Saturday, March 14, 2015

Points about spec lit written for all peoples

NPR's list of Top 100 Science-Fiction & Fantasy Books had one USican Spanish-surname, Diana Gabaldon. I left a comment that there really were zero, since Gabaldon, to my knowledge, doesn't call herself anything but "American" and doesn't write about any Latinos. At public readings, she insisted her name be pronounced as an English word. So, 0--zero--USican Latinos on another best-of list. [Actually, not even Octavia Butler was included!]

Kids and adults reading this may not realize the message NPR is sending. It's the message of same-ole exclusionary, white-privilege, not only that Latinos don't write spec-lit, but that none of it compares to The 100. To use a kid-expression, it made me want to throw up in my mouth and deliberately swallow it.

Pero, ya basta. Times are changing. The old White Guy Hero Saves the World is being chipped away.

No matter what you read or write, pumping out the classic tropes, classic plots, cardboard characters and stereotyped fiction is the receding wave of the past. The ivory tower of USican literature has been spray-painted with the graffiti art of people of color. The cornerstones crumble.

To glimpse the promise of the future, here's excerpts from articles that are worth reading in their entirety. Again, no matter which genres interest you, nearly all these articles can serve your art. Most of them are by women--some white--which possibly says something about who's carrying the good fight. Hint: Not enough old white guys have found their huevos and jumped in.

10 ways white people are more racist than they realize by Kali Holloway

Here's links to the science, the studies, the books, the facts that'll convince everybody but racists and right-wingers. Demographics that can be used in any fiction.

Set Truth on Stun: Reimagining an Anti-Oppressive SF/F by Daniel José Older

A great roundtable discussion of spec-lit authors, led by DanielJosé.

Putting the I in Speculative: Looking at U.S. Latino/a Writers and Stories by Sabrina Vourvoulias

"The U.S. Latino/a speculative fiction writer is largely invisible to the speculative mainstream editor, publisher, reviewer and anthologist. U.S. Latin@s are writing anyway. Fictions haunted by mestizo, Afro-Latino/a and indigenous ghosts, legends and magic. Fictions of future cities built on the foundations poured by Latino/a immigrants and Mexicans whose roots in the United States go back more than 400 years. Fictions populated by sinuous and spiky sentences in English mixed with Spanish, with Spanglish and Nahuatl and Chicano Caló."

They are not ghosts: On the representation of the indigenous peoples of North America in science fiction and fantasy by Maureen Kincaid Speller
Read this before you stick a Native American character in your next story. Or if you want to know what those Indians are doing in that novel. 
"In the same way that Hollywood relegates Native Americans to the Old West, so the Ghosts [novel] exist mainly in the Empire’s past. They have no present, and apparently no future either."

Boys Read Girls by Ana S.
Enough with the excuses about why you didn't put girls in your YA or children's book.
"The problem that needs to be fixed is not kick all the girls out of YA, it’s teach boys that stories featuring female protagonists or written by female authors also apply to them. Boys fall in love. Boys want to be important. Boys have hopes and fears and dreams and ambitions. What boys also have is a sexist society in which they are belittled for 'liking girl stuff.' Male is neutral, female is specific.

On sniping, women and SF by Brenda Cooper
"Most of the men who are part of the problem in written science fiction simply don’t know it. They don’t mean women writers harm, they aren’t meeting in back rooms plotting against us, and they aren’t dreaming about misogynistic ways to express themselves. So when someone twitter-slams them over a clueless phrase, they’re either embarrassed, or more likely, defensive. When they’re defensive, they bite. I do too.
"We don’t want them to bite. We want them to change."

Writing Women Characters as Human Beings by Kate Elliott

"I get asked if I have any advice for writers on how to create believable female characters while avoiding clichés, especially in fantasy novels where the expectations and settings may be seen to be different from our modern world. There is an 'easy' answer to this. Write all characters as human beings in all their glorious complexity and contradiction…. Three Basic Pieces of Advice: 1. Have enough women in the story that they can talk to each other….

Writing Strong Female Characters? That's A Great Goal, But I'd Rather Write Strong Kick-Heart Characters by Catherynne M. Valente

Kick-ass females are not the ultimate.
"I have never once been asked how I write male characters, nor how to write strong, kickass male characters, nor whether I’m concerned about making the men in my books vulnerable as well as tough. Yet our culture at large seems to peer into novels (and movies and television) as through the bars of a cage at the zoo: Here we see the endangered strong female protagonist in her natural habitat! What strange markings she has! What goes through the head of such a bizarre creature?"

Rewriting the Future: Using Science Fiction to Re-envision Justice by Walida Himarisha
This article doesn't just shred the envelope; it throws it away to develop new packaging.  "We started an anthology with the belief that all organizing is science fiction. When we talk about a world without prisons; a world without police violence; a world where everyone has food, clothing, shelter, quality education; a world free of white supremacy, patriarchy, capitalism, heterosexism, we are talking about a world that doesn’t currently exist. But collectively dreaming up one that does means we can begin building it into existence."

Es todo, hoy, but not for el futuro
RudyG, a.k.a. Chicano spec-lit author Rudy Ch. Garcia

No comments: