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Vizenor, Gerald

Entry updated 2 June 2020. Tagged: Author.

(1934-    ) US academic and author, an Anishinaabe Native American of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe, most of whose nonfiction and fiction has been addressed to the tragic Native American narrative since the European invasions began in the sixteenth century CE, through which he has eloquently exposed and opposed the conquerors' grouping of dozens of geographically, culturally and linguistically distinct North American civilizations as "Indian". He is of strong sf interest for his first novel, Darkness in Saint Louis Bearheart (1978; rev vt Bearheart: The Heirship Chronicles 1990), a Near Future tale set in an America devastated by Ecological exploitation of the land, primarily on the part of oil companies; the cast enter upon a Fantastic Voyage across this Ruined Earth, guided and occasionally guided by the protagonist, Proude Cedarfair, who like many of Vizenor's central creations Equipoisally presents himself as man and bear and Trickster [see The Encyclopedia of Fantasy under links below] (see also Magic Realism).

Vizenor's later fiction tends to eschew direct sf shapings, but consistently provides clear examples of mature Fantastika. The protagonist of Griever: An American Monkey King in China (1986) is a paradigm Trickster figure (see also Apes as Human); The Trickster of Liberty: Native Heirs to a Wild Baronage (fixup 1988) brings loosely together characters from both Griever and Bearheart. The Heirs of Columbus (1991) presents a kind of secret history of the world in which the Mayan civilization, preceding all others, has left a genetic record extending from the Sephardic Jews to Christopher Columbus, whose contemporary descendants compete for his remains, in order to create a new genome. Dead Voices: Natural Agonies in the New World (coll 1992) more conservatively offers a set of recreations of traditional material. [JC]

Gerald Robert Vizenor

born Minneapolis, Minnesota: 22 October 1934

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