a body-positive coloring book
Authored by Nicole Lorenz
There’s a whole universe of body types out there, and they all deserve to be represented. This coloring book features eighteen fat scifi heroines doing what they do best: trekking across the time and space, blasting off into adventure, and saving the day.
HOPKINSON AND BUTLER FOR ALL THE AWARDS
ALL OF THEM
Well also Beloved because Beloved, and if this list is articulated as ~books with magic~ then well. A question though: why not Frankenstein? I’ve not read it and so please someone correct me if you will as it seems I’m wrong, but I had thought it was supposed to be really truly worthwhile and deeply felt and about classism? Or maybe I’m confused and thinking of something else.
Oh, I have no beef with Frankenstein. It’s an important book. It’s just
so goddamned OLD and BORING (not necessarily as a story, but as a choice). It’s like NPR asked the neckbearded masses to name a really important female science fiction writer and they were like “…Uh…that lady who wrote Frankenstein?” BEIGE. BEIGE BEIGE BEIGE.
Like, look at Tolkien. He was not the first fantasy writer by far. But he’s the one that half the writers on that list are aping. This is the equivalent of putting George MacDonald or E. R. Eddison or James Branch Cabell at #1 instead of Tolkien. No, fuck that, it’s the equivalent of putting Tolkien at #1 instead of Gene Wolfe.
Their gender politics are about the same anyway.
Shouldn’t snark before I’ve had breakfast. Sorry, hope this explains things. :P
From Wesleyan University Press (that’s right, not Tor, not Del Rey, but an academic publisher so you know it’s fancy):
Early science fiction has often been associated almost exclusively with Northern industrialized nations. In this groundbreaking exploration of the science fiction written in Latin America prior to 1920, Rachel Haywood Ferreira argues that science fiction has always been a global genre. She traces how and why the genre quickly reached Latin America and analyzes how writers in Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico adapted science fiction to reflect their own realities. Among the texts discussed are one of the first defenses of Darwinism in Latin America, a tale of a time-traveling history book, and a Latin American Frankenstein. Latin American science fiction writers have long been active participants in the sf literary tradition, expanding the limits of the genre and deepening our perception of the role of science and technology in the Latin American imagination. The book includes a chronological bibliography of science fiction published from 1775 to 1920 in all Latin American countries.
K. S. Augustin on the work/parenthood balance, writing genre in Malaysia, and why she doesn’t call her work “sf romance”.
The way I see it, the men write “space opera”, but the women write “sf romance”. Heinlein writes about incestuous love across time-travelling generations and it’s still “science-fiction”. A woman writes about a love triangle in a charged political environment and it’s “sf romance”? Puh-lease.
“I consider most of my work science fiction, even the stories that look like fantasy. To me, what makes a story science fiction is not whether the universe has the same laws as our universe or not, but whether it is a universe in which the scientific method works. That is a more interesting distinction for me.”
Growing up, my favorite thing about sci-fi/fantasy was the way they would take minority/outsider narratives and put them in the forefront. But the older I get and the more I understand my own identity as a black first generation pansexual cis-woman, the more I start to resent that same tendency.
There’s nothing wrong with being inspired by certain narratives and making them your literary own and there’s nothing wrong with minority groups claiming those narratives as their personal own but there is something wrong with creators and fangirls/boys (usually privileged in that same area) who try to hold that narrative up as transferable to the real world instead of as tools to understand similar issues in the real world. Especially when a lot of magical creatures have roots and explanations in folklore or myth, thereby making the politicization of those narratives problematic.
My general problem is two-fold.
- I am not a werewolf. When I bite someone, they do not become gay like me. Depending on where I bite them and their reaction, they might have been gay already, but I cannot make them gay.
- I am not a mutant. I cannot shoot beams out of my eyes, I cannot fly, I do not have claws, I cannot read your mind or heal myself at will. My race or sexual orientation is not a blessing and a curse because there are no cool side-effects. I have a higher chance of getting stopped in a moving vehicle than most and some loud people think if I set foot into a church I’ll internally burst into flames but I’ve never heard of anyone who wanted those things.
- I am not a vampire. I do not need the blood of other living things to exist. Furthermore, gay and black people might be imagined to be a threat to public safety but vampires inherently are. Just because all of your favorites choose not to feed on humans doesn’t mean that’s not how vampires are rebuilt to function. I am not rebuilt to do anything; this is how I was born in the first place. And it could never be logically argued that I am a public threat.
- I am not a house elf in a world of wizards, muggles, squibs, giants, etc. Do I even have to explain why this is offensive for someone to try to apply this in a non-allegorical sense. I am not of a different species than everyone else in the story. I am not an elf.
- I am not a baby alien stranded in a foreign land just because my parents are immigrants. This is 2011. Y’all should know African insides are the same as European insides by now. My blood is the same as your blood, etc. Because I was born on this planet and so were all of my ancestors.
- And so on and so forth. Just because the way the fictional mainstream reacts to this outsider group is the same as the way the real world majority reacts to a particular real world group does not mean that the two groups are themselves internally, structurally, or functionally similar.
Allegories are often times great and can be incredibly powerful, especially when it comes to offering perspective and raising awareness toward certain issues. I’m not attacking the use of them in fiction. I’m attacking the idea that anyone could understand the intricacies or nuances of a POC or non-heterosexual existence just because they’re well-versed in things that do not exist.
Which brings me to:
Know your damn history.
By which I mean: Know the history of people who aren’t you.
Too often, people use the allegory argument when it’s convenient and shuffle it aside when it’s not (or, to be frank, when they no longer know what to say because they never knew much about the subject in the first place). And then proceed to make the most offensive statements or arguments possible because they’re not thinking.
To use an easy example, don’t say that Hermione shouldn’t bother trying to free house elves because the house elves were made to serve wizards and want to serve wizards anyway. That is the combination of two of the oldest pro-slavery arguments in history and if you’re going to otherwise argue that the house elves are an allegory to slavery then you need to know that.
Now, in the literary sense, house-elves seem to be some kind of hobgoblin-brownie mix for the late twentieth century reader, so if you choose to refuse to politicize the things you read and want to argue on the grounds of literary origin, you still need to be careful how you say things. Because you are talking to real people with real histories who may not have the privilege of reading about house elves and only seeing folklore. It’s okay if you make mistakes or slip up. That’s how you learn. It’s not okay to refuse to deal with the fact that other people’s personal experiences might color their readings, as if your knowledge and understanding of Scottish/English/Irish folklore was implanted while you were still in the womb.
Lastly, if anyone makes comments like, “It upsets me how Creator XYZ has the time to pat themselves on the back over Allegory/Metaphor XYZ but doesn’t have time to actually include, or flesh out, POC/LGBT/etc characters,” they are not missing the point.
They are making the point. And you should listen.
Yes. Yes. Yes. AAAAAALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL of this. All of it. All of the words.
“Science fiction makes talking about politics fun.”
– Berianne Bramman, a Think Galacticon organizer, in Time Out Chicago. Quoted for truth.
Afro-Futurism is an exploration and methodology of liberation, simultaneously both a location and a journey. The creative ability to manifest action and transformation has been essential to the survival of Blacks in the Diaspora. “Black Secret Technology (The Whitey on the Moon Dub)” Julian Jonker writes, “Black Americans have literally lived in an alien(-n)ation for hundreds of years. The viscerality of their abduction is equaled only by the ephemerality of the bonds which the disciplinary state has since imposed on them.” Similarly, Boykin notes that in this context, “freedom is futurist.”
Chicago’s history is rooted in liberation struggles; the concrete jungle gives rise to a fiesty, rag-tag, Mad-Maxian, blue-collar style that respects hard work and survival of the fittest. We are alchemists in this city of steel, akin to the Yoruba god Ogun, fusing metal to metal. We claim a real space traveler astronaut Dr. Mae Jemison, the first Black woman in space and graduate of Chicago’s Morgan Park High School. In the tradition of grand-forefather Sun Ra who graced our lake shores with his mystical genius, Chicago “shows out” with the sanctification of conduit Avery R. Young’s sweet nectar sweat as he navigates between states of being in his signature Sunday Mornin’ Juke Joint performance style. Chicago Afro-Futurism is revolutionary discopoet Khari B. levitating at the HotHouse long before will.i.am teleported from Grant Park to CNN headquarters on November 4, 2008. It is Krista Franklin’s multi-layered visual planes with giant children spinning LPs on oceans; spliced figures from antique photos become extra-terrestrial as she coaxes new stories from their faded mysteries.
Chicago prophet Curtis Mayfield’s train in “People Get Ready”; Sun Ra’s Solar Arkestra; George Clinton’s Mothership; “Black Moses” Marcus Garvey’s Black Star Line: these vessels of transformation rise from the Black mythos. Sun Ra’s musical ascension coincided with the inauguration of space travel; his contemporaries included young, Chicago-born Gil Scott Heron whose percussive poem “Whitey On the Moon” reflected those left in Earth’s tenements whom Ra came to rescue in Space is the Place. “A rat done bit my sister Nell but whitey’s on the moon…”
Afro-Futurism is hot, moist, black nutrient-rich, deep in the bowels of memory and soul iterations. It lives in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. “The central fact in Black Science Fiction…is an acknowledgement that Apocalypse already happened: that (in Public Enemy’s phrase) Armageddon has been in effect.”[i] In Afro-Futurism, however, “everything is alive and transformed as opposed to being destroyed.”[ii] Afro-Futurism says: even “solid” matter is made of slow-moving molecules; Jesus walked on water and you can, too.
Via Charles Tan.
“Actually,” Tak was saying, “I suspect the whole thing is science fiction.”
“Huh? You mean a time-warp, or a parallel universe?”
“No, just…well, science fiction. Only real. It follows all the conventions.”
“Spaceships, ray-guns, going faster than light? I used to read the stuff, but I haven’t seen anything like that around here.”
“Bet you don’t read the new, good stuff. Let’s see: the Three Conventions of science fiction—” Tak wiped his forehead with his leather sleeve. (Kid thought, inanely: He’s polishing his brain.) “First: A single man can change the course of a whole world: Look at Calkins, look at George, look at you! Second: The only measure of intelligence or genius is its linear and practical application: In a landscape like this, what other kind do we even allow to visit? Three: The Universe is an essentially hospitable place, full of earth-type planets where you can crash-land your spaceship and survive long enough to have an adventure. Here in Bellona—”
“Maybe that’s why I don’t read more of the stuff than I do,” Kid said.”
– Samuel R. Delany, Dhalgren IV.5
Thinking about science fictional cities…