Without a Map was published in conjunction with the appearance of Mary Anne Mohanraj and Nnedi Okorafor when they were the guests of honor at the WisCon in 2010. Mohanraj you might be familiar with due to one of her major previous publications entitled Bodies in Motion. Without a map collects a variety of Mohanrajs writings that include poetry, short stories and creative nonfiction. In this respect, there is less of a connection to science fiction or speculative fiction, but one piece, Jump Space, involves definite science fiction tropes. In that particular short story, Mohanraj explores a three-person romantic relationship (Joshua, Sarita, and Kate) and the instabilities involved in that when one of the three individuals, Sarita, falls in love with an entity known as the Katchari. The Katchari seem to be some sort living sex slaves that exude pheromones. Individuals own Katchari and can lease them out for a fee. The problem that comes up is that Sarita cant simply take someone elses Katchari. Instead, she leases one out for thirty years through the service of five years of her labor. This trade does not bode well with Kate and Joshua as they are all raising a newborn child. Thus, they hatch a plan that will allow them to take Sarita back.Nice. :-)
The creative nonfiction sections are all quite illuminating, especially as they relate to the ways that Mohanraj conceives of her ethnic identity and the attachments she has or has not made with Sri Lanka. One of the concluding sequences, The Whatever Columns, Parts I and II, is further devoted to the problematics of writing characters of color. I was particularly elated by Mohanrajs bluntness: Is it important to have diverse characters in your fiction? I say yes. For the sake of your readers, of any color, who want to occasionally take a break from the straight white male protagonists of so many books (35). Statements like this one are peppered throughout the whatever columns. I very much look to the full publication of Mohanrajs next work, especially her meditations on Sri Lanka.