For years, under-appreciated female, intersectional writers have been challenging the real world's discriminatory systems of sexism and racism by deconstructing them in fiction.
The end of Game of Thrones signaled a definitive end for a significant portion of speculative fiction geekdom.
HBO's adaptation of George R.R. Martin's series,
Game of Thrones, ran for eight seasons and definitely proved its weight as a cultural and literary favorite. However, now that all the noise over the finale has settled, it's time to consider other fantasy writers who have been overshadowed: namely female writers and writers of color.
For all its popularity, Game of Thrones has been controversial for issues including its characters of color (and lack thereof), excessive and problematic depictions of sexual assault, and questionable treatment of its female characters. In response to the series' lack of racial diversity, particularly Asian representation, George R.R. Martin once wrote in a blog, "Westeros is the fantasy analogue of the British isles in its world, so it is a long long way from the Asia analogue. There weren't a lot of Asians in Yorkshire England."
Why is it that, to people like George R.R. Martin, it seems more realistic to have dragons in Medieval Europe than it is to include people of color? As Jane Epsenon, television writer and producer, once said, "If we can't write diversity into sci-fi, then what's the point? You don't create new worlds to give them all the same limits of the old ones."
It should come as no surprise that female writers and authors of color have been playing the speculative fiction game just as long (and just as well) as their white, male counterparts, from Angela Carter to Diana Wynne Jones to Octavia Butler. However, there's a continued disparity between female and male authors in terms of widespread recognition and commercial success.
For instance, if you Google "Best Fantasy Writers," the majority of the results consist of a pretty standard image: white, cisgender male authors, like J.R.R. Tolkien, Terry Prachett, and Brandon Sanderson. But as far as female and racially diverse authors, what female (who isn't J.K. Rowling) has reached the same level of commercial success and cinematic treatment as George R. R. Martin or Neil Gaiman, whose various TV/movie adaptations include current television series, Good Omens and American Gods, as well as Netflix's upcoming project Sandman?
Ursula K. LeGuin
Nnedi Okorafor s "Binti"
With that being said, to say that no female, intersectional authors are earning acclaim in the fantasy genre would be a grossly inaccurate (and insulting) statement that would overwrite the contributions of various talented writers such as Tamora Pierce, Ursula K. Le Guin, N.K. Jemisin, and Nnedi Okorafor. However, these authors' success have unfortunately been the exception and not the rule in a field that's oversaturated with the same type of authors who share the same homogeneous experiences. As N.K. Jemisin says, there's frankly a "racist and sexist status quo."
For years, under-appreciated female/intersectional writers have been challenging the real world's discriminatory systems of sexism and racism by deconstructing them in fiction. As writers who stand at the intersection of multiple marginalized identities, their work reflects on oppressive power structures and unequal power dynamics with personal insights that are too valuable to dismiss or overlook.
Take, for instance, the Six of Crows duology by Leigh Bardugo. This series, set in the city of Ketterdam (inspired by 17th-century Amsterdam), features a diverse cast of characters, including multifaceted females, LGBTQ+ characters, and badass disabled characters, as well as a nuanced and compassionate portrayal of survivors of sex trafficking. There's also N.K. Jemisin, who made history as the first author to win three consecutive Best Novel Hugo Awards for their Broken Earth series, which examines intersecting systems of privilege and power; it's become a staple in Afro-futuristic literature.
For the record, it doesn't make one a "bad person" to like Game of Thrones, or even other media with problematic elements. However, it's important to step back from the stuff we love and look carefully at its shortcomings, as well as the culture that surrounds it.
As a literary culture, we are always hungry for stories. And some of us have been starving for stories that feature characters resembling us, whether that be in terms of body diversity, racial diversity, neurodiversity, LGBTQIA+ representation, or more. Winter has come and gone, and while we can still appreciate the stories we've been handed, we need to pay more attention to the stories that feature diverse and female voices, because embracing them now makes room for more inclusive voices in the future.
For more diverse speculative fiction recommendations:
- N.K. Jemisin (African-American) - The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms (Book #1 of The Inheritance Trilogy)
- Leigh Bardugo (Jewish, Disabled) - Six of Crows duology
- Tomi Adeyemi (Nigerian-American) - Children of Blood and Bone Series
- Helene Wecker (Jewish)- The Golem and the Jinni
- G. Willow Wilson (Muslim) - Alif the Unseen
- Nnedi Okorafor (Nigerian-American) - Who Fears Death
- Daína Chaviano (Cuban-American) - The Island of Eternal Love
- Malinda Lo (Chinese-American, LGBT+) - Ash
- Charlie Jane Anders (LGBT+) - All the Birds in the Sky
- Erin Morgenstern - The Night Circus
- Black Women in Speculative Fiction - Exploring the Work of Chesya ... ›
- Is the future female? Fixing sci-fi's women problem | Books | The ... ›
- 11 Incredible Female Sci-Fi Authors You Need to Read - Geek.com ›
- Lisa Yaszek: We get the history of women in science fiction ... ›
- Must Lists: 50 Science Fiction Essentials Written by Women ›
- Women in science fiction: If Mary Shelley invented the genre why ... ›
- Impactful Female Science Fiction and Fantasy Authors ›
- What happened to all the women in science fiction? - Chicago Tribune ›
Now that Banksy's "Flower Thrower" trademark has been revoked, anyone can profit off his work.
This week anonymous street artist Banksy officially lost the European trademark to his "Flower Thrower" mural.
The guerrilla graffiti artist had engaged in a prolonged legal battle with the small greeting card company Full Colour Black—which was selling products featuring the image of a Palestinian man throwing a bouquet of flowers. But now a panel at the European Union Intellectual Property Office has announced their decision to revoke the artist's trademark on the grounds that he could not definitively prove himself to be the mural's creator.
With social media giants like Facebook and Instagram woven into our daily lives, does a boycott have real weight?
Kim Kardashian has nearly 190 million followers on Instagram, where she's in the habit of posting at least once a day.
If her followers were a nation, they would be the 8th most populous on the planet. But the citizens of Kardashia (Kimeroon? The United Kimdom?) will not be receiving any diplomatic news or thirst traps from their dear leader on Wednesday.
As she announced on Instagram on Tuesday, she is taking part in the one-day boycott of Instagram and Facebook organized by Stop Hate for Profit and promoted by other celebrities, from Katy Perry to Leonardo DiCaprio.