Illustration for article titled Why Is English The Language Of Science Fiction?

Science fiction authors from France, Finland and the Netherlands are all putting out books in English, notes Israeli author Lavie Tidhar (who's also publishing a steampunk novel in English.) Why is English the language of science fiction anyway?


Tidhar's novel, The Bookman, is a "steampunk adventure, and a book about books, and a mystery, and a love story," and it sounds as though Tidhar wrote it in English, despite also writing science fiction in Hebrew sometimes. And Tidhar says this may be a trend:

We are certainly seeing a – however small – group of writers who have chosen to write in English in order to reach a wider readership (or for other reasons, which is partially the subject of this editorial). Tomorrow, then, also sees publication of French author Aliette de Bodard's first novel, Servant of the Underworld, which I haven't had a chance to read yet but which sounds fabulous, a murder mystery set in the blood-drenched world of human sacrifice and Aztec mythology…

And coming out this year we have Finnish writer Hannu Rajamieni's first novel, The Quantum Thief, which I've been hearing great things about, while Dutch writer Jetse de Vries, putting on his editorial hat, will see his first anthology, Shine, published. All four books come from mass market publishers in the UK – and we can also expect translated novels from French writer Pierre Pevel and Russian writer Dmitry A. Glukhovsky.


Is the desire for a wider readership the only reason to write in English? Tidhar says other possible explanations include the fact that so much science-fictional vocabulary, from hyperspace to teleportation — and yet you can transpose those words into other languages, or come up with near equivalents. Is it just because the community of SF readers and writers is mostly English-speaking, or is there something peculiarly Anglophone about the genre? What do you think? [World SF News Blog]

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