Cat Hellisen Discusses Dystopian Science Fiction in South Africa
LitNet’s Elzette Steenkamp interviewed Cat Hellisen, author of When the Sea is Rising Red, about the “resurgence of interest” in South African science fiction and speculative fiction, which Hellisen says is “not so much a resurgence of interest, as it’s simply easier now as a South African to query and submit novels overseas”.
Hellisen also discussed the traditional dominance of male characters in the genre and offered advice to entrants to LitNet’s science fiction writing contest for high school learner: “Don’t send in your first or even second draft. Revise, revise, revise. And write free and unfettered by convention, but edit with publication in mind”.
It may come as a surprise to some, but South Africa has a rich history of science fiction, fantasy and speculative fiction, most notably the “hard” science fiction adventures of Jan Rabie, and the speculative fiction of JM Coetzee, Karel Schoeman and Eben Venter. Why the sudden resurgence of interest in South African SF&F and speculative fiction?
People also forget Dave Freer, who’s been writing for Baen for many years, though he’s since moved to New Zealand. He often slips South African characters into his novels and draws on our military past and mindset. I think there is not so much a resurgence of interest, as it’s simply easier now as a South African to query and submit novels overseas. Before publishing accepted that the internet was not going away, it would cost a fortune to post work overseas, and now there’s a wealth of up-to-date information freely available online, so South Africans can hone their craft without having to go to university.
- When the Sea is Rising Red by Cat Hellisen
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