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Inspired Scribe
kamas716
Posts: 1,387
Registered: ‎09-28-2011

Diversity in SF&F

This article in The Guardian has been getting quite a bit of discussion on FaceBook.  Personally, I think the author is either 1) Not reading widely enough or 2) Deliberately trolling to get readership.

 

I can't help but notice that some of the biggest hits of this century are not from "straight, white western men".  J.K. Rowling, Charlaine Harris, Stephanie Meyer, Suzanne Collins, Veronica Roth, etc.  Some of my favorite authors within the genre are women: Barbara Hambly, C.J. Cherryh, Sarah Hoyt, Anne Rice, Morgan Llewellyn.  Then there are Arthur C. Clarke, David Gerrold and Samuel R. Delany, all gay men; or Ursula LeGuin, Ann Crispin, Leigh Brackett, Andre Norton, Lois MacMaster Bujold and Marion Zimmer Bradley, all hugely recognizable names.

 

Then he asks "...why they mainly write about straight white males?"  Well, for one, not all of them do.  Some of bigger series have been about females, and not always written by women (Honor Harrington by David Weber comes to mind).  Historically, some of the most iconic books haven't been about that part of the population, either.  Seems to me Johnnie Rico from Starship Troopers wasn't white.  I never finished Stranger In A Strange Land, but I got the impression Michael Valentin was somewhat fluid in his sexuality.  I'm sure there are plenty of other examples.

 

I also take issue, somewhat, with this line; "One of the most telling tweets about the whole business came from London-born, US-based editor and writer Maurice Broaddus, who said simply: "Outside the #worldcon hotel, brown people everywhere. At #worldcon, it takes two hands to count us."  Comparing the general population to a smaller subset with a particular interest/ability is a little disingenuous.  In order to attend something like a convention you need 1) pocket money 2) time 3) interest in genre.  You need all three, and any number of things could impede one of those requirements.

http://www.goodreads.com/kamas716
Inspired Bibliophile
deesy58
Posts: 2,431
Registered: ‎01-22-2012
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Re: Diversity in SF&F

Don't forget Connie Willis, winner of both the Hugo and Nebula awards.  Also, Richard K. Morgan writes scifi with an openly gay male theme that is explicit and graphic in his series that begins with The Steel Remains.  Nebula Award winning authorNicola Griffith writes excellent futuristic novels with an openly Lesbian theme. 

Inspired Bibliophile
deesy58
Posts: 2,431
Registered: ‎01-22-2012
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Re: Diversity in SF&F

[ Edited ]

I didn't see a byline, so I don't know who wrote that article.  I get the distinct impression, however, that the writer's science fiction library is limited to the Star Trek and Star Wars novels.  I have read a number of scifi books in recent years that feature heroes and heroines with black or brown skin, non-Western ethnicity, and non-traditional sexual identities.  The theme of the article is nothing more than crap, IMO. 

Distinguished Bibliophile
MacMcK1957
Posts: 2,103
Registered: ‎07-25-2011
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Re: Diversity in SF&F

[ Edited ]
The days when female authors had to hide behind pseudonyms like "Andre" Norton or James Triptree, Jr are long gone. The most prolific hard SF author today may be Kristine Kathryn Rusch, who also edited F&SF, one of the three major magazines in the genre, for years. Minorities of every ethnicity are routine, and as for openness to sexual diversity, writers like Samuel Delany (both gay and black) broke that barrier decades ago. This is ignorant nonsense with no relevance to the F/SF landscape as it exists today.
Frequent Contributor
WONK
Posts: 45
Registered: ‎09-06-2012

Re: Diversity in SF&F

In an interesting side note--I use initials for my pen name to hide gender not because I am a female but because I am a male. If you are a female and a beginning author, it is much easier to get published than if you are a male and just entering the market.  There are a multitude of organizations, niche publishers and local support groups that assist begining female authors.  I have not found a single group focused on helping new male authors.  A gender neutral name means you can actually get reviewed by every group, including the majority of the 'local' writing groups that have an open bias for woman authors.  Using initials for writing has always been practiced because there is always a bias based on the sex of the author.  The bias varies depending on the current market the author is writing in -- Romance markets have a bias that hinder male names.  The adult male action genre has a bias for male names...

 

The major reason why I use a gender neutral writing name is the fact that in most genres the primary customer and author is female.  With the gender neutral name there is no starting bias so even if the female reader has a gender bias the cover page doesn't hint at the author's gender and hopefully the story can then stand on its own. 

 

There is gender bias but it is substantially different than surface appearances make it seem.  Few people understand that it is actually the female reader that pushes the marketing campaigns from the major publishers into using male author names in many genres because they are the major customer for the stories.

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Inspired Bibliophile
deesy58
Posts: 2,431
Registered: ‎01-22-2012
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Re: Diversity in SF&F


MacMcK1957 wrote:
The days when female authors had to hide behind pseudonyms like "Andre" Norton or James Triptree, Jr are long gone. The most prolific hard SF author today may be Kristine Kathryn Rusch, who also edited F&SF, one of the three major magazines in the genre, for years. Minorities of every ethnicity are routine, and as for openness to sexual diversity, writers like Samuel Delany (both gay and black) broke that barrier decades ago. This is ignorant nonsense with no relevance to the F/SF landscape as it exists today.

In addition, Rusch is one hell of an author!