Culture and Conflict: What the Okal Rel Saga is All About

When we put out the call for guest bloggers, Lynda Williams was a natural fit. Her Okal Rel universe is fraught with culture clash. In this post, she talks about the many sources of cultural conflict in her books. Readers who like their culture clash played out through characters where no one is 100% right about anything, will enjoy spending time in the Okal Rel Universe. Imagine politically sophisticated high-tech invaders clashing with biologically empowered tribal leaders, known as Sevolites, who are, themselves, the advanced technology. Or a conquering Sevolite warrior who can’t understand why “take me to you leader”…

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Culture and Conflict: Permission to Speak Freely?

When Josh and I put out the call for guest bloggers for this series, we wanted to hear from people with real life culture clash experiences. Former US Marine Garvin Anders has those experiences in spades. In a candid post, he discusses how tricky communication can be between sub-cultures within cultures. Culture clash can happen in a lot of different ways and I’ve experienced most of them, if I may be excused some vanity. I am a hearing child of deaf parents. I grew up in Oklahoma but live in Arizona. I am a Marine surrounded by civilians. I am…

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Culture and Conflict: Canadian Vs. American Science Fiction

Today’s guest knows his science fiction! Aurora Award winner Robert Runté explains the differences between science fiction from two seemingly similar countries. Most SF writers, editors, publishers, and readers would accept that the SF genre represents something of a different subculture, often at odds with the mainstream literary establishment. Much less recognized, however, are the cultural clashes within the genre. I’ve spent much of the last 35 years talking about the differences between Canadian and American speculative fiction. We tend to think of SF as an American genre, because it often reflects American values and themes, but Canadians write it too,…

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Culture and Conflict: Imperfections of Perception

  Today’s guest, Tyson Seuret, examines how a simple symbol can divide cultures. On February 4, 2015, The Huffington Post published an article about an 18-year-old woman in India. She was a woman of passionate creation—a poet, student, and activist for inter-faith collaboration and togetherness. She was considering studying at universities outside of her country of birth, and she was now confronted with the possibility that she must use a nickname, or an alteration of her name to do so. Why? Because this young woman was named for the Hindi symbol for well-being, prosperity, and goodness of heart that is…

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Culture and Conflict: Imagined Realities

In 2014, I had the pleasure of speaking on two panels at VCON with today’s guest. Ron S. Friedman is a Canadian SF/F author but his roots began in Israel. Have you ever been in an argument with someone to the point where you realize that you and your counterpart simply have different, unbridgeable point of views? As if each of you grew up in a parallel universe, and that no amount of data and supportive evidence can change the other person’s mind? If you did, don’t be alarmed. That’s perfectly normal for how a modern Homo-Sapiens’ brain works. Last…

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Culture and Conflict: To Believe or Not To Believe

Our first guest blogger, Aurora Award winning author Sally McBride, considers the question of cultural conflict from a unique perspective–a Canadian liberal atheist married to an American conservative believer. On paper, my husband and I should never have met, let alone stayed married. He’s a Texan redneck and proud of it, therefore comes preloaded with a God-fearing, gun-toting, conservative attitude. I’m a Toronto native from an artsy, liberal background, and if that isn’t bad enough (Socialized medicine! The metric system!), I’m also an atheist. Did I mention my hubby went to seminary school and planned to become a priest? Nope?…

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Culture and Conflict – Guest Blog Series

Diversity. Multiculturalism. Inclusion. In the context of human relations, these words evoke warm feelings. Who wouldn’t want a world where people of different races, cultures, and beliefs can co-exist peacefully, each enriching the other? And yet you have only to open your computer, turn on the news, or read the newspaper to see how far from this ideal we are. Cultural conflicts have incited hatred and violence since the beginning of recorded history—and undoubtedly since the beginning of the human race. In my own lifetime, growing up in a quiet suburb in a supposedly peace-loving nation, I have witnessed the…

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The Truth Inside the Lie – Lynda Williams

The Highway and the Universe In my teenage years, my faster-than-light method of travel needed to be scientifically plausible. That’s when I invented reality skimming, inspired by an enrichment course in space-time physics in my high school years. Fig 1 Rel Ship in space But by the time the Okal Rel Saga shaped up into meaty stories about people, the underpinning technology had to map to something more emotionally real. Philosophically, this became the wear and tear of living (shimmer damage), and the risk of losing one’s grip and drifting into depression or ennui (time slip). Physically, however, the inspiration…

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The Truth Inside the Lie – Douglas Smith

On Writing About a Different Culture My recent novel, The Wolf at the End of the World, takes place in modern-day northern Ontario and continues the story of the Heroka, my human-like shape-shifting race that I introduced in my award-winning story, "Spirit Dance." Along with the Heroka mythology, The Wolf incorporates Cree and Ojibwa stories and traditions. Now, I’m a white male of British descent writing about First Nations culture and beliefs. Any author who writes about a current culture other than their own risks being accused of cultural appropriation. That risk is even greater if the writer belongs to…

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The Truth Inside the Lie – Nathan Elberg

The World is a Wild Place People are different. Not just in appearance, or restaurant preference. Not just in intelligence, but how they apprehend the world. You might say there’s a pencil on a table. A Pacific Islander would say that the table lumps. You might say there are a few pencils on the table. The Islander would say the table lumps severally. You might say that your father’s brother’s children are your cousins, while your male siblings are your brothers. In many societies though, your father’s brother’s children might be just as much your brothers as your male siblings. You might believe in fundamentals, like honesty,…

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