Neglected Cultures

I recently read an article over at SF Signal, you can find it here.

The gist is that some cultures are seemingly neglected in fantasy and science fiction. Most books tend to revolve around Western European societal structures and some people are simply wondering why? It probably is because when most people thing dragons and the like, they immediately go to King Arthur style settings. Why this is? I have no idea, but the answer isn’t going to be straight forward or easy.

Many different cultures have intriguing lore and settings that offer just as powerful and entertaining settings. But considering the troupe and tradition of our medieval settings, can a story be written in a non-traditional setting and still have a resounding impact? Before you answer yes, I ask you to consider the examples. The best that comes to mind is The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi. There are other examples, but I’m going with Paolo’s because I’ve read his book and it was amazing. The book takes place in Thailand, post climate change Earth, and with genetic engineered food stores.

The book was awesome, it made you think or at least question the potential of genetic modifications in the reasonably distant future. But the point, it was nice to read something outside of the normal class and society structures. Had the book not been well written and executed, would there have been a serious disconnect because of this? Are we too saturated in our comfort to really branch out and experience other cultures in our reading diets?


What do you think? Are other cultures neglected in published works? Are we to familiar with Westernized ideas to fully dive in another culture when reading?


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2 thoughts on “Neglected Cultures

  1. taureanw says:

    Sadly I think in order to reach a mainstream audience it would need to be the traditional western-centric type story. With that said I really do believe that fantasy readers are more apt to try something different, so out of all the genres that is the one that has the best chance of success in regards to something new.

  2. Alaric Rays says:

    I think on the whole, there are some cultures that are definitely overlooked, but every once in awhile you will find a book set up slightly different. They very rarely get the acclaim that they deserve though, because as taureanw pointed out, it doesn’t appeal to the mainstream audience. One fantasy series that comes to mind for me is a series by Curt Benjamin’s Seven Brothers series. It is set more to an Asian beat than the traditional fantasy book. There is a lot of buggery in it, however. So I mean, as long as that doesn’t bother you they are a pretty good series.

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