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Take Us To Your Chief And Other Stories

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  408 ratings  ·  88 reviews
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 As ...more
Paperback, 160 pages
Published October 2016 by Douglas & McIntyre
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EmmaEnglish Let's see. To me, the very best is "I Am... Am I" because it emcompasses existential questions and artificial intelligence. That's probably your story…moreLet's see. To me, the very best is "I Am... Am I" because it emcompasses existential questions and artificial intelligence. That's probably your story "in-between." "Take Us to Your Chief" and "Petropaths" are deeply rooted in sci-fi tropes which makes them the most "science-fictiony." Time-travel and alien invaders definitely strike me as typical of science-fiction. "A Culturally Inappropriate Armageddon" taught me the most about aboriginal issues, so I would pick that one for a cultural commentary. (less)

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Jan 24, 2017 rated it liked it
In both his Foreword and Acknowledgments, author Drew Hayden Taylor enthuses about his lifelong love of science fiction and his long-held desire to curate a collection of sci-fi short stories told from a Native perspective (adding that he decided to write the entire collection himself when an anthology from various Native writers proved impossible), and this enthusiasm for classic sci-fi is evident on every page of TAKE US TO YOUR CHIEF. On the surface, this means that most of these stories rely ...more
Carolyn Walsh
Oct 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I loved this collection of nine science fiction short stories told from the perspective of Indigenous people. They include common ScFi topics: hostile invaders from outer space, friendly alien visitors, time travel, artificial intelligence, life in a planetary space colony, a dystopian future, all told through the viewpoint and involvement of Indigenous characters. The author displays much wit and wisdom in his writing.

The short story collection is written with a great sense of humour, pathos a
Apr 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
Collectively, these stories expose and address the many complicated challenges faced by modern aboriginal communities, and through the unrelenting forward-thinking optimism of science fiction, Taylor looks to the future for answers. Take Us to Your Chief is a unique collection that offers a potent reminder of why science fiction is one of the most critical literary mediums.
Ai Miller
A solid collection; Taylor manages to hit up many subgenres within sci-fi, and also make First Nations issues clear. The stories kind of all have the same voice (which makes sense, since he's written all of them) but I would say the plots are different enough that they don't all feel the same, necessarily. Some are very funny, and some are deeply moving (the one about the man in space whose grandfather has died in particular jumps out at me) and some are tense. It's a short, solid collection for ...more
Big Al
Drew Hayden Taylor serves up sci-fi stories with some First Nations flair. Great ideas, but I didn't love the execution. ...more
Morgan Dhu
Nov 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Take Us to Your Chief is a collection of science fiction short stories by Ojibwe novelist and playwright Drew Hayden Taylor. While I don’t see any reason why the thought of an indigenous writer working in the science fiction genre should raise any eyebrows, Taylor felt his choice deserved some explanation, because he says in his Introduction: “Part of my journey in this life both as a First Nations individual and as a writer is to expand the boundaries of what is considered Native literature. I ...more
Ram Chadalavada
Jul 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
In the world of science fiction, non-mainstream cultural perspectives are usually rare. So to find a collection of short stories from a native American author is a reason to take notice. And when the stories are stylistically inspired from legendary science fiction authors such as Isaac Asimov, Arthur C Clarke and Ray Bradbury, it is a reason to celebrate. Just look at the quality of story themes: I I is about a sentient artificial intelligence who identifies with 'All things have spirit' ...more
Jessica McKenney
He should have watched more Star Trek as a kid. Star Wars doesn't really prepare you for a situation like this. This was definitely a Star Trek moment.

This short story collection was so unique: it basically takes classic sci-fi storylines (aliens coming from outer space, superhuman powers, time travel, artificial intelligence, armageddon) and gives them an Aboriginal perspective. I thought many of the stories were excellently interwoven with Aboriginal experiences and cultural practices. While n
Yvonne Aburrow
A perfect combination: Indigenous science fiction short stories. Hilarious, poignant, and brilliant. Some classic sci-fi tropes but in Indigenous contexts, so I never quite knew how the story was going to turn out. Some stories were set in Curve Lake First Nation, where the author lives; others were set elsewhere. There's a Haudenosaunee story, which definitely had an unexpected ending. This was such a good read, and I'll definitely enjoy reading it more than once.
Mar 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
3.5/5 stars, rounded up to 4 for the sheer anarchic joy of Indigenous science fiction as a genre.

I want so much more of this in my literary diet. As much fun as these stories are, they also made me furious--furious at the treatment of Indigenous people all across Turtle Island and beyond. I think that makes the stories all the more valuable. That anger is important. (But so is the incredible sense of humour that Taylor imparts in every one of his stories.)
Tiberius  Ichabod McCoy
May 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I LOVED this book. It was exactly what my little Indigenous Sci-Fi Nerd heart always wanted. I wish I could read each of these short stories as full length novels. I want to see more and more Indig Sci Fi!!
I enjoyed reading this book, overall. It was an interesting collection of sci-fi short stories with a First Nations twist. There is humor, horror, and interesting comments/observations throughout the book. Some of the stories were stronger than others (which makes sense). I think I would have liked to have seen the anthology he would have put together if he had had the money and resources to pay other Indigenous authors for the works they would have submitted.

The two "Armageddon" stories were fu
Sep 01, 2017 rated it it was ok
There was probably one extremely excellent, possibly two, good stories in here if Taylor focused his ideas. Even then, it would have required better writing. I so wanted to love this: Aboriginal science fiction is a super idea and some of the ways he fused traditions with different sf ideas was awesome - two or three times I was genuinely impressed. But the stories were generally dull, and the writing unbearably flat, and sophomoric. I'd enjoyed one of his plays years ago, and seeing his name on ...more
Astra Astrid
Oct 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Science Fiction told from a Native point of view sounds like an oxymoron. But why should it? Just because they didn't get a chance to develop advanced technology before they were invaded? There's far more to good SF than advanced technology. There are ideas. And there's how technology affect people.

All of this is a leadup to saying that I think this collection was a wonderful idea, and I'm sorry that Taylor wasn't able to run with his original idea of making it an anthology. Unfortunately, econo
Sherry Ramsey
May 01, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebooks, read-2017
An intricate mix of sly humour and sadness, I enjoyed these stories partially because they helped open a window for me that had previously been closed. I do love to see the many incarnations that science fiction can take, and I'm glad that the author set his hand to these. It's not all fun and games as many stories strike a serious note, and the stories swirl with poignant undercurrents. However, there are not enough intersections where science fiction and aboriginal fiction meet and travel toge ...more
Jul 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
I tend to prefer my sci-fi in longer form, but since I also crave sci-fi reads from outside the dominant voice, I thought I'd better give this a whirl. Glad I did because while the stories were, indeed, short, there was much to enjoy. Just enough Indigenous cultural bits were thrown in to spice up the usual sci-fi tropes. I'd say more, but then I'd just spoil all the stories. Instead, I'll just finish with I think I'll have to try some of the author's other works, surely one of those will be lon ...more
Nancy Clark
Oct 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
I picked this book up at the last Brockton Writers Series in Toronto, where author Drew Hayden Taylor spoke, because I thought, of course, indigenous petroglyphs carved into the rocks in the Ontario wilderness are key codes to a time-travelling portal. I mean what else could they be? Seriously, this book of indigneous sci-fi stories is imaginative, and in parts funny and touching. In between the laughs, I fell hard for the lost, troubled teenage boy in "Mr. Gizmo" and my heart raced when reading ...more
Feb 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
If I rated on if I liked it, it would be 2 or 3 stars but that isn't fair to author as I am not often into sci fi. It had some hidden content coming through his stories that was very intriguing. Interesting to mix social issues with sci-fi. I give it 4 stars as it is definitely worth a read and I am sure if I enjoyed sci fi, I would liked it better too. ...more
Nov 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
I really liked Stars and I Am...Am I; two stories that were thought provoking and entertaining and truly drove home the potential creativity of indigenous sci-fi. The rest of the stories were pretty solid, with one or two being a little ho hum. And that cover is killer and made me go out and buy a little robot buddy of my own.
Mar 22, 2021 rated it liked it
I really love so much about this collection. Although I think that the concepts are where the strength lies, I did thoroughly enjoy reading this.
This author has a definite love of sci fi and some great ideas, but I'm not always a fan of his writing style.

1. A Culturally Inappropriate Armageddon
The idea of alien fingerprints on an Indigenous language could have potential (if it can avoid being too Stargate), but I didn't particularly like this story. It felt incomplete to me, and a lot of the details didn't end up mattering.
2. I Am...Am I
I really liked this one. The idea that a modern artificially intelligent being would embrace First
Parastoo Hosseini
Jun 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I liked this book because it explores and gives the reads some information about Haudenosaunee social life and their culture. The story parallel with the incident of colonization of Aboriginal people by Europeans which gives a chance to readers to look at the concept of colonization from a native perspective which shows the physical and psychological damages to their culture and identity as the aliens come in contact with people living on Earth and invade the Earth . This book describes the rang ...more
Matthew Lloyd
I stumbled across Take Us to Your Chief on my library's science fiction shelves while I was reading Moon of the Crusted Snow and picked it up because I wanted to broaden my concept of what Drew Hayden Taylor called "Native sci-fi" beyond "that famous episode from the original Star Trek series called 'The Paradise Syndrome'" (p. viii) and the couple of recent, lauded books I've read. There's a lot of ideas that I really liked in here, especially as the volume goes on, but the limited variatio ...more
In brief: Taylor gives the most classic science fiction tropes—alien invasion, time travel, superheroes, etc.—some much-needed indigenous perspective.

Thoughts: This is another book I really wanted to like but didn’t, and again, that’s largely my own fault because I know I don’t care a whole lot for most short stories. On a technical level, these were okay but nothing special, except for a moment here and there, and from the perspective of someone used to reading SF/F stories, the ones here are k
Adrian Halpert
Jul 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
I always look forward to reading different perspectives on SF, so this book caught my interest the moment I saw it. We definately don't have enough indigenous SF, and I had a wonderful time romping through the stories in this collection.
A couple of standouts really grabbed me. The first, "A Culturally Inappropriate Armageddon", concerned a trio of young people who want to set up a radio station and accidently invite an alien invasion through the radio broadcast of traditional songs. Especially t
Haha, well I don't read a lot of short stories and often not as much my thing but I reeallllyy liked this one! Probably the best compilation I remember reading. I laughed, I cried, I was on the edge of my seat, lots of really cool ideas and reinterpretations. Definitely enjoyed it and also really liked the different family relationships it included. Not the usual that you see and personally really jived with me.

Anyway ratings per story:

A Culturally Inappropriate Armageddon - 3.5/5

I Am...Am I - 4
Nov 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
Drew Hayden Taylor is an author, playwright, journalist and filmmaker from the Curve Lake First Nation in Ontario. A fan of classic sci-fi, he explains in the foreword to this slim short story collection that he set out to “take traditional… science fiction characteristics and filter them through an Aboriginal consciousness.” This effort came after years of fruitless attempts to find a market for an Indigenous creator driven sci-fi anthology, and the subsequent decision to just write an entire c ...more
Joshua Faber
Aug 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
I really wanted to like this collection of Native American-themed Science Fiction stories, but I was worried after the first two stories that it wasn't meant to be. Luckily, outside the first two, which are both kind of clunky and awkward, the rest are really very good, mixing a blend of personality, science fiction ideas, and enough social commentary to make you ponder the meeting of the past, present, and future. Overall, a very good collection, though I probably would have reordered them to m ...more
Sharon Smith
Native Sci-fi!
So funny! So heartbreaking! So much social commentary! Natives certainly have a different perspective on alien invasions, that's for sure.
Plus, serious thoughts about being a Nature worshipper in outer space. How *do* you recognize directions when North, South, East, & West don't exist? As a Druid, I have to ask myself, how do you sacrifice to the World Tree when you're not on a world? Or honor the Nature Spirits when you're in a vacuum?
Also, I knew all those dreamcatchers were
Steven Buechler
Sep 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book does something more profound that give us a collection of sci-fi stories.  The stories have the classic element of any science-fiction story (Aliens, possessed toys, artificial intelligence, governmental control mechanisms) but by adding Indigenous themes to these stories, there are some new truths and ideas that come forward to us non-Indigenous readers. These may be simple stories but they do what great literature should do.
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During the last thirty years of his life, Drew Hayden Taylor has done many things, most of which he is proud of. An Ojibway from the Curve Lake First Nations in Ontario, he has worn many hats in his literary career, from performing stand-up comedy at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C., to being Artistic Director of Canada's premiere Native theatre company, Native Earth Performing Arts. He has b ...more

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Here’s some trivia for your next vacation get-together: The concept of the summer “beach read” book goes all the way back to the Victorian...
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“He sounded like a lot of the youth in our community, stuck between the past and the future. The true goal is finding enough of both to make your life worth living.” 1 likes
“First Nations and science fiction don't usually go together. In fact, they could be considered rather unusual topics to mention in the same sentence, much like fish and bicycles.... To me, sci-fi was a world of possibilities. As a fan of writing, why shouldn't my fascination extend to such unconventional works? It was still writing, still literature in all its glory, but here they used different tools to explore the human condition, be they aliens, advanced technology, or other such novel approaches.... I wanted to take traditional (a buzzword in the Native community) science-fiction characteristics and filter them through an Aboriginal consciousness.” 1 likes
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