Thursday, May 14, 2009


I am getting a lot of email asking if I've read Wrede's new book, The Thirteenth Child. People are sending me links to discussions of the book. But! I'm on a deadline and unable to read it till later this summer. For now, I'll share some of the links I've been sent.

Pioneer Fantasy: Patricia Wrede's Thirteenth Child - May 4th, 2009

Fiction Theory, May 9th, 2009

"Next Verse, Same as the First" - May 8th, at LiveJournal

Learning just a little about the book, my thought is "she did what?!"


Carole McDonnell said...

Just want to say I've read your blog regularly since I discovered it last week and although I'm primarily Jamaican, my grandfather was a quarter Native American. I really dislike the idea of the book.

I understand that a writer of alternate history has a right to create her own story. But I think a publisher should be quite aware of "the other" when publishing a story like this.

I's okay if this author creates a story where people find and discover an unexplored continent. But why name it Columbia? And why find an alternate America? Couldn't she make an alternate Antartica? Why did she have to create an America with no original native peoples there? Does that kind of thing even happen? She should've unnamed the continent or included the natives or gone to Antartica or another planet. Alternate history is not about "literally" -- I mean in literature-- erasing a people who are already greatly decimated and in many cases destroyed. To me, it hints at a deeper issue: whites simply wishing folks of color simply were not here messing up their (the whites) perfect land.

Anonymous said...

What gives you the right to tell the author what they should have done or not done? She has the right to do what she wants, name the country anything she likes, place the story anywhere.

Debbie Reese said...


Of course, Wrede can do anything she wants to. She did, in fact, do what she wanted to.

This is not, for me, a question of "rights" to do this or that. I can offer some fighting words and say "I have the right to say anything I want to about her book" but that is only a fight about "rights" and that won't get us very far.

Carole McDonnell said...

Just a note to say that it's definitely being discussed all over the specfic world by folks of color.

Lower Elwha Klallam Tribal Library said...

just now read _Thirteenth Child_ and all 277 comments in the discussion at Luckily the book was quite a bit boring--if it had been as wonderful as the first of the Dragons books it would have made me very sad that she made such a mistake.

It's really damning that it didn't occur to her that it at least needed explaining within the context of the world she built-- it's as if Natives were already invisible to her, and she swept them out of her alternate world without noticing what she had done, so she never felt she had to account for it. But kids aren't dumb; lots of readers, not just Natives, will be wondering, "but where are the native people in the New World in this alternate history?"

Miriam B.
at Lower Elwha