New column! American science fiction and fantasy get a lot of attention. A disproportionate amount of attention. The whole wide world is full of interesting authors writing interesting worlds and characters and situations, and I want to have a hand in getting their names further out into the world. Diversity in the stories we read and tell can only make the ecosystem that is sci fi and fantasy fandom stronger, more interesting, more wonderful. So from time to time we’ll have a guest blogger visit Book Punks to tell us about their favorite books. Today Sullivan of Pearls Cast Before a McPig is here to tell us about his top five favorite Dutch sci fi and fantasy authors. Some have been translated, others have not. I can’t wait to hear all about them. If you are from anywhere that is not the United States of America and would like to contribute to this column, drop us a line via the contact form. -nikki
I will confess it’s difficult to find Dutch science fiction and fantasy (SFF) books. This is not because Dutch authors don’t write SFF, but because Dutch people don’t want to read SFF written by Dutch authors. The Dutch seem to think Dutch authors can’t write SFF. So when a Dutch author does write SFF that author takes on an English pen name. Adrian Stone is an example of a Dutch author who took an English sounding pen name for example.
So when I tried to come up with a top five of Dutch SFF books I discovered I could mainly think of books for teens/young adults. But as these are some wonderful books I keep rereading they might probably still end up in this list even if I could think of others.
1 – Torenhoog en Mijlen Breed (Towering High and Miles Wide) by Tonke Dragt
This story is set on Venus*, a planet that’s hostile and strange to the humans who are trying to colonise it, and is about Edu, an explorer who sets off into the dangerous forests of the planet and finds there’s more to the creatures living there than humans had ever imagined. (*story was written before it was discovered what Venus was really like)
2 – Ogen van Tijgers (Eyes of Tigers) by Tonke Dragt
This is the sequel to Torenhoog en Mijlen Breed and even better in my opinion, so it deserves its own spot in this top 5.
This story is set on earth and centers around ex-explorer Jock Martijn. A recent discovery made on Venus by other explorers make him a sudden target for government conspiracies. When he discovers he has hidden talents, the stakes get even higher.
Both of these books have adult protagonists, but still are labeled for teens. I can’t tell you how often I have read these two books. They’re not just really suspenseful futuristic stories, they question society and make you think. They’ve been translated to German, but not to English sadly enough, because I really recommend them to anyone who loves futuristic fiction.
3 – Kinderen van Moeder Aarde (Children of Mother Earth) by Thea Beckman
Set in the future this story is about a matriarchal society at one with nature that gets invaded by a more military minded nation. The invaders soon discover that being in tune with nature doesn’t mean being unable to defend yourself against aggression.
There are two books following this book: Het Helse Paradijs (The Hellish Paradise) and Het Gulden Vlies van Thule (Thule’s Golden Fleece). The whole trilogy is beautiful and thought provoking. Again: translated to German, but not to English.
4 – Hasse Simonsdochter (Hasse Simon’s Daughter) by Thea Beckman
This is about a free-spirited young girl who marries a mercenary captain and fights besides him. It’s based on an real historical figure, the mercenary captain Jan van Schaffelaar. Knowing just what happened to him made this a very intense read the first time I ever read this book. I love how Beckman didn’t chose him as the lead character, but instead created Hasse, a girl who takes charge of her own life.
I will also mention a book by Beckman that did get translated to Engish: Kruistocht in Spijkerbroek (Crusade in Jeans). A boy gets transported back in time and ends up joining a children’s crusade. His modern day knowledge makes he can help the children overcome many problems.
5 – Koning van Katoren (How to Become King) by Jan Terlouw
This is the story of a boy who wants to become king of Katoren. He has to solve many problems and face many challenges to prove he’s fit to be the king. I love how this book is Fantasy, but manages to touch on modern day problems even though it was written back in 1971 This book is probably also fit for children under 12, but to be honest I read most of these books for the first time between age 9 – 13 And yes! This one actually got translated to English!