There is a strange emptiness to life without myths.
I am African American — by which I mean, a descendant of slaves, rather than a descendant of immigrants who came here willingly and with lives more or less intact. My ancestors were the unwilling, unintact ones: children torn from parents, parents torn from elders, people torn from roots, stories torn from language. Past a certain point, my family’s history just… stops. As if there was nothing there.
I could do what others have done, and attempt to reconstruct this lost past. I could research genealogy and genetics, search for the traces of myself in moldering old sale documents and scanned images on microfiche. I could also do what members of other cultures lacking myths have done: steal. A little BS about Atlantis here, some appropriation of other cultures’ intellectual property there, and bam! Instant historically-justified superiority. Worked great for the Nazis, new and old. Even today, white people in my neck of the woods call themselves “Caucasian”, most of them little realizing that the term and its history are as constructed as anything sold in the fantasy section of a bookstore.
These are proven strategies, but I have no interest in them. They’ll tell me where I came from, but not what I really want to know: where I’m going. To figure that out, I make shit up.
a quote from AN EVENING WITH OCTAVIA’S (Butler) BROOD, as summarized by author Crystal Connor (via Balogun Ojetade, blackspeculativefiction)
All social change is speculative fiction because we’ve never seen a world without poverty, never seen a world with total equality, never seen a world without prisons…therefore activism IS speculative fiction, it’s visionary fiction because we are writing a world we’ve never seen but a world we’d like to live in.
It’s hard and unapologetic but it’s hopeful because it can cause us to move; it wakes up and shows us that change is possible.
i want science fiction and fantasy to engage more critically with concepts of beauty, desirability, and attraction as it pertains to dehumanized (but human) bodies. people of color, (and black people specifically), disabled people, trans women. which of our bodies are acceptable and which are not. which bodies survive into the future and which don’t. who among us are disappeared from the past, and from alternate timelines, and strange non-existent worlds?
i suppise i would just like to understand the mechanisms at play that make it so skin tinged bright green from copper based blood is considered attractive when brown skin is not?
why gigantic, pointed ears or tails or fur but not amputated limbs?
hobbits but not little people? dwarves but not someone small because of muscular dystrophy or ALS?
alien languages cool but deaf accents awkward?
why are hearing aids or cochlear implants or service animals less conceivable in scifi futures than bionic people, when it is we, the disabled, who have become masters of integrating biology and technology?
it’s been said before. but the oppressed — and i think this is especially true of black people and disabled people — live lives closest to scifi realities, even though we are consistently written out of sci fi futures.
if we interrogate our attractions, romantic or aromantic, sensual or sexual or asexual, who we want to sit next to, who we will hold hands with, who we stare at and who we avert our gaze from, it becomes clear how much institutions use concepts of beauty and desirability to uplift the humanity of some folks and to gut it out in others.
what i’m trying to say is that a lot of us have the ability to love and like and be into a lot of things, but our internalised -isms makes us accept or believe certain bodies as ugly or wrong at face value.
we generally use ugly to mean less human, and i think there’s potential for scifi to really wrestle with that and unpack it.
Juliet E. McKenna being brilliant (so what else is new) on the SFWA shoutback, public perceptions of the field, and equal access to offensiveness, sexism and idiocy. (via dduane)
With the upcoming fourth season of A Game of Thrones about to hit TV screens, you will soon see ‘If you like reading GRR Martin, why not try these authors?’ displays going up in bookshops. I will give a book of mine, of their choice, to the first person who can send me a photo of such a display that isn’t entirely composed of male authors. Because I’ve yet to see one. I have challenged staff in bookshops about this, to be told ‘women don’t write epic fantasy’ Ahem, with 15 novels published, I beg to differ. And we read it too.
But that’s not what the onlooker sees in the media, in reviews, in the supposedly book-trade-professional articles in The Guardian which repeatedly discuss epic fantasy without ever once mentioning a female author. That onlooker who’s working in a bookshop and making key decisions about what’s for sale, sees a male readership for grimdark books about blokes in cloaks written by authors like Macho McHackenslay. So that’s what goes in display, often at discount, at the front of the store. So that’s what people see first and so that’s what sells most copies.