Sunday December 04, 2016

Indigenous Reads: Drew Hayden Taylor blends science fiction with Indigenous story

Drew Hayden Taylor's latest collection, Take Us To Your Chief, spans a range of traditional science fiction topics, from peaceful aliens to hostile invaders, space travel to time travel, and government conspiracies to connections across generations.

Drew Hayden Taylor's latest collection, Take Us To Your Chief, spans a range of traditional science fiction topics, from peaceful aliens to hostile invaders, space travel to time travel, and government conspiracies to connections across generations. (CBC)

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If you've been reading along with our Indigenous Reads book club, you know it's time to dig into book number three.

Drew Hayden Taylor is an Anishinabe author and playwright from Curve Lake First Nations in Ontario. His latest book, Take Us To Your Chief, blends First Nations story with science fiction.

"I'm always interested in exploring new avenues in terms of who we are and how we express ourselves. But I also look at what should be explored, what needs to be explored," said Taylor.

He wanted to commission an anthology of science fiction stories from various authors, but he could not find a publisher willing to finance it. 

In the chapter "Lost In Space," Taylor says he wanted to explore how to practice traditions while not on Earth.

"How do you honour the four directions in space, when there are no four directions?"

Although Taylor likes exploring new ways of expression, the one thing that remains constant in his writing is the setting. Otter Lake may be the busiest little fictional rez there is.

"Rather than sit down and create an alternate world, an alternate universe, what I've done is just taken my community and given it a new name," he said.

"And just sort of imagined what would happen if all these things happened … whether it's a 350-year-old vampire coming back to where his community was hundreds of years ago [as in his 2013 novel The Night Wanderer], or aliens landing."

The Indigeous Reads book club will discuss Taylor's novel Take Us to Your Chief on Dec. 18. So get reading!