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Friday, February 12, 2010

In which I finally talk about that Dragon and the Stars Cover

You know, with the Lunar New Year coming up and everything, I almost didn't want to post about this because it hurts me and every time I work on my draft of this post it just comes out sad and angry and hurt and inarticulate, and I hate how just the sight of one cover can make me feel so small. But then, as it goes, I should try and clear out and clean up all the bad air before the coming of the New Years so.

There's a new anthology coming out called The Dragon and the Stars. It is suppose to feature SFF stories written by the ethnic Chinese diaspora. This is how the cover looks like. (I refuse to upload the image up here. Absolutely refuse.)

I can't - I can't even begin to tell you how much this cover hurts and frustrates me. WHY is a western dragon considered representative of a SFF short story collection of the Chinese diaspora WHY. I'm just so insulted that the cover makers thought that a stock western dragon will do because All Dragons Are The Same and of course if we had to choose between a "western" or an "eastern" dragon, a western dragon is gonna work better because obviously all western ideas can speak for cultures and people all over the world. FAIL FAIL FAIL. This isn't even like, the wrong dragon kind of problem (though that does piss me off. If we really needed a dragon to be on the cover, our dragons aren't good enough or something?), it's the whole notion that a stock image of a distinctively western cultural icon can be used to represent other cultures, that ASSUMPTION of its universality that angers and hurts me. Your dragons cannot take the place of our stories, and the thoughtless-ness of this decision to do so appalls and astounds me. I do not need stereotyped eastern dragon covers, nor am I asking for one. There are ways to make a cover that represents the Chinese culture reflected in the stories without resorting to stereotypes, like the cover of Ying Chen's anthology A Banquet of Hungry Ghosts, for instance.

And you know, I may have carried on being angry and refusing to post, but then sometimes people are awesome and help heal wounds. Awesome, amazing people like Silvia Moreno-Garcia, who made a fancover for this anthology that made me smile and feel like I can try talking about this again and go, hey, here's a cover I'm willing to share with everyone:



DISCLAIMER: I did NOT make this cover allllllll credit goes to Silvia Moreno-Garcia


(I swear I'll have happy things to post about in this blog soon. Really! That giveaway post is comingggggg.)

15 comments:

ninefly said...

oh that fancover is GORGEOUS *___*
sometimes I wish all covers (paperback as well) are removable and I can replace the ones I absolutely abhor DDD8
on the bright side, it makes the publishers look dumb...to us anyways =T

Ah Yuan // wingstodust said...

I knowwwwwww, I'm considering like, if I get this anthology, I'd glue this fancover over that other hideous-ness.

April said...

That fan cover is way more sexy than the official cover.

Fail on DAW books for having such a boring, uncool cover. I hate that they feel they have to use a boring been there done that western dragon instead of an awesome eastern dragon.

Oh and if you like fantasy with Asian characters can I please suggest the Tales of the Otori books by Lian Hearn. It's set in a land similar to Japan and OMFG rocks my face off. (Sorry for the plug, just thought it was relevent since we're talking fantasy covers here)

MissAttitude said...

Fan cover is 100000x better! I agree, the idea that one culture is universal and can represent other cultures, um no, wrong. Has the publisher said anything about the cover? I posted about this a little while ago and I'm doing a post about two newly dsicovered whitewashed covers (mariposa Club from BookGazing blog and a Mulan retelling).

My mom once suggested that to protest whitewashed covers people make their own and tear the offending cover of the book or just tape their new cover over it (after paying of course!) I think next time I see a whitewashed cover and I want the book, I will bring in my own cover idea, or just a blank piece of paper even (that's better than a whitewashed cover!)

re-weird said...

Ugh, that's so wrong. I think glue sticks will help with attaching the fan cover over the other one.

Ah Yuan // wingstodust said...

@April,

I tried Tales of the Otori and it felt too much quest fantasy for me to get into. Granted, at the time I was really bored with quest fantasy, but maybe I can give it another shot.

@MissAttitude,

wtf they whitewashed MULAN?!?!? ALSKDJFJ HOW MANY OF MY CHILDHOOD LOVES ARE THEY GONNA DESTROY. *angry!face*

I don't think the publisher said anything, because I haven't heard anything...

lawl that would be a personal protest, but I dunno if that would change anything with the actual decision-maker's minds about what they should do with covers themselves. It's a thought though. =D

@re-weird,

yesss, now, all I need is a newly made spin and backcover so the colours don't clash. (too picky about my colours, I know.

choco (In Which a Girl Reads) said...

Ah Yuan, you rock for posting about this.

I can't believe how many instances there are throughout the publishing world where covers grossly misrepresent books--and it seems a lot of the time it has to do with culture/race.

That dragon is about as medieval, Arthurian/ animated evil dragon of Disney as it gets. Definitely not Chinese, and I don't see how they thought it'd be an entrancing cover for a book by Chinese authors.

W.T.F.

And W.T.H. to the stereotypical Asian covers.

*sigh*

This is just so upsetting.

Tarie said...

Sigh.

Just...

Sigh.

=(

I'm sad and really tired of all this structural racism.

On the bright side... Happy Chinese New Year, Ah Yuan! * hugs * How are you celebrating? It's already Chinese New Year's Eve here in the Philippines and I can hear the start of all the fireworks!

Ah Yuan // wingstodust said...

@choco,

I know, stuff like this gets to me every time. *sighs*

@Tarie,

lawl, I just had a big celebration dinner last night and am going for another round for lunch. And hopefully we'll be served yee sang. Mmmmmmm yee sang. ♥

Lu @ Regular Rumination said...

The first cover, outside of being offensive, also has ZERO appeal. It's not very well illustrated and is, frankly, just ugly. The fan cover, however, would make me stop in a bookstore and fawn over it. The first one? Not at all. I'm not sure I would be educated enough to be offended on my own, but now that you have informed me, I am very upset :(

Kaethe said...

I much prefer the fancover, too. Can we get a printable download with cut lines, please, Silvia Moreno-Garcia?

Kate Halleron said...

DAW has a looooooong history of atrocious covers. The cover of 'Don't Bite the Sun' - a book about a futuristic society in which people could change bodies at whim - had a buxom woman in a fur bikini kneeling on a rock. That's only one example.

This is far better than that, but that's certainly damning with faint praise.

Don't take it personally, DAW always has sucked at covers. It's offensive, but it's not just you.

Misty said...

It really is a shame, because the cover they came up with *is* beautiful and I'm sure they could have found something to use it for that would have been appropriate. That is irritating. I would never have guessed that is was anything Asian in the least little bit from that cover.
I LOVE the fanfic cover. Gorgeous and appropriate and it works in the stars aspect. Great idea on her part.

Jackie M. said...

Okay, now I want this anthology with a proper cover. Printable cutable fanart dustcover! Go go go!

Anonymous said...

You could argue that the problem started much earlier, when someone decided to translate "loong" as "dragon." The two types of mythological creatures have nothing to do with each other, and that translation decision, made way back then, caused the present confusion.