Getting diversity into Sci-Fi/Fantasy
In early Sept., I began posts on cultural appropriation, Young Adult Sci-Fi/Fantasy and latino lit. Here's more follow-up to that. If you're a brown writer reader or publisher/editor, you should check out Stacy Whitman's Grimoir series that began with Beyond Orcs and Elves: Diversity in Science Fiction and Fantasy for Young Readers
Whitman is publisher of Tu Books, an imprint of Lee & Low Books that publishes fantasy, science fiction, and mystery for children and young adults. To give you an idea of why you should check it out, here's excerpts:
"SF [science fiction, but let’s include fantasy too] has either totally ignored women or presented them as squeaking dolls subject to instant rape by monsters—or old-maid scientists desexed by hypertrophy of the intellectual organs—or, at best, loyal little wives or mistresses of accomplished heroes. Male elitism has run rampant in SF. But is it only male elitism? Isn’t the “subjection of women” in SF merely a symptom of a whole which is authoritarian, power-worshiping, and intensely parochial?"
Whitman surveys "Old-school epic fantasy," i.e., white male-dominated, that has lists of such "good" novels.
The second part of the series, gets more into the question of minority readers and topics. In the video by author Chimamanda Adichie, called “The Dangers of a Single Story,” you'll find this:
"She talks of how, when she was growing up in Nigeria (it was Nigeria, right? The books she read most often (always?) featured white kids who ate apples. So when she started to write, she wrote stories about white people who ate apples, even though she had never seen an apple. - A powerful talk about the importance of finding your own voice as a writer and how important to our body of literature a wide variety of voices is."
Next comes, "Black books don't sell? In a world in which Will Smith and Denzel Washington are doing just fine, why is this a problem in our books? There’s a lot of work to do in making sure that kids in poverty also see themselves mirrored in books."
"We often talk in multicultural book circles about the idea of mirrors and windows—mirrors to see your own experience reflected back, windows to see into another world. Author Zetta Elliott recently added a dimension to that which I like, the idea of “sliding glass doors” to walk in and experience someone else’s world. That’s what reading is, isn’t it? That’s where true interculturalism begins."
I'll highlight points from that third installment next week.
Young Adult books in 2014?
Over at About.com's Young Adult Books, Children's Books Guide, Elizabeth Kennedy interviews the president of the Young Adult Library Services Association (part of the American Library Association) about trends in teen reading for the coming year. Among others things, is this:
"I've been at publishing previews where the books written with female protagonists outweighs books with boy protagonist 9 out of 10 times. Ditto for books with characters of color or written by characters of color. So the publishing market has definitely fallen into a rut, and they're missing out on drawing new readers.
By Monday I will have attended 3 writers conferences and a four-day writer's retreat within 5 weeks. I'm whipped. So. . .
Es todo, hoy,