Thursday, July 21, 2022

Top 10 21st-century fantasy novels

Scholar and editor Brian Attebery has won multiple awards for his work on fantasy and science fiction, mostly recently the World Fantasy Award for his longtime editorship of the Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts. In 2019 he was the Leverhulme Visiting Professor in fantasy at the University of Glasgow. One of his projects there was helping to launch a scholarly series from Bloombury Academic, Perspectives on Fantasy, which he edits along with Dimitra Fimi and Matthew Sanger. He is the author of Stories about Stories: Fantasy and the Remaking of Myth and Decoding Gender in Science Fiction, among other books, and co-editor with Ursula K. Le Guin and Karen Joy Fowler of the Norton Book of Science Fiction. As editor of Le Guin's work for the Library of America he is currently working on a volume of her short fiction.

Attebery's new book is Fantasy: How It Works.

At the Guardian he tagged ten of the best non-Eurocentric fantasy titles, works that "not only tell engaging stories set in vividly imagined worlds, they are also worth reading for the way their versions challenge our sense of the ordinary and the limits of the real." One title on the list:
Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor (2010)

Like much of Okorafor’s work, this novel draws on her experiences as the child of Nigerian immigrants, hearing stories and spending time with extended family in Africa. Protagonist Onyesonwu, whose name translated from Igbo provides the book’s title, is the child of rape, fitting into neither of two societies but inheriting powers from both sides of her parentage. In a switch from the conventional “chosen hero” narrative, Onyewonsu ends up rewriting the prophecies and remaking her world. In this and other science fantasies, Okorafor helped to invent a form she calls Africanfuturism, which has been embraced by readers and emulated by a talented new generation of African and diasporic writers including Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki and Khadija Abdalla Bajaber.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Who Fears Death is among Anneliese Mackintosh's seven dystopian novels about motherhood and Joel Cunningham's twenty sci-fi & fantasy books with a social justice message.

--Marshal Zeringue