Reasons for Inclusion: Southeast Asian authors, characters, and setting. Several queer characters and disabled characters.
Publisher’s Summary: Steampunk takes on Southeast Asia in this anthology. The stories in this collection merge technological wonder with the everyday. Children upgrade their fighting spiders with armor, and toymakers create punchcard-driven marionettes. Large fish lumber across the skies, while boat people find a new home on the edge of a different dimension. Technology and tradition meld as the people adapt to the changing forces of their world. The Sea Is Ours is an exciting new anthology that features stories infused with the spirits of Southeast Asia’s diverse peoples, legends, and geography.
(ARC received from Netgalley)
While science fiction is very popular in Southeast Asia, those voices aren’t heard very often by the Western world. This English-language anthology aims to change that.
The collection starts off beautifully, with the tales of a girl who learns to use music to fly with sky whales, and a volcano-mining airship captain who comes to love the princess she thought would be useless. The following stories are just as amazing: queer girls find dragons in a wildlife preserve, a wooden figure comes to life, a mechanist rescues a clockwork cyborg, and more.
These stories fit an enormous amount of character and creativity into a small space, never relying on awkward exposition or “explaining” either the culture or the plot points. They characters exist without having to justify themselves to the audience. And the diversity goes beyond race and culture; there are some queer characters, some disabled characters. Most focus on women, women as inventors, leaders, explorers, and on women of different backgrounds working together- a nicely feminist tilt that’s becoming more prominent in steampunk.
I hope more Southeast Asian stories enter into the English market, because this collection was amazing. I want to see more from this incredibly diverse but underrepresented region of the world.