Sunday, July 25, 2010

awesome ladies and not-white dudes in science fiction and fantasy

My Little Catwoman Pony

So I was making a flippant tumblr post (yes! I have a tumblr! It is fun!) about SFF My Little Pony Mods. And I love the mods! My Little Han Solo is great! Love the My Little Cthulu! Am totally all there for the My Little Aragorn! But I noticed that, of the fifty My Little SF Pony Mods, only nine of them are lady ponies (and two of them are Princess Leia - ANH white flowy dress and slave outfit). Nine fierce SFF presenting as women ponies, and forty-one not. Also, coincidentally, no humanoid-and-not-white ponies (Cthulu and the My Little Predator Pony don't count), except perhaps for a Klingon pony in blackface (And don't talk to me about how ponies are purple and blue and shit, you know what I mean).

That sucks, SFF. That sucks, and so does the fact that I was compiling a list of ponies I would like to see, and started to struggle a little bit. This is why I've been trying to expand my SFF, give preference to SFF where the characters are women and/or not white; mostly, I have been trying to find SFF featuring some awesome not-white-dudes. And it may not surprise you to learn that it is hard!

What I have so far read this year that fits into this category:
The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, NK Jemisin
The Gaslight Dogs, Karin Lowachee
The Circle of Magic Series (four books), Tamora Pierce
Code Noir, Marianne De Pierres
The Ladies of Grace Adieu, Suzanne Clarke (this sort of fits into this category)

What I am hoping to read this year:
Dragoneye Reborn, Alison Goodman
Herogiri, Mainak Dhar
A Banquet for Hungry Ghosts, Ying Chang Compestine
The Dragon and the Stars (eds Derwin Mak and Eric Choi)

And I'd like to get my hands on a copy of the Apex Book of World SF, and So Long Been Dreaming: postcolonial Science Fiction + Fantasy, but I don't know if I'm going to be able to do so.

I read a lot of books in a year, and that I'm hopeful to hit such a small number by the end of the year says a lot, I think. It says, I don't know that many not-white-dude protagonists in SFF. It says, there are not that many not-white-dude protagonists in SFF.

I don't really have an answer to this. It's just something that bugs me.

Some reading:
The White Male Nerd & his Cult of Awesome.
Sirayn asked me to comment on John C. Wright's latest fail (warning for all kinds of gender/trans/feminist fail), and when i asked who he was, she told me he was "a multi-published Nebula finalist SF author with Tor." And I thought, gee, what a surprise, another random asshole on the internet turns out to be a highly decorated white male SFF author. It's not the genre's fault that when the general standard of male behavior often defaults to "asshole," it's going to attract a lot of red-headed stepchildren.
When Will White People Stop Making Movies Like "Avatar"?
Critics have called alien epic Avatar a version of Dances With Wolves because it's about a white guy going native and becoming a great leader. But Avatar is just the latest scifi rehash of an old white guilt fantasy. Spoilers...

Whether Avatar is racist is a matter for debate. Regardless of where you come down on that question, it's undeniable that the film - like alien apartheid flick District 9, released earlier this year - is emphatically a fantasy about race. Specifically, it's a fantasy about race told from the point of view of white people. Avatar and scifi films like it give us the opportunity to answer the question: What do white people fantasize about when they fantasize about racial identity?
Space: One More Imaginary Frontier
Not because, as she implies, SF has a long and noble tradition of AUs, which the SF tradition has taught her not to take personally, ("Men get killed all the time in comics, how is it sexist if a woman is?") but because SF has carefully cultivated a space for a myth that is steeped in racism: the frontier. Terra Nullius, the new world, the edge of the map, the discovery of new lands, all of these have been a lie for all of human history.
Shame is an essay by Pam Noles on whitewashing in SFF stories.
Dad had his own names for the movies.

What's this? 'Escape to a White Planet?
It's called 'When Worlds Collide.' I'm sure I sounded indignant.

'Mars Kills the White People.' I love this one.
Daaaaad. It says it right there. 'War of the Worlds'. I know I sighed heavily, but was careful to turn back to the tv before rolling my eyes.
And the followup; The Shame of Earthsea: A Public Response To What Some Folks Are Saying About That Essay
My identity as a black person is challenged every day in genre. But what my parents took the time to do (once they realized they couldn't do anything to cleave me from genre), was help me question why me and my kind weren't in those fantasy worlds. That question, once recognized, evolved into my finding ways to take action and claim my right to exist and participate in those worlds."


  1. Am I being too obvious if I suggest anything by Octavia Butler and various manga?

  2. I have read one Octavia Butler (Wild Seed), and I hope I don't lose any cred by admitting that I didn't really enjoy it.

  3. That's my favourite of hers too, never mind then :) I mean you might like the others, they're all different. But I get the feeling we have very different tastes!

  4. Hi, I'm always on the look out for SF with strong female characters - a long time favorite author of mine is Elizabeth Moon, especially The Serrano Legacy / Connection / Succession but I think they are more space opera than fantasy. I love the Serrano series because it's an exciting (to me!) mix of dramatic adventure, family and 'system' politics and some very interesting ideas about hierarchies - no aliens though, everyone is humanoid. Also, in paperback the three omnibuses come to approximately 1240 pages - I love it when a good book is also long!