In Which I Commit Cultural Appropriation

So if you have been online much at all in the last few years, you will have heard that cultural appropriation is Definitely A Thing.

I’m about to commit cultural appropriation.  If this or the snark that follows triggers you, that’s not my problem.

A number of different cultures throughout history have had calendars which have included years with particular themes.  One prominent example is the Chinese calendar, in which there are twelve years, each representing one of the signs of the Chinese zodiac, such as Year of the Horse or Year of the Monkey, just to name two.  At the end of twelve years, the cycle repeats.  (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you should check the placemats at just about any Chinese restaurant.  And pick me up some honey walnut shrimp while you’re at it, if you don’t mind, please.)

In keeping with that spirit, I’m going to commit cultural appropriation by declaring 2018 the Year of Classic Fiction.

There are a number of classic works of fantasy, science fiction, and mystery on my shelves.  These fall into two general categories.  Those I haven’t read but should have.  Those I’ve read so long ago that the details have pretty much faded.  I’m not overly impressed with what I’m seeing from the main publishers, so I’m going to spend what reading time I have on works I am more likely to enjoy.  In addition to Gemmell, Moorcock, Leiber, and writers of the post WWII era, I’ll be reading Merritt, Haggard, Burroughs, Lamb, and Sabatini.  Among others.

There are also a number of small press items that have piled up, such as Cirsova, Weirdbook, etc., in addition to the short fiction markets I’ve got subscriptions to.  I want to get caught up on those.  Add into that mix a number of works by friends I’ve not gotten to yet.  That doesn’t leave a lot of time for thick door stopper tomes.

Plus, I want to read more nonfiction, specifically more history.  There have been a number of interesting titles published, and I have friends who make me aware of them.  (I’m looking at you here, Jim Cornelius, Paul McNamee, and David J. West.)  I’d like to get caught up on some of them.  The aforementioned gentlemen have great taste, and they’ve yet to steer me wrong.

This shift in what I’m reading will show up in my blogging in several ways.  First, the science fiction and mystery blogs have been rather dormant, and the history blog has pretty much died.  (Links are at the top of the page.)  I’m hoping to make those more active.

I’m not necessarily going to blog about all of the fiction I’m reading.  Fiction writing will need to be my top writing priority, as I talked about in yesterday’s post.  I’ll try to post some things that aren’t reviews, since essays are bit easier to write.

So that’s what you can expect around here for the next year.  Cultural appropriation as The Year of Classic Fiction begins.

19 thoughts on “In Which I Commit Cultural Appropriation

  1. deuce

    “I’ll be reading Merritt, Haggard, Burroughs, Lamb, and Sabatini. ”

    Right-the-eff-ON. Can’t go wrong with that.

    1. Keith West Post author

      Read some Sabatini short stories over Christmas after I got your email. I had forgotten how much I enjoyed Sabatini.

  2. Paul McNamee

    Looking forward to it.

    I started on TARZAN AT THE EARTH’S CORE because it’s Charles R. Rutledge’s favorite of the Tarzan novels.

    I have Jim Moore’s THE LAST SACRIFICE audiobook queued for my daily commute starting tomorrow.

    1. Keith West Post author

      I read the first two Tarzan novels this past year and intend to work my way through them in order. Likewise the Pellucidar, Mars, and Venus books.

      You’re going to enjoy THE LAST SACRIFICE. The sequel is even better.

      1. Paul McNamee

        I’d been listening to TARZAN books in audio but they stop as soon as they aren’t public domain. I still have two I can listen to, then it will be book reading. (I jumped ahead for ..CORE..)

        I also want to continue with the original Sherlock Holmes stories.

        In other words, I’ll be all over the map again 🙂 No surprise.

        1. Keith West Post author

          All over the map is good. Reading IN THE SHADOW OF EDGAR ALLAN POE reminded of how good so much of the storytelling was in the late 1800s and early 1900s. The style was a little more wordy compared to modern writing, but the stories and characters were often quite compelling.

          Besides, I’ve come to the conclusion that a writing career that is best equipped to handle ups and downs in the market is one that isn’t limited to one or two genres. That means I want to read across a wide variety of styles and genres to better equip myself to write all over the map.

  3. H.P.

    I can destroy arguments against cultural appropriation with two words: ranchero kolache.

    I fairly evenly split my SF reading among vintage SF, indies, and modern tradpubbed books and I was pretty happy with that mix. I do want to read more non-fiction and non-SF fiction in 2018. And I’m building up a real backlog of small press SF mags.

    1. Keith West Post author

      I’m still going to read some modern, but I’m going to be very selective.

      I’ll have to try ranchero kolache.

  4. Woelf Dietrich

    Cultural Appropriation doesn’t exist. Unless you want to talk about assimilation throughout the ages as one nation conquered another, but that is history and way too complicated for most Twitter cultural experts.

    Anyway, I like your plan. I have too much on my plate at the moment. I haven’t written a thing in months because I’m studying for the bar, and with work and three kids, something had to give. I plan to get back to that in February to finalise Interspecies 2.

    I do want to write more reviews for my blog which I have done sparingly thus far. I’ll probably continue the Art of Fantasy series but I have lost the spark for it somewhat.

    I am also gathering old pulp era tales and expanding my library; ones that are out of print and will probably never see a re-issue. I have to. With sensitivity readers and whatnot, I fear for the future so I’m trying to gather all the books I grew up with to rekindle them and keep safe and definitely to reread.

    This is the plan anyway.

    1. Keith West Post author

      Good plan. There’s a wealth of old stuff that needs to be remembered.

      And I agree, there’s no such thing as cultural appropriation, which is why I mock the concept.

  5. Carrington Dixon

    I have been slowly working through all the Burroughs, Haggard, and Zane Grey books in more or less order of publication. I am trying all their published books, even those outside their fach. I could not make it through Cetywayo and His White Neighbours or Joan Haste but I have enjoyed everything else by HRH. I have skimmed some of Grey’s sport and fishing books, but enjoyed much even there.

    Note that all Burroughs’ series have connections (unless you consider the two volume ‘white Indian’ books a series). You might consider reading all the series together in publication order so that Tarzan At the Earth’s Core appears in its proper sequence in both the Tarzan and Pellucidar series. Incidentally, I think those two while Indian books (Apache Devil, War Chief) are some of ERB’s best; so, don;t skip them.

    1. Keith West Post author

      Thanks for the comments. I prefer to read series in order of publication, so I’ll probably do that with the Tarzan and Pellucidar books. I’ve never read Zane Grey, but I’ll try to work him in.

  6. Carrington Dixon

    With Burroughs series order is the same as internal chronology, except for Jungle Tales of Tarzan which chronologically fits about halfway through the first book. There is enough inconsistencies in the Alan Quatermain stories that nobody seems to have devised a satisfactory chronology; so, reading in publication order works better than otherwise. Grey wrote the occasional sequel but no real series beyond the YA “Ken Ward” books, where publication order and internal chronology seem to agree.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *