaging set of stories that offer precisely what SF says it’s all
about: making strange, but making the usual strangeness of SF visions
itself strange via the unusual narrative viewpoint the stories adopt. As
Hopkinson says in her introduction: “I wanted to see what would happen
if we handed out massa’s tools and said, ‘Go on; let’s see what
you build.’”

What the various authors here have built, under such general section
titles as The Body, Future Earth, Allegory, Encounters with the Alien,
and Re-Imagining the Past, are stories that challenge biases and the
general SF reader’s sense of superior understanding. Some are satiric,
some generously comic, and some angrily tragic, but all manage to
suggest other ways of seeing the world, and some argue poignantly
against the still general SF convention (and conviction) that technology
always tends to work for the good.

The contributors come from many countries, but nine of the 19 live in
Canada, none known specifically as writers of genre science fiction or
fantasy. Wherever their authors live, all the stories in this anthology,
ranging as they do through science fiction, fantasy, and magic realism,
are of a particularly high quality. If this is what “post-colonial
science fiction and fantasy” can do, we should all be grateful and ask
for more.


“So Long Been Dreaming: Postcolonial Science Fiction and Fantasy,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 13, 2024,