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Racial AsymmetriesAsian American Fictional Worlds$
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Stephen Hong Sohn

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9781479800070

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479800070.001.0001

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Impossible Narration

Impossible Narration

Racial Analogies and Asian American Speculative Fictions

(p.171) 5 Impossible Narration
Racial Asymmetries

Stephen Hong Sohn

NYU Press

This chapter explores the ways two speculative fictions function through racial analogies. Claire Light's “Abducted by Aliens!” and Ted Chiang's The Merchant and the Alchemist's Gate, though narrated by characters who exist in fantastical landscapes filled with alchemy, time traveling, or alien invaders, can be interpreted through their oblique relationship to external social contexts and historical archives. “Abducted by Aliens!” demonstrates how the alien-abduction narrative can be analogized to the experience of Japanese American internees, while Chiang's novelette shows how an oriental tale set in the Islamic Golden Age can be analogized to American foreign policy in the post-9/11 era. Both works provide dramatic examples of the Asian American writer who makes imaginative use of narrative perspective but whose fictional worlds can be firmly tethered to material and historical contexts.

Keywords:   laire Light, Abducted by Aliens, Ted Chiang, Alchemist's Gate, Islamic Golden Age

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