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Old 02-17-15, 01:22 AM   #1
azteclady
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Queers (and women) destroy science fiction!

All the things I never knew...

It so happens that Lightspeed Magazine--winner of the 2014 Hugo Award, also a finalist another four times--decide to test the idea that queer people do not belong in science fiction. Behold:



Interestingly enough, the kickstarter for this issue raised over $54,000 in less than a month.

Which seems to sorta, kinda, in a way...contradict the idea that non-heteronormative characters do not belong in science fiction. But hey, what do we know?

What I didn't know is that last year, women had their turn at destroying science fiction--those girl cooties, dontcha know
It could be said that women invented science fiction; after all, Mary Shelley wrote what is considered by many to be the first science fiction novel (Frankenstein). Yet some readers seem to have this funny idea that women don’t—or can’t—write science fiction. Some have even gone so far as to accuse women of destroying science fiction with their girl cooties. So to help prove how silly that notion is, LIGHTSPEED MAGAZINE's June 2014 issue—our fourth anniversary issue—will be a Women Destroy Science Fiction! special issue. And we will also—for the first time in LIGHTSPEED's history—have a guest editor at the helm.


The original announcement of this special issue generated so much excitement that we wanted to find ways to include even more amazing science fiction by women. So—with your help—we're going to make the special issue twice the size of a normal issue of LIGHTSPEED.
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Old 02-19-15, 02:50 PM   #2
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Re: Queers (and women) destroy science fiction!

Women have been absolutely cleaning up in recent years for various SF and Fantasy awards. 3 of the last four Hugo awards for Best Novel have been won by women: Ancillary Justice by Anne Leckie, Among Others by Jo Walton and Connie Willis' Black Out.

I have read the first two and they are both great, well deserving of their wins.

Women have also won 3 of the past 4 Arthur C Clarke Awards: Ancillary Justice again along with Zoo City by Lauren Beukes (good book, but check out Shining Girls, even better!) and Jane Rogers' The Testament of Jess Lamb.

All this to say: women authors are doing just fine in SF, thank you very much!
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Old 02-19-15, 03:21 PM   #3
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Re: Queers (and women) destroy science fiction!

Well, a handful of women have been recognized for a handful of years--because they write damned good science fiction, and fantasy, and fiction in general--but I disagree that "women authors are doing just fine" (in the sense of how they are treated, judged and regarded by the 'mainstream')

(where 'mainstream' means 'mostly male audience/gaze')
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Old 02-19-15, 03:29 PM   #4
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Re: Queers (and women) destroy science fiction!

And this is a good reason to pass on our favorite sci-fi to our girls as well as boys. My niece is already into it, thank goodness.
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Old 02-19-15, 06:26 PM   #5
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Re: Queers (and women) destroy science fiction!

Hi! I'm new, so I'm just jumping in here if that's ok?
This is really interesting and I'll be interested in that issue when it's complete.
The first non-heterosexual literary character I can remember reading about was in a SF/Fantasy novel: Lythande by Marion Zimmer Bradley.
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Old 02-19-15, 06:33 PM   #6
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Re: Queers (and women) destroy science fiction!

It's not only okay, it's wonderful! I like Bradley's writing very much. I know I've read a few of her books, but all I can remember now is The Mists of Avalon.
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Old 02-19-15, 07:37 PM   #7
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Re: Queers (and women) destroy science fiction!

She also did Firebrand which is a good one too. It's a retelling of the Trojan war and, like Mists of Avalon, it's from the perspective of a minor female role. She also did the Darkover series.
There's also a female SF author who wrote about a world populated with gender shifting people. Can't remember title or author, but it's an older book.
I wonder about why it is so difficult to accept a-typical characters in a genre that sorta specializes in a-typical everything.
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Old 02-19-15, 07:39 PM   #8
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Re: Queers (and women) destroy science fiction!

Left Hand of Darkness--Ursula Leguin. Won a nebula and a hugo I think.
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Old 02-19-15, 07:46 PM   #9
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Re: Queers (and women) destroy science fiction!

It is a good question, and the answer I come up with are not easy or comfortable.

Most writing that becomes canonical (in any genre, fiction or non-fiction, yo!) in Western literature was written by straight white (mostly dead) dudes. Ergo, the output tends to reflect them.

I found one of the objections to non-hetero characters ("why didn't you mention he was gay/she was a lesbian when s/he first appeared? saying later that s/he is, is retrofitting") glaringly points to this: apparently, any character is automatically straight (and white) unless the authors goes out of his/her way to say so.

edited to add: I just wrote a tangential rant to a review (elsewhere) on this topic. A character shows up, and the author introduces her thus:
The five foot ten transgender Asian was a better girl than Poppy half the time, now included.
I mean, seriously--why was that necessary? Because otherwise, the author assumed, readers would think said friend was female and white.
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Old 02-19-15, 08:09 PM   #10
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Re: Queers (and women) destroy science fiction!

Quote:
Originally Posted by azteclady View Post
I found one of the objections to non-hetero characters ("why didn't you mention he was gay/she was a lesbian when s/he first appeared? saying later that s/he is, is retrofitting") glaringly points to this: apparently, any character is automatically straight (and white) unless the authors goes out of his/her way to say so.
That's the default--straight white and usually male. If you begin a story without any kind of other indicators, most people assume those markers.

I read an article once about a woman who was reading The Hobbit to her daughter. A few chapters in, her daughter began insisting that Bilbo was a girl. To her, the main character of that story was a girl just like her, so her mother continued reading the story and let her continue with that perspective. It seems natural when we are kids to identify ourselves with the central character or characters, perhaps projecting some of our identity onto them.

So, perhaps at some point, we begin to make assumptions about the characters (likely unconsciously) based on the stories we've previously read/heard/seen. We've been indoctrinated, so to speak.
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