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Bewildering Stories

Bewildering Stories Editorial

A Space Without Borders

by Don Webb

A contributor asks:

Is it okay to have your story published in different countries at the same time?

Who knows — or really cares — where anything is on line? Cyberspace has no borders.

Take the recent saber-rattling about cyber espionage and sabotage being an “act of war.” It is to laugh. Was the Chinese government behind recent attempts to hack into computers at the U.S. Dept. of Defence? Maybe. But says who? Pirates have always flown false colours; it could have been anybody. I predict the next cyber attack will appear to come from some place few people have ever heard of. Who’d want to declare war on — pick a country — Canada?

The fact has practical implications in terms of writing, especially fiction. What’s the point of putting on line stories that are so loaded with local cultural references that many readers won’t have a clue what the author is talking about?

For example, we receive many contributions from India. But the ones we accept aren’t written in the cultural equivalent of Hindi; they clarify an Indian reality to a world audience. And the same goes for North Americans and anyone else: they speak to the same audience here at Bewildering Stories.

Regional literature has always been a specialized genre, but will it become more or less so? In either case, is that good or bad? And is it good or bad that fiction may have to be composed in what some have called “globalspeak”? As the French might say, there is to eat and drink in that — either way is a mixed blessing. Whatever the place of origin, world literature is what the world can understand regardless of its cultural context.

As we’ve said elsewhere, all writing has an audience, even if it’s only the writer. And communication means getting a message through to someone in a way that will make it understood. The craft and art of writing are what they’ve always been, but the audience has changed. Smoky Anglo-Saxon lodges and sunny Hellenic amphitheatres are gone; today the whole world is watching — and reading.

Copyright © 2011 by Don Webb
for Bewildering Stories

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