Sunday, August 26, 2012

[TSS] Introducing: A More Diverse Universe Blog Tour

Thanks to Alex for creating this graphic!

I've spoken on this blog (and in other forums) about the lack of diversity in fantasy fiction, particularly fantasy fiction of the epic nature.  If epic fantasy has diversity, it is often present in a fashion that mirrors the stereotypes of Medieval Europe, with Viking-like invaders from the North and Infidels from the East and uneasy peaces and petty wars with those that look most like the heroes of the stories.  This is unfair for many reasons that I hope I don't need to enumerate here.  And of course, there are absolutely amazing authors whose books are populated by characters of every size, shape, color, and species.  But it's still difficult and frustrating to be a fantasy reader who comes up against the same tropes in every book.  Because while fantasy novels can be, well, fantastic, they can also be very repetitive and tell the same story with different character names.  And I can't help but think that at least part of the reason is because of the lack of diversity in fantasy book authorship.  Because it is hard to break into the fantasy genre as a new author, generally.  And even more difficult if your book is about a person of color.  And most difficult of all if you yourself are a person of color writing stories about characters of color.

Sherman Alexie

Did you know that there are more books in publication about people of character that are by Caucasian authors than there are by people of color authors?!  That means that if you are white and write a book about an Indian girl named Aarti and her life in Chicago (and perhaps a fantastical journey to Fairyland) you are more likely than I am to get that book published.  That's messed up.

Adolfo Bioy Casares
And so a small group of bloggers got together to create an event to fight this.  And, as bloggers do, we decided to organize a blog tour.  For one week in September (the week of the 23rd), we want ALL OF YOU fantasy/sci fi/magical realism readers (with blogs and without) to read a fantasy/sci fi/magical realism novel written by a person of color.  And to write a review of that book.  You know as well as I do that books succeed based on word of mouth and mentions and conversation, and this is where bloggers can help the MOST.  Just read one book.  And share your thoughts on that one book.

Hiromi Goto
I know your TBR list is huge.  I know your commitments are many.  I know that there are so many things on which you must take a stand, and it can be exhausting to make reading a political activity.  But this is so important to me, and I really think it should be important to you, too.  None of us lives in a monochromatic world, and yet the fact that terrifying hate crimes still occur makes it clear that we do not fully understand or trust each other.  And maybe part of the reason is because the media we consume does not accurately reflect the diversity of our society.  And books are such a massive part of the media we consume that we should demand and fight for those that do represent minorities and those that do present the world from a different perspective than the one we are used to.  So please - participate.  You may just discover a character or an author or a setting or a story that will completely change your life.

Octavia Butler

SO, now that I've convinced you, what are the details?  Well, here you go!

The A More Diverse Universe Blog Tour will take place from September 23rd to September 29th.  To participate, you need only read and review one book in the speculative fiction genre that was written by a person of color.  Simple, right?  So do it!

Thank you to Anachronist for creating this button!

Once you sign up, please take the button and post it on your page and spread the word about the event - we want this to be big!

Sign-ups are open nowAll you have to do is scroll down this post for the form.  Sign-ups will be open until  September 12th.  You will be notified of your date to post by September 16th.  This gives you a week to compose and schedule your post.  I will have a full schedule up on here on BookLust by September 21st, so you can come check here to see all the other AMAZING PEOPLE who are participating in this FABULOUS TOUR.

Want to participate but not sure what book to read?  Don't worry!  We've got you covered.  Check out the links below and see if anything strikes your fancy:

First, visit the Carl Brandon Society, a whole organization with the mission "to increase racial and ethnic diversity in the production of and audience for speculative fiction."  Perfect!  

The Carl Brandon Society is so amazing it put together a list of speculative fiction authors for Black History Month, Asian-Pacific Islander Heritage Month, Hispanic Heritage Month, and American Indian Heritage Month.  So if any of those cultures appeal to you, check out those lists! 

Don't like the idea of sorting by ethnicity and want a full data dump of authors who qualify for this tour?  Check out this wiki! 

Recommended Reading - People of Color in Fantasy Literature.  Note that this link lists not only authors of color writing in the genre, but also authors who write speculative fiction books with characters of color.  For this blog tour, only books by authors of color count.  So please check!

Want to participate, but don't want to commit to a full-length novel?  Here's a list of short fiction.

Love YA fantasy?  (Who doesn't?)  Here's a list just for you.

Here's another list of YA fantasy with characters of color - but again, be careful to choose an author of color!

I will post in the next week or two a list of books that I have read and enjoyed or that I want to read and enjoy - so if the links don't spark anything for you, look out for that post!

Now, that's enough out of me.  Let's get to the sign-ups, shall we?  I am so excited to see what you read and your reaction to it - have fun making a positive difference!

96 comments:

  1. I think this is one bandwagon I'd be very pleased to jump on... all signed up. Now to have fun exploring the suggested sites to pick a book! :)

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  2. I do love this idea! As I think you know, I'm staying commitment free these days, but I do have books by Octavia Butler and N.K. Jemisin out from the library right now for my August scifi/fantasy month. If I don't get both of them read by the end of August, I may hold one of them until that week. That's if I'm not completely burned out on spec fic by then!

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  3. I'm spreading the word! I'm glad that you came up with this idea!

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    1. Thanks for all your help with it :)

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  4. Totally excited for this! To be clear, is any kind of speculative fiction okay, or only fantasy?

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  5. Signed up! Thanks for letting me know - I'm glad I didn't miss this. :)

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  6. I've signed up! Thanks for organizing this.

    In case anyone is looking for a shorter book--I have a list at my blog of the multicultural sci fi/fantasy books I've reviewed that has about 100 books on it so far, including many fine middle grade spec fic books, which tend to get left off other lists -- http://charlotteslibrary.blogspot.com/p/reviews-of-multicultural-fantasy-and.html

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    1. Thanks so much for the link! I will be sure to check it out.

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  7. I know I've read a couple of books where there is some diversity, but it conformed to the western medieval landscape - the characters didn't look European and their culture was different (they were good characters rather than the enemies), but the landscape was the same as all the rest. It did neglect to show reality (which if you're going to base the white characters on a medieval reality you may as well do the same for PoC). Historical fantasy is better, though what I've read isn't "high fantasy" so I couldn't suggest it here.

    I can't take part in the tour because I'll be doing a lot of studying then, but I'll be sure to note down some of your suggestions for later on in the year.

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    1. Oh, it doesn't matter if it isn't high fantasy - you can read ANY time of speculative fiction for the tour :-) I just focused on fantasy here because it's the genre I am most familiar with.

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  8. This is a great idea, and though I have no idea on what I am going to read, I think your lists and wikis may be VERY helpful to me. If you feel like you have the time, send me an email with a few titles that you think I would like. You know I am open to any of your suggestions :)

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    1. You got it! Give me a couple of days and I will get back to you :)

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  9. I'm IN. Will write post and officially sign up tomorrow. Need to study the lists or maybe just close eyes and pick one? or two...

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    1. I put three books on hold at the library and am crossing my fingers that I get at least one in time...

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  10. So exciting. I put a book in, but now I'm looking around for other cool stuff to read. This is a really great project--thank you for doing it!

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    1. You can always read more than one :) I am glad you are participating!,

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  11. Ugh, I just remembered that I had lent my copy of the Kindred to a friend of mine before I had a chance to read it myself and she just moved away so I doubt I'll ever get it back. Now I'm irritated.
    Anyways...this blog tour sounds like a great. I 'm kind of afraid to commit to anything right now because I've had so little time for my blog lately but I'll think about it and see if I can participate.

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    1. I would be irritated, too! You can always tell me later if you want to participate and I will add you to the schedule. I think you should! This was made for you:)

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  12. WELL, I really failed at filling out the sign-up form. :/ Because I am as dumb as a stick, and cooking all evening makes me even dumber. But, I am going to play along! I will be back blogging by the time this rolls around (let us hope), and I shall enjoy trying out a new author. I have settled on Nalo Hopkinson to try because I like her titles.

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    1. Yay!! Her books have awesome covers, too. I am glad you will be back for this. Cannot wait to see you in person!

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  13. I really want to participate, but I'm sad to say that my libraries (both academic and public) do not seem to own any of the authors on those lists. Not even Octavia Butler which I assumed would be a well-known enough name. So um.. I'm not sure if I CAN participate. But I do agree that this is important. I'll have to get back to you about possibilities. Either way, I'm very much looking forward to reading the posts for this tour.

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    1. Oh, sad! How about Salman Rushdie? I bet your library has him in stock and I'd say his books of magical realism qualify. Or Gabriel Garcia Marquez?

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    2. Yes, I've done some more browsing and my library has Rushdie's "Haroun and the Sea of Stories". I wanted to check with you if you think that qualifies. If it does - I'm in :)

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    3. Yes, that should qualify- enjoy!!

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    4. And it's a GREAT book too! Definitely read it, Iris :D

      Anyway, sorry to butt in out of nowhere :P As you know I might not be around online then, but it makes me so happy that the tour is getting such an enthusiastic response.

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  14. Just a very silly question: can I design my own pic for this event? I can share it with you if you like. Something more cheerful...

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    1. Aw, I like the art we have, but you are more than welcome to make your own button as long as you share it with everyone here who is participating.

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    2. Your button is nice, don't get me wrong. I just would like to have a more optimistic, smiling face on it. If I design something I will share it for sure - the pleasure and the honour will be mine, thanks!

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  15. My suggestion of a button - what do you think, everybody?

    http://i143.photobucket.com/albums/r128/LeakyBridgett/jpg.jpg

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    1. Thanks very much - I'll add it to the post.

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  16. This sounds awesome! I will have to see if I can get my parents to bring me my copy of an Octavia Butler trilogy that's sitting at home so I can try to participate.

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    1. Butler is VERY popular on the sign-ups, so I hope they bring you those books!

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  17. What a brilliant idea! I'm a staff reviewer on awritergoesonajourney.com and I happen to have a whole pile of Octavia Butler in my to read pile right now, can I (and possibly the other staff reviewers) participate?

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    1. Of course! Just please sign up separately if you review separately so we can give you all different dates :-)

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  18. I am excited! Hooray! Here I come, Throne of the Crescent Moon!

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    1. I am VERY pumped that you will be doing a guest post here :-D

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  19. I'm really going to do my best to find and read a book for this challenge within the timefram; I'm hoping to find one particularly in the Asian group. Off to look at the links you've left us.

    I love diversity! I love the way all of our cultures enrich one another. Thanks for the great idea!

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  20. Great idea. And I've been meaning to read something by Octavia Butler so maybe I'll try one of hers for this. Not decided yet though, but I'm sure I'll find something :)

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    1. I read Kindred earlier this year and loved it. Haven't read anything else by Butler, but I think she's a good one to try.

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  21. I would love to participate, but I want to see if I have any of the books eligible first. I'm trying the links you included to authors/books that would work, but they are all giving me a "bandwidth limit exceeded" error message.

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    1. That's strange - they all work for me. Do you have no bandwidth available on your connection?

      And just to clarify as it seems like I wasn't clear - ANY book by a POC in the spec fic genre qualifies - it doesn't have to be an author or book from one of my lists. Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Isabel Allende, Salman Rushdie, Kazuo Ishiguro... any and all of them!

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    2. No, I have no probalem accessing any other websites. Those are all great options though! I’m leaving on vacation in a couple hours, but maybe I can find a few to read as soon as I get back! Wonderful idea!

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  22. Also, just in case anyone is looking for a cheap kindle option. It looks like Kindred, an Octavia Butler novel, is only $4.95 on kindle right now!

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  23. LOVE THIS! I just picked up an Octavia Butler, an N K Jemisin, and a Nnedi Okorafor on the Kindle :D Looking forward to it!

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    1. Ooh, if you read all three of them, that would be amazing :)

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  24. Brilliant! I'll be writing a post about this over the weekend

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  25. I'm SO looking forward to this! I'd planned to read at least THE KILLING MOON by N.K. Jemisin and IMARO by Charles Saunders, but I recently remembered that I've been meaning to reread Michelle West for years and years, and I'd love to give Octavia E. Butler a go, and I very much want to read more from Ted Chiang and Nalo Hopkinson; the upshot of which is, I'm having a devil of a time choosing. Maybe I'll post on more than one day, even if it's not officially as part of the tour. :)

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  26. Aarti, here is a link to my post. I am creating a possible reading list for the R.I.P. VII event and will post that on Tuesday. Thanks for pulling this together.

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  27. I'm not going to be very original and read Never Let Me Go for two reasons: it's lent to me by a friend, and I seriously need to read it soon plus it's on my tbr challenge list.

    I have, however, bookmarked the links you mentioned in your post and will be reading more coloured authors of fantasy/sf when I have more time :)

    A great initiative, and I'm really looking forward to everyone else's posts :D

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  28. I just registered with the form, but only selected one date for possible posting by accident. Can you add Thursday to my selections, so that my registration says Monday or Thursday for posting, please? This is a great reason to move The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin to the top of the TBR pile. Thanks!

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  29. I'm in! I have a couple Octavia Butler's I've been meaning to get to. And I can't WAIT for all the recommendations! Thanks for the invite Aarti!

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  30. So glad you are doing this. It is so important. Now I am off to see what books that I haven't read your links suggest.

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  31. Hello, I've signed up! I'm looking forward to participating especially since I've been meaning to read something by Samuel R. Delany for a while.

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  32. I'm really looking forward to participating in this. Good stuff.

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    1. I'm so glad that you're participating! Thanks very much for helping :-)

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  33. I'm looking forward to jumping into this, and I've been reading more speculative fiction by authors of color, and recently posted reviews of books by Victor LaVelle and Ted Chiang on untitledunited.wordpress.com. I'm going to review two others by these great authors with More Diverse Universe as a frame.

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    1. That's great - I'll be sure to look at your previous reviews as well.

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  34. i had already started Thomas King's Green Grass and could review it for your blog tour. Or I was inspired by your post to order others you might want me to do. Redemption in Indigo, Icarus Girl, or Hundred Thousand Kingdoms.

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    1. Any and all of those qualify! You can do more than one, too, if you are motivated to do so :-)

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  35. This is so exciting! I'm signing up for one of Nalo Hopkinson's novels (maybe her latest YA, The Chaos, or maybe a re-read) and also plan to dip into the short story collection that she edited (So Long Been Dreaming: Postcolonial Science Ficiton and Fantasy) which has great stuff by Larissa Lai and Hiromi Goto and tonnes of others. Can't wait to see what others are into as well and all the posts that will fill the ether that week.

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  36. Just signed up, really looking forward to seeing what everyone else will be reading!

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  37. I am exceptionally excited about this! I've signed up to review one of the most exceptional YA reads I've encountered, Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor. The thought of perusing the extensive lists you've linked is giving me a glee-headache (which sounds like an oxymoron, but is a real thing, no kidding!) If I'm interested in reviewing more than one book for the challenge, does that mean I should send in more than one form? :)

    Thank you so much for hosting this incredibly important challenge, Aarti.

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    1. Thanks for participating! You can just sign up once and say you are reading two books- we will assign you two dates to post. Or however many dates you need!

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  38. I think I might lose my mind with joy over this idea. I read tons of Fantasy and am ALWAYS looking for fantasy by writers of color. I may have to sign up for this as I've read a helluva a lot of books. Might need to reread and blog about it. YAY! THANK you for doing this!

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    1. That would be wonderful - you are more than welcome, indeed encouraged, to read multiple books for this event.

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  39. Love the idea of supporting more fantasy writers of color! I'm in and hoping to discover some new favorites as well.

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  40. There's an awesome book called the Liminal people, written by a black guy that has a multicultural cast in an international setting. It's a lot of fun, if a little violent/noirish. Here's the website and the Amazon link. Check it out.
    http://theliminalpeople.com/
    http://www.amazon.com/The-Liminal-People-A-Novel/dp/193152033X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1347199247&sr=8-1&keywords=the+liminal+people

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  41. I would love to re-post this post on my book clubs blog. Mocha Girls Read. Would you be ok with that? This is such a great idea. And I am going to be join in as well! Thanks

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    1. I'd prefer you not to repost my post, but you are more than welcome to link to it and spread the word, of course!

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  42. I've never written a review before, but I am constantly looking for speculative fiction by authors of color. Thanks so much for doing this and trying to bring recognition to more of these authors! I am super excited to go through the lists you posted and discover more works.

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    1. I'm so glad you are excited! Even if you don't usually post reviews, you are more than welcome to do a one-off guest post on a blog for the occasion if you'd like :-)

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  43. Headed to the library this afternoon to find something! I'm excited to participate.

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  44. This looks like a lot of fun. Sorry I signed up so many times. I just kept thinking of new books that I wanted to read.

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  45. Just a quick question: can I review an e-book? Because I would like to review someone local (I'm not from the U.S or Europe) and authors who do speculative fiction don't get their books in print often here.

    Do let me know if that's ok so I can make some quick purchases.

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  46. I am in. Have spread a word on my blog
    http://wp.me/p1gjsK-aJ

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  47. I've never been here before, just came from Bellezza's blog.
    This is a great, great idea. I've got Kindred here but unfortunately may not have the time. Too bad. I wish you success and will send someone over who might be keen on joining.

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  48. I am in too. Sounds like a great idea.

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  49. This sounds great and I'm in. Thanks to Alex (September 11 comment) for pointing me in this direction :)

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  50. Came over from Racialicious. I won't able to participate because I'm in the middle of two big writing projects with fast approaching deadlines but I'll share on tumblr and else.

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  51. "This is unfair for many reasons that I hope I don't need to enumerate here"

    I'd actually really like to know why you think that - is it because fantasy authors tend to not write colour well? Simply because the ancient Mediterranean that defined most of European history was anything but "white" and should therefore be a very rich ground for character diversity for any author.


    "Because it is hard to break into the fantasy genre as a new author, generally. And even more difficult if your book is about a person of color. And most difficult of all if you yourself are a person of color writing stories about characters of color."

    I meet so many "white male" writers who never break into traditional publishing and don't feel much sense of privilege there. However, fantasy as a genre seems especially based on Anglo-Saxon memes. So are specifically saying that the industry itself is still too focused on anything that seeks to continue, rather than challenge, these memes?

    "And so a small group of bloggers got together to create an event to fight this. "

    Sincerely hope the project goes well - I think there's a desperate need for a better standard of writing in fantasy, full stop. Too many twee cliches currently define the genre.

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    1. I wrote a very long blog post on why there needs to be more diversity in fantasy fiction here, if you want my whole spiel :-) I think if you google "Racism in fantasy fiction," you'll find a lot of people writing on the topic. http://www.aartichapati.com/2010/01/for-discussion-racism-in-fantasy-its.html

      It isn't so much that fantasy authors tend not to write color well - it's because many fantasy authors either ignore race entirely or set people up in a very stereotypical manner and often set their characters in worlds that look like Europe at some point. Perhaps the Mediterranean has some POC history, but there's also an entire rest of the world that has not-white history that deserves to be recognized, too, and generally isn't.

      As for the white male writers who do not break into traditional publishing, I understand that it's hard for them, but it's even harder for people of other races. Have you read about the White Privilege backpack?
      http://www.uakron.edu/dotAsset/1662103.pdf

      I think a lot of the twee cliches you mention in fantasy come from not having a diverse base of authors to write in the genre. Hopefully this event brings attention to those who DO write outside the traditional bounds. Thanks for your support!

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  52. Many thanks for the reply - very much appreciated, and you make some very good points.

    I hope you did finish Abercrombie's trilogy, though, as you may find that *some* of your fears were unfounded. :)

    What's especially good about Abercrombie's work is the moral ambiguity that underlines everything - that at least helps move us past that bastion of "good vs evil", especially as GRRM hasn't really managed it so well (the Starks are still "good", the Lannisters are still "evil" with some exception).

    There is still a big problem that too much in fantasy is white, male, and heteronormative. I think that's partly the Anglo-Saxon roots Tolkien and Lewis established, but also because English speaking markets have tended to demand a degree of conformity (or allowance) of these.

    While I inevitably fall into that bracket by ethnicity, I can only hope to be sensitive enough to these issues that I can challenge them to some small extent in my own writing, and at the very least, ensure I don't promulgate them.

    One point I noted recently was an article on the BBC stating that India is set to become the biggest consumer of English-language fiction:
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-17990766

    As part of the internationalisation of fiction, I can only see diversity becoming a *necessity*. All the more power to writers and readers alike. :)

    In the meantime, hope it's all a success next week. :)

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  53. I just came across your blog and this challenge. I am gladly and happily signing up!

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  54. I look forward to reading the posts from the participants of this challenge. I'm way behind in my Reader (obviously) and haven't posted on my blog in weeks. Work has me busy too many hours to commit to anything. HOWEVER, I will commit to reading something in the near future and I thank you for organizing this for all of us! Stay passionate as it will spread!

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  55. I didn't hear about this until today, but I unofficially participated with my review of Saladin Ahmed's _Engraved on the Eye_.

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  56. this is great , I just saw this post , if I were to participate I would have wrote about the north african people, specially Egyptians

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Thank you for taking the time and effort (I know word verification is MISERABLE) to comment here! Unless you are spamming me, in which case, thanks for nothing.

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