Native sci-fi with “We want to see your leader!”

Native sci-fi with “We want to see your leader!””

Singular Works, the collection of Indigenous science fiction short stories We want to see your leader! features stories tackling classic themes of the genre – alien invasion, space travel or in time, creation of an artificial intelligence – but treated through the refreshing prism of First Nations realities. 

The original goal of author Drew Hayden Taylor, an Ojibway from Ontario, was “to bring together in an Indigenous science fiction anthology the best First Nations writers in Canada,” he notes in the book. first published in English by Douglas & McIntyre, in 2016, and available since the fall in French from Alire editions.

Not achieving his goals, he decided to carry out this proposal by himself, which prompted him to write six of the nine short stories in the collection in barely two months, “ during a quiet autumn. The other three were later written “at a more relaxed pace.”

Humor and seriousness

The result has something to charm, especially since D.H. Taylor skilfully switches from humor to a more serious tone. He takes the liberty of evoking issues affecting indigenous communities, such as alcoholism and delinquency in La Voie des Pétroglyphes or suicide in the shocking short story Monsieur Machin-truc. 

Some sharp arrows are evidently fired at “palefaces” and Canadian authorities, as in Dreams of disaster. In this 40-page short story, dreamcatchers have been tampered with by the government to quell any sense of revolt among the First Nations.

Some stories have a more ironic tone than others. This is the case of the story that introduces the collection, A culturally inappropriate apocalypse, in which an indigenous community radio station is indirectly responsible for the destruction of humanity, nothing less. 

For the last time, the old man read the sentence aloud. “Those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it”. Willie Whitefish closed the book, nodding solemnly. He hated when white people were right. 

Excerpt from the short story A Culturally Inappropriate Apocalypse 

We want to see your leader! by Drew Hayden Taylor is available in bookstores.  

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