It’s not always an easy thing to speak up. Having been in the position of critiquing someone else’s novel where the alien that our heroine met cute was–you guessed it, described as big, muscular, scary and obsidian black though of course ultimately discovered by (blonde) heroine to be smart and super-advanced I squirmed and flinched but finally came out and said it.
Don’t do this.
I didn’t explain myself too well and that was the end of that particular critiquing partnership.
There’s been talk on the twittersphere this week by smarter people:
This piece in the Atlantic
This rebuttal on Flavorwire
Which led me to this list of 50 sic-fi novels everyone should read and, incidentally, of which over 30 writers at a quick count are both white and male and of the female writers about a third children’s writers (nothing wrong with children’s writers. Love! But a field historically more open to women than scifi)
The fabulous Nalo Hopkinson here
And as she says, if you reallywant to get very cross about stuff, you could google racefail 09
As a reader I only discovered writers like Octavia Butler, Nalo Hopkinson, Eleanor Arnasson and Jo Walton through reading pieces about representation and diversity in scifi (Ursula le Guin, Madeline L’Engle and Diana Wynne-Jones I was fortunate enough to have discovered growing up.) While the Neil Gaimans, Terry Pratchetts, China Mievilles, Phillip K Dicks, Ray Bradburys are all just out there! On the literary scene! You may not have read them but you’ve heard of them.
The reasons for this are complex, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t talk about them.
In the 21st century gender and race are still a matter of life and death. The rise of misogyny, the terrible case of Trayvon Martin shows that we should keep talking, keep challenging. Keep pushing.
However uncomfortable it makes us feel.