Tag Archives: Gene Luen Yang

Diversity in Fantasy Books

I read a lot, obviously, and sci-fi is one of my favorite genres. But I like a very specific kind of sci-fi—generally realistic space adventures—and I’m not a big fan of fantasy.

There are always a few standout hits—Harry Potter, The Chronicles of Narnia, Lord of the Rings, A Wrinkle in Time—but in general I don’t like fantasy. I think part of the problem is no clear delineation of the stakes. When you use magic,  suddenly anything is possible. Can that tiny guy beat the big guy? I don’t know. The drama is undermined because the rules of magic are unclear. With realistic space adventures at least they have to pretend to scientifically explain some new technology.

Sidebar: This is one of my frustrations with the Transformers movies (among many). There’s no sense of which robot is stronger. Optimus Prime is always able to pull out some new reserve or strength to fight back, even if he just had his arm chopped off (why didn’t you use that move to keep your arm?). It’s always used as a dramatic climax, but it actually undermines the tension. Continue reading Diversity in Fantasy Books

New/Old Asian Superhero: The Shadow Hero

The Shadow Hero by Gene Luen YangThis is fun: Gene Luen Yang is releasing a new retelling of a classic Asian superhero, the Green Turtle.

It’s an exploration of the immigrant experience through the superhero genre, which is essentially all about immigrants and living in two cultures at once. As Gene says:

Superheroes are also about immigrants.  Take at look at Superman, the granddaddy of them all.  His parents sent him to America in search of a better life.  He had two names, one American (Clark Kent) and the other foreign (Kal-El).  He wears two sets of clothes and lives in between two cultures.  He loves his new home, but a part of him longs for his old one.

The character originated in the 1940s and had a short run, but Gene is reviving this forgotten superhero with a new story.

It’s being released as a complete graphic novel this summer, The Shadow Hero, or you can grab digital releases as they come out (#4 of 6 comes out this week).

I discovered Gene Luen Yang earlier this spring thanks to the Festival of Faith and Writing. If his past work is any indication (especially Boxers & Saints and American Born Chinese), this one is going to be worth checking out.