02 July 2015

Fiction will Rise: Minority Characters in Fantasy and SciFi

Since childhood I've been in love with fantasy and science fiction, devouring the mystical peoples, places, and languages that sprang from the most fertile imaginations.

There was just one problem: every character, every heroine, every prince, every fairy, witch, vampire, changeling and dragon... all of them, all of them in their most human guise, were white.

But wait! You say - it's fantasy! They could have skin of any colour!

Yes. They could. But they didn't. They were the most beautiful, perfect, and ethereal versions of caucasian-ness. Of white-ness. With pale porcelain skin and long straight hair (often blonde). They were blue or green eyed (vibrant, glow in the dark, or neon - but still blue or green) with perfect thin noses, and slender frames.

Where was I then? I would wonder. Why did no one that looked me exist in these magical worlds? Was dark skin just not magical, or not beautiful enough to be ethereal? Could it ever be?  Some authors wouldn't include anyone darker than toast colour (with the prerequisite straight hair and green eyes) in their whole universe. You can create a whole universe - with different races, and magic, and impossibilities around ever corner - and yet no one is dark skinned? No one has features like mine?

Is it so hard to write?

Night dark eyes, in an oval face framed by a wreath of thick, tight curls that spring from the scalp with all the exuberance of a leap toward heaven. Long slender fingers and full lips with a fuchsia tint that has nothing to do with make-up. Warm brown skin, deep and velvelty with the richness of mahogany and bronze.

If I was going to put myself into a fantasy novel, that's how I'd do it. That little paragraph is all you really need right? How would you describe yourself if you were a fantasy character?

Thankfully, there are some great authors that agree with me - it's not so hard. Dark skinned fae, and brown skinned goddesses, copper-toned heroes, and a little boy with Bantu-knots that just might be part dragon. Fros, and curls, and beauty! I've discovered a whole world full - several worlds full. These are my favourite authors and fantasy sci/fi novels featuring brown and Asian characters:

The Assassin's Curse (Series of 3 Books) - Cassandra Clare

The Earthsea Trilogy (plus 2 accompanying stories)- Ursula K LeGuin (Most of Ms LeGuin's other novels also feature dark or brown-skinned characters, her entire body of work is well worth a read.)

The Darkest Part of the Forest - Holly Black

The Lunar Chronicles - Marissa Meyer

Bordertown - Edited by Holly Black (theres's loads of Bordertown stories, all of them are amazing, and most feature someone dark(er) skinned.

Daughter of the Flames - Zoe Mariott

Frostfire - Zoe Mariott

Feel free to share any recommendations you might have! 

01 July 2015

The Myth of the Cat Lady

So much has happened in the months since my last post. Maybe it's something about the fresh, unsullied beginning of a new month that makes me want to write something to remember the old one by, but lately, time has been the enemy. 

I believe there's a quote that says 'Time is the enemy of youth' (and if there isn't, there is one now.) 
That's been on my mind lately. 

I'll be 25 this birthday - and a far cry from the angry 18 year old who started this blog. I wonder sometimes at how easy it is to forget years - whole years of my life where I remember nothing but single, isolated moments. I feel like I go through phases where I'm obsessed with specific things (probably everyone does...) 

But of all the stupid, insignificant things that have been on my mind in the past few months, my ongoing singledom has been the most prominent. 

How ridiculous is that?

I thought about it this morning and realised that it's not really that I want to share my life with someone. In fact, I probably don't want to share anything - especially not my time, with anyone at all. The feeling of fear and anxiety comes from loss. 

I'm secretly afraid of what I'm losing. 

My friends are disappearing. They're getting married, getting pregnant, and getting away into a world where I can't follow. 

In five years, or ten, they'll be completely gone - out of my reach with families of their own. 

Who will I travel with? Who will I hang out with on weekends? Who will I complain about adulthood to? 

Who will be my friend? 

That's what I'm afraid of - not being 'single', but of what being single represents. Of being left out of something that everyone's going into. 

I thought we'd all be going towards the same things at the same pace forever. Or maybe I only hoped that that would be the case. Instead, I feel like we're going our separate ways gradually - so gradually you wouldn't even think so at first. 

I don't personally know if I can manage to be with someone long term. I have no idea what I'd do if I was in love. I know I have the capacity to love someone genuinely, and with my whole heart - but who knows what would come of that? 

It's the loss of my friendships that scares me. Love itself is a mythical thing, like magic, or unicorns. It might just be real - but who really can tell?  

09 February 2015

On being PC

Is it so hard? I wonder at the people constantly ranting about how everything is so 'PC' now and the 'PC' brigade,  and I would like to address these two things.

First, why is it difficult to be politically correct? To simply not use someone's colour as an explanation of their character, to simply respect how people want to be called? To not use their appearance or beliefs as a source of amusement or humour and to just respect them as the originators of their cultural traditions? None of this even requires any thought: it's as simple as meeting a Hindu, or a Nigerian, asking a few polite questions and following up any lingering curiosity with ten minutes of honest research. Then apply that knowledge with the understanding that everyone is different and leave it at that. What is so hard?

Next, the PC brigade. The so called enforcers of politically correct speech and attitudes who infringe upon the 'rights' of the dominant population to be as racist, intolerant, and abusive as they like. Uh huh. The simple fact are these:

A. You are the ones who must police your population because you are largely incapable of doing the above on your own. (See previous section on the ease of actually being PC) 

B. Why on earth should you be allowed to abuse other races when you became dominant by subjugating them in the first place? Is that not enough for you?

C. Not everything offends everyone. This is  a given - but if it offends me, I reserve the right to let you know. We all have that right. Use your discretion to work out whether it's a minor thing, or a major one. Maybe follow up with that research I mentioned. Then discuss. The N-word? HUGELY offensive to me. Pork? Not so much. But I respect the right of others to be offended by the latter and not the former. So long as they don't use the former in relation to me. Done and dusted.

This subject has been on my mind so much lately, as I keep hearing things like 'Ugh, [insert minority race, religion, orientation] wants everything! Now we can't say [insert slur/micro-aggression/random ridiculous thing] in case we offend them! No fair!

And you know what? You're right. It isn't fair. It isn't fair that you feel like you have the right as the dominant group to be offensive. It isn't fair that you occasionally flag up stupid things as being 'offensive to X minority' as a way to deflect from things that are much more trying and much more worrisome for us. It isn't fair, and you're the only ones who can fix it. Again, and as always. How much does that suck?

02 February 2015

Why haven't you posted?

By jingo, I have no idea.

It's been a very busy few months - is that an excuse? It's the one I pick up the most often for why one person or another has utterly failed to do XYZ thing they were scheduled/supposed/required/forced/talked into. Have I some how become one of those people who lives by excuses like 'I'm so sorry, I'm just really busy right now" as though the other party isn't, couldn't be, and has no idea what the words mean?

On a lighter note, now that the excuses are out of the way, it is my first post of the new year! Traditionally I like to do my New Year's resolutions... except... I haven't got any just at the moment.

I suppose you might say I have just one for the whole year this year, and that would be 'What do you want? Now what do you need?'

It's not a resolution as such, but it's my theme for 2015: what I want, versus what I need, and how to manage the expectations of one, to make way for the contentment brought on by the other.

Happy (much belated) 2015 everyone!

09 June 2014

Job Hunting: The rejection of the masses

Why must it always end in tears and bread?

Yeah. This is pretty much how I feel right now.

And this is what I'm doing about it.