Alif the Unseen

G. Willow Wilson
Alif the Unseen Cover

Alif the Unseen


In some sense, all truly great fantasy books are immigrant stories. The reader becomes an immigrant discovering a new world in all the everyday magic of food and language and culture. Sometimes the narrator herself is an immigrant too, and we get to sympathize with Alice as she discovers Wonderland, or the Pevensies as they emerge from the wardrobe. But, more often, authors give us a handy native guide to help us make our literary lives in their strange worlds.

If all great fantasies are immigrant stories, then it follows that all mediocre fantasies are mere explorer tales. In an explorer tale, the author takes us tromping through a world they barely know themselves, often built on the sad ruins of somebody's actual culture. We're handed some inaccurate maps, we catch a few glimpses of the exotic natives, and then we sail home with small pox in our wake.

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