Take Us to Your Chief: And Other Stories: Classic Science-Fiction with a Contemporary First Nations Outlook

Take Us to Your Chief: And Other Stories: Classic Science-Fiction with a Contemporary First Nations Outlook

by Drew Hayden Taylor




A forgotten Haudenosaunee social song beams into the cosmos like a homing beacon for interstellar visitors. A computer learns to feel sadness and grief from the history of atrocities committed against First Nations. A young Native man discovers the secret to time travel in ancient petroglyphs. Drawing inspiration from science fiction legends like Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov and Ray Bradbury, Drew Hayden Taylor frames classic science-fiction tropes in an Aboriginal perspective.

The nine stories in this collection span all traditional topics of science fiction—from peaceful aliens to hostile invaders; from space travel to time travel; from government conspiracies to connections across generations. Yet Taylor's First Nations perspective draws fresh parallels, likening the cultural implications of alien contact to those of the arrival of Europeans in the Americas, or highlighting the impossibility of remaining a "good Native" in such an unnatural situation as a space mission.

Infused with Native stories and variously mysterious, magical and humorous, Take Us to Your Chief is the perfect mesh of nostalgically 1950s-esque science fiction with modern First Nations discourse.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

This short story collection mixing sci-fi with First Nations myths and contemporary politics highlights prolific writer Taylor’s formidable talents across genres. Taylor (The Night Wanderer) cleverly uses the tropes of science fiction—alien connections, government conspiracies, thinking machines, time travel—to frame colonial-indigenous relations in an off-kilter way. The funniest and most fully realized of the stories is “Dreams of Doom,” in which First Nations people discover the government has been spying on them using specially adapted dream catchers. A more poignant story is “Lost in Space,” in which Mitchell, a First Nations astronaut on a long mission, learns of his grandfather’s death back on Earth. His vessel’s artificial intelligence, known as Mac, is a wholly inadequate companion for grieving—until it tracks down some lost footage of Mitchell’s grandfather. Exploring the complicated no-man’s-land that looms large between modernity and tradition, this collection is an unromanticized attempt to make sense of the world we live in with all its problems and benefits. Although the collection is probably too retro to appeal to serious fans of speculative fiction, its intriguing combination of serious politics and good fun will appeal to a broad readership. Agent: Janine Cheeseman, Aurora Artists. (Apr.)

World Literature Today

With a measured and approachable tone that reveals the author’s love for classic sci-fi writers (Verne, Wells, Asimov), Take Us to Your Chief effortlessly buttresses Taylor’s argument that the philosophies and belief-systems of indigenous peoples can provide rich raw material for speculative fiction.

tor.com - Aidan Moher

amusing, often heartbreaking, and always thoughtful vision of science fiction through an Aboriginal perspective… these stories beg to be read aloud. From his conversational style, to the intimacy of the reader to the narrator's, Taylor’s voice shines through,…Taylor injects humour into even the darkest of his tales, and this works well to alleviate tension (when necessary), but also show another side to First Nations communities that is often misunderstood or ignored entirely—each story is sly and sharply observant… Take Us to Your Chief is a unique collection that offers a potent reminder of why science fiction is one of the most important literary mediums.

Amazing Stories Magazine - Ira Nayman

…Taylor proves that Native science fiction can be both entertaining and serious about Native history and life….Although the tropes are well worn at this point in science fiction’s evolution, Hayden Taylor’s Native point of view and artistic sensibility make them fresh again…The collection is peppered with smart humour. In less assured hands, the serious and humorous elements of the story might have clanked together, diminishing both. However, Hayden Taylor is a skillful storyteller and the shift in tone is handled so deftly that the story as a whole is very satisfying…A book like Take Us to Your Chief could help non-Natives understand Native lives much better than a dozen newspaper articles about life on the Res, or 100 Royal Commissions on the treatment of Natives by the government.

Seattle Book Review - Glenn Dallas

…The introduction of First Nations traditions, family ties, and cultural experiences to these recognizable sci-fi scenarios offers new insights into the human condition, and that’s what good sci-fi is all about…Enjoyable, engaging tales…It’s absolutely wonderful stuff. Take Us to Your Chief is sci-fi with heart, storytelling done right.

Featured Futures

This is a first contact tale like (and unlike) many, many others but was crafted very well, paced superbly (and sedately) and just full of the quirky details I often love. A finer (and quieter) set of protagonists haven’t been depicted very often.

Library Journal

A reservation radio station beaming an old Native American song attracts alien visitors. A First Nations astronaut learns of his grandfather's death back on Earth and ponders his relationship through lost footage brought up by his ship's artificial intelligence. Taylor's nine tales take such classic sf tropes as alien invasions and space travel, and reworks them with a contemporary indigenous North American outlook. New parallels between first alien contact and the arrival of Europeans in the Americas, magic, mystery, Armageddon, and humor are all found in this singular collection. VERDICT Taylor's writing (The Night Wanderer: A Native Gothic Novel) shows that social criticism and art can mix successfully, and that sf is an excellent genre to explore the Native experience in present—and future—worlds.—KC

School Library Journal

Gr 5–8—Taylor delights with humorous short stories that will have readers longing for more. This volume of short science fiction tales from a First Nations perspective invites contemplation. In one piece, men living in a nursing home are conquered by aliens, thereby seeing history repeat itself. In "I AM…AM I," a computer develops artificial intelligence and human emotion, struggling to identify what it is. It turns to Native spirituality as a way to relate, only to become depressed by what it learns. In "Dreams of Doom," a slightly scary and sarcastic entry, dream catchers are used to subdue First Nations into passive people. In "Superdisappointed," a Native man discovers that being the first Aboriginal superhero isn't as glamorous as one might think. Taylor's writing is entertaining and thought provoking. While these tales employ familiar tropes, the First Nations point of view is a refreshing change of pace from typical sci-fi fare. VERDICT Recommended for most libraries. With its appealing cover art, this will be a great addition to short story collections.—Amy Zembroski, Indian Community School, Franklin, WI

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781771621311
Publisher: Douglas and McIntyre (2013) Ltd.
Publication date: 04/11/2017
Pages: 160
Product dimensions: 5.80(w) x 8.80(h) x 0.30(d)

Customer Reviews