I really enjoy your So You Want To Write A Fantasy posts. Do you have any recommendations of good examples of fantasy/sci-fi books or movies that I can check out?
I’m going to preface this by saying: Yes, I do. I have not read everything, but there’s plenty of things out there that have been recommended to me, or read by others or places that have good recommendations. I like to be upfront with people - I am half White (Mayflower) and Half Hispanic (Mexican American/Yaqui descent). It has been infinitely easier for me to connect in the Fantasy realms of my WASP American heritage than my Mexican American heritage. I think I’m hyper aware of how race is portrayed in Fantasy because I only have half of myself represented in the media. My mother (Mexican American) grew up reading and watching White Fantasy and Sci-Fantasy, which in turn, is what I read/watched.
My knowledge is limited, but I think I can give you some ideas; mostly resources that come up with these such lists plus some links to Authors of Color and a Few Specific Books:
- Black Science Fiction Society
- Mind Blowing Sci-Fi by POC
- TOR’s Mindblowing SF by Women and POC
- ColorLines: The Ultimate 21st Century POC SF List
- SF/Fantasy by POC
- 50 Books by Queer People of Color
- 50 Books POC DeLiCious Lists
- Feminist SF Net
- SF Bookswap
- Dead Bro Walking (likely to have lists and commentary somewhere…)
- ABW - Media SF + Fantasy tag
- 50 Books POC Lists
- 50 Books Community Recs
- American Indians in Children’s Lit
- A reflection on the 50_POC Challenge + List
- Tu Books (A SF/Fantasy Imprint for Children’s & YA Novels)
- African American Science Fiction
- Speculative & SF in Color (comments are Recs)
- SF Works by People of Color
- So Long Been Dreaming: Post-Colonial SF & Fantasy (an Anthology)
- AFRO Sci-Fi
- The Carl Brandon Society (Spec. Fiction)
- SBattle AFRO Futurism/SF
- Ursula K Le Guin
- Laurence Yep (Asian Children’s/YA Fantasy & Historic Fiction)
- Diversity Rollcall: SF/Fantasy
- Color Online
- SFF YA POC list
- Fantasy Magazine’s Recommended Reading List: Characters of Color
- Cosmos Latinos: A SciFi Anthology
- Dark Matter: Reading the Bones (an Anthology)
- YA Fantasy of Color
- Fangs for the Fantasy: Reviews from a SJ perspective
- Seeking Avalon’s POC Carnival
- Animation in Asia
- DesiLit Magazine
- Metempsychosis of the Machine: Science Fiction in the Halls of Karma.
- Secret Identities Graphic Anthology of Asian American Superheroes
- Also check out these Asian Indie Comic Creators: Bryan Lee O’Malley, Kean Soo, E.J. Su, Amy Kim Ganter, Kazu Kabuishi, Gene Yang
- Seriously check out Gene Yang’s American Born Chinese
- Khmer Comics (Cambodian Comic Reads)
- Magical Realism is Fantasy written in Spanish.
- Stealth (Comic)
- Race in American Science Fiction
- Race in Space: The Representation of Ethnicity in “Star Trek” and “Star Trek: The Next Generation”
- Star Trek and History: Race-ing toward a White Future
- Gender and Sexuality in Star Trek: Allegories of Desire in the Television Series and Films
- Decoding Gender in Science Fiction
- Native American Author Project
- On Eurocentricity in Fantasy Fiction
- YA Fantasy Diversity
- Black & Brown Characters in Anime & Manga
- East of Elvendom: POC in SF/F Art
- 5 Sci-Fi movies really about Racism
- 10 Reasons why Steampunk Fans should watch Avatar: The Last Airbender
- Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood (for the portrayal of the Ishvalans as parallel to the Japanese Ainu people and for the Buddhist undertones). Race is important in this series.
- Dr. Who (specifically 10th Doctor for Martha Jones. Frankly she’s the only reason why I continued watching.)
- Misfits (TV Series)
- Attack the Block (Urban Zombie Sci-fi)
- Star Trek (different series for different characters of color as well as the movies)
- Read Racialicious for POC in pop culture. (they watch a lot of True Blood)…
- Heroes before the show went downhill
- Fringe, especially for Astrid
- Sailor Moon for an all Japanese cast of badass girls.
- Miyazaki anything but I insist you watch Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke
- John Woo’s Red Cliff (the international version. It’s not quite fantasy, it’s more like a Chinese 300/Troy. Badass anyways.)
- Aida | One By One
- Mulan (Disney version AND the Chinese film from 2009)
- Steam Boy
- Hulu by genre
- Netflix - > Foreign -> Fantasy & Sci-Fi
- Eon & Eona (which I have not finished reading but started, and liked.) The white author goes into the books she read for research on her webpage here.
But wait, we’re not done. Here’s some more things to get you started. This links focus on Myth, Legend, History, and Folktales:
- Warriors: Asian Women
- Warriors: African Women
- The Rest of ColorQ’s Articles which include: Same-sex/Female history and culture
- The Beautiful Way of the Samurai: Same-sex love
- Gay Tales of the Samurai
- Comrade Loves of the Samurai
- The Pillowbook of Sei Shonagun
- Tales of Genji
- Monkey: Folktale of China
- Male Colors: The Construction of Homosexuality in Tokugawa Japan
- Passions of the Cut Sleeve: Homosexuality in China
- The 3 Kingdoms (China)
- Journey to the West (China)
- The Ramayana (India)
- The Epic of Giglamesh
- Eskimo Folktales
- Favorite Folktales Around the World
- Myths and Legends of the Sioux
- Tibetan Buddhist Folktales
- Joseph Campbell’s Mythology books
- Myths and myth-makers: Old Tales and Superstitions Interpreted by Comparative Mythology
- The Mythologies Of Ancient Mexico And Peru
- The Popol Vuh (Mayan)
- Egyptian Mythology
- African American Folktales: Stories from Black Traditions in the New World (Pantheon Fairy Tale & Folklore Library)
- Diné Bahane’: The Navajo Creation Story
- An Illustrated Dictionary of Gods & Symbols (Ancient Mexico and the Maya)
- Inanna: From the Myths of Ancient Sumer
- African Folktales (The Pantheon Fairy Tale and Folklore Library)
- Encyclopedia Mythica
- Useful Notes
That’s a small sample. Read. Read everything. You probably had to read Shakespeare or Beowulf or Chaucer. Now read the Tales of Genji or Popol Vuh. Read books on religion - read Buddhist Scripture or Hindu tales. Find the Mythology section of your local library or bookstore and park yourself there. Read stories. Many myths or folk tales are only a page or two long, and you can read them in short bursts, putting the book back when you’re done. Open up a book on Daoist philosophy or Confucianism or read about the Aztecs. Explore the Fertile Crescent. Read about the Mongolians, examine Art that isn’t western, isn’t European, and then figure out why the very core Philosophies of art were different. Discover perspective. Read about Africa, and not just Egypt. Study Archaeology or Anthropology or History. Take Art History. Read Non-western Literature Canon. File away everything for later use.
If you live in the US, go to a local Native Reservation and buy out their folktale book section. Or their history section. (Always patron Natives rather than buying rip off works! Boycott Urban Outfitters. You know the drill!) Hell, go to any culturally specific place, and buy their books. Chinatown, Little Mexico, the neighborhoods have books and libraries and they cling to them, because keeping this identity and cultural connection alive can be hard sometimes.
Walk into a Comic Convention. Tell yourself you cannot buy anything that doesn’t:
A.) Have a Protagonist of Color and/or
B.) Was written by a POC.
See how much you can buy besides a whole lot of manga or anime. (If you buy Manga or anime, buy the kind that contains specific cultural narratives.)
Actually, if you’re curious, I encourage the buying of Manga and Anime over American mainstream comics in general. Buy the hell out of Indie comics that feature POC/LGBTQ/etc. But be forewarned about DC/Marvel and their imprints: they will fuck your favorite characters over. Frequently. The fandom will not welcome you as a POC/Woman/WOC/LGBTQ unless you only hang out with those folks. The rest of them? They’re privileged assholes who will question your right to play in their sandbox or critique their toys. They’re rude, and they’re also in charge of the companies. Finding an American DC/Marvel comic written, inked, and colored by women is like finding gold lying on the sidewalk. It’s really rare. Finding that in Manga or Anime? Some of the most popular series are written by women. At least half the series on any given shelf are by women. You’ll find more LGBTQ stories in Manga/Anime than you will in any American comic. They may not all be portrayed in the best or most thoughtful light but you’re talking about having maybe one or two characters versus having entire ‘genre’ sections dedicated to these kinds of characters. Yes, Yaoi/Yuri can be fetishizing. There are also lots of really good romances within those genres or within the regular mainstream stories that are just presented as part of the story. (Hello Sailor Moon.)
If you don’t want to say, read a Buddhist scripture, pick up Tezuka’s Buddha. Look for the dozens of adaptions of different popular myths and legends into Fantasy series. Watch Wuxia films. Enjoy Toku live action. Find a place to see Bollywood films. Watch Nollywood films. Search for Novellas that have Fantasy elements or Korean Dramas or Japanese Dramas or Mandarin Chinese Dramas. Take advantage of Hulu’s Anime and Korean Dramas. Watch Generator Rex (he’s half Mexican.) Watch shows with subtitles. Movies with Subtitles. Steal away in the pages of History books. Read critical literature of your favorite series: read Harry Potter Critiques or Lord of the Rings Critiques or A Game of Throne Critiques. Read TVtropes and critique them.
Ultimately, that’s my good recommendation. Read everything.
Sophie Okonedo and Zoe Kravitz in After Earth.
Sophie Okonedo will be playing Will Smith’s wife and Zoe will be playing their oldest daughter.
Pictures found here x
I’M SO EXCITED!
I wish he would produce more films like the kinds he starred in and started introducing the next generation.