Larissa Lai is the author of six books, including the novels Salt Fish Girl and The Tiger Flu, and the monograph Slanting I, Imagining We: Asian Canadian Literary Production in the 1980s and 1990s. Recipient of the Lambda Literary Award, the Astraea Award, and the Tiptree Honor Book Award and finalist for the ACQL Gabrielle Roy Prize for Literary Criticism and seven more, she lives on Treaty Seven Territory in southern Alberta, where she holds a Canada Research Chair in the Department of English at the University of Calgary and directs The Insurgent Architects’ House for Creative Writing.
“Familiarizing Grist Village: Why I Write Speculative Fiction”
Larissa Lai explains that she writes speculative fiction in order to embrace her own writerly agency. She takes up the practice of the thought experiment, first envisioned by Ursula LeGuin, as a way of narratively testing out ideas that could be practiced in the world as it is. Lai adds to this by recognizing that the world changes in multiple ways at once, and that we get new worlds and fresh futures not through a single change but through the concatenation of many, often driven by differing ideals. We can’t predict the results of ideals interacting, but we can learn to recognize beautiful, freeing or interesting things when they emerge. The marvel of speculative fiction is that it can show us how this might work, as for example in The Tiger Flu, Lai’s novel about a community of self-reproducing women and a disease that favours men.
Canadian Literature issue 240, Decolonial (Re)Visions of Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror, is available to order through our online store.