Lit Ignorance is Bias: The Diversity Manifesto

Discussion in 'Literature' started by CooperTFN, Sep 2, 2012.

  1. The Loyal Imperial Manager Emeritus

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    Nov 19, 2007
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    There are these things called "pictures" that you may have heard of. Readers aren't the ones who paint them.
  2. Rilwen_Shadowflame Force Ghost

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    Mar 27, 2005
    star 6
    Yeah, as a Forgotten Realms fan, they have a number of ways to denote these things. Cali*****, Chultan, Shou, Kozakuran, Tuigan, etc etc etc. There's a whole listing in Races of Faerun, an RP sourcebook, that includes human ethnic groupings. Some of which correspond to no group on this planet, and some of which do correspond. (It's not just about humans though, the sourcebook basically goes through and shows the different groups for just about everybody - multiple groups of dwarves, halflings, planetouched, and elves. Oh boy do they ever give different groups for elves.[face_laugh])

    And beyond 'you can give your RPG character any ethnicity' I can actually think of Forgotten Realms literature with important non-white characters.

    (Fun fact, also: Forgotten Realms dwarves are not necessarily white.)
  3. Likewater Force Ghost

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    Dec 31, 2009
    star 4
    I tried forgotten relms novels, but could never either find or get into them. i read Cyormir(?) and some of the Avatar trilogy, and one of the Elmister books. But I could never find much of them I spent alot of my teens reading Dragonlance.
  4. TrakNar Force Ghost

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    I've said it before and I'll say it again.

    Bugs are people, too!
  5. JediFreac Force Ghost

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    Mar 7, 2002
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    Ahhh not this conversation again. Although, the last time I had it, it was with Shelly Shapiro.
  6. Skaddix Force Ghost

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    Feb 3, 2012
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    Yes diversity two aliens, a few white females, and a whole lot of white males.
  7. TrakNar Force Ghost

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    Apr 4, 2011
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    Well, one could argue that there are aliens under those hoods, but you never know. Still... it's not a lot. We need more aliens!
  8. WIERD_GREEN_MAN Jedi Grand Master

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    Dec 16, 2010
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    What I noticed is that in every major storyline, there's a human protagonist.
  9. Likewater Force Ghost

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    Dec 31, 2009
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    It has to be a novel thing,Kights of the Old republic(Comic, videogames, and MMORPG), Dark Times, Star Wars Legacy, Dawn OF the Jedi, all have a pretty diverse cast.

    which only make the novels look worse.
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  10. Esg Jedi Grand Master

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    Sep 2, 2012
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    Points at Drew K and Kemp as cases in point
  11. Valin__Kenobi Author: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Praji

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    It's odd, as you'd think novels would be perfect for really alien protagonists: you don't have to get readers past the distraction/squick factor of giant bugs or whatever. It's truly what's inside their head that matters.
    Last edited by Valin__Kenobi, Nov 9, 2012
  12. TrakNar Force Ghost

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    Apr 4, 2011
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    I really think that the lack of alien protagonists in novels boils down to a belief that the audience would be unable to relate to an alien character. I've already explained how ludicrous a belief that is, so I won't repeat myself. Though, writers do need to take a gamble and write an alien protagonist. While, yes, one should "write what they know," that shouldn't become a crutch. You can "know" an alien. You just need to think about things a different way.
  13. WIERD_GREEN_MAN Jedi Grand Master

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    The novels are also very centered on a specific family.
  14. JediFreac Force Ghost

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    Yeah, a family that apparently only has one black friend.



    Thiz one thinks that Troy Denning tried to do this with Saba Sebantyne. And uh, Squibs. *yawns*
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  15. instantdeath Force Ghost

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    Jul 22, 2010
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    Actually, as a fairly new EU fan, I can say one of the hardest entry points for me was the authors tendencies to simply state alien names with an assumption the reader knows what they look like; rarely do they come with descriptions. There was a brief time I didn't know about wookieepedia, so I found this a bit annoying. It was even in Zahn's novels, which is the entry point for many people.

    Of course, now I appreciate it; Star Wars novels could become boring quite fast if every race is supplied with a detailed description. At this point, it seems like authors expect you to read SW novels with wookieepedia at your disposal.

    Also, with novels, one could argue that appearance is less important; it's up to the reader to form the images. In that case, it arguably becomes less important to specify certain things. It's easier to just make a character human, so that way everyone gets a clearer picture of them. I could also see some authors being in the mindset that it would be redundant to make a protagonist non-human if they don't plan to take advantage of their "alieness". I don't share that mindset, obviously, but I could understand why some would think, "meh, better to just make him human".

    And of course in matters of race, you could argue just how important it is to specify race in a novel. Of course, there's been some minor controversy over the descriptions of Asian characters in SW books. Would it be better, I wonder, to keep certain descriptions vague? It might annoy me, since I'm a very visual person and like to visualize almost everything that happens in a novel, but perhaps it would let readers use their imagination a bit more in their mental depiction of characters.

    I do believe there is some merit in the idea that a reader should be able to mentally diversify a cast, since it's not always in an authors best interest to hammer in physical details, especially when it comes to large amounts of minor characters. But I also think the idea that a character in a novel is "white until proven otherwise" is complete bull ****.
    Last edited by instantdeath, Nov 9, 2012
  16. CooperTFN TFN EU Staff Emeritus

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    The X-Wing books weren't - WHM main.

    The Bane trilogy wasn't - WHM main.

    Coruscant Nights wasn't - WHM main.

    Deathtroopers wasn't - WHM main.

    Crosscurrent/Riptide weren't - WHM main.

    The Skysolo's aren't helping, but they're not the whole problem.

    Buried beneath this whole conversation is the fact that Saba is actually a pretty strong character. Using her as a refutation of the diversity problem does a disservice both to the issue and to her.
    Last edited by CooperTFN, Nov 9, 2012
  17. Todd the Jedi Mod and Sitcom Dad of SWTV - Vacationing and stuff

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    Actually Sean Williams and Shane Dix wrote Saba's POV very well in the Force Heretic trilogy. It was refreshing to see her written as not the most awesome character around. She was a very enjoyable character there. In Denning's works, however.... :rolleyes:
    Last edited by Todd the Jedi, Nov 9, 2012
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  18. JediFreac Force Ghost

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    Mar 7, 2002
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    You're right, actually, I'd forgotten the Force Heretic Trilogy--probably the most technically proficient and movie-tone capturing NJO miniseries but kind of overshadowed by books with weaker writing but more important plot points. Saba was good in that book.
  19. Likewater Force Ghost

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    Dec 31, 2009
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    Especially odd since since one can reasonably say Mr.Spock the logic driven space elf is a rather well known and famous Alien in pop culture. I think he is the most popular character in Star Treks history.

    Come to think of it Dragon Lance has had several novels from the view of Kenders, Minatours, 3 or 4 types/nations of Elves, the non corrupted Orc's (I forget what they are called), Draconians, Dwarves (Gully, Hill and Mountain), even the the Dragons got a pov novels.

    Star Trek has had novels form Klingon, Romulan, Andorian, Vulcan, Cardassian, povs

    And when I men POV i mean exploration of their sociaties, classes, civilian and military. in bothe Trek and Dragon Lance.

    Have we ever had a look into Twi'lek culture vea twi'lek pov.

    Do the have a venerated warrior king akin to Kah'less like the Klingons? a Venerated philospher Like Surak of Vulcan.

    The Krogan have their Shaman who must live intune with krogan rage, the Turians named each planet in their system besides palavin after a famous philospher

    I know Stawars sociaties are spread out an are well cross assimilated in space, but their has to be some cultural distictions that can be explored. Just as a world building novel.
    Last edited by Likewater, Nov 9, 2012
  20. instantdeath Force Ghost

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    Jul 22, 2010
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    This is strange. The two posts preceding mine are literally the only praise I've ever seen the Force Heretic trilogy receive. I thought it was the black sheep of the NJO.

    Then again, now that I think about it, all the complaints I've seen leveled against it are generally about how "nothing happens".
  21. TrakNar Force Ghost

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    Apr 4, 2011
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    Only the short story anthologies have I seen non-Humans in the roles of main protagonist. Why are they limited just to those?
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  22. Zeta1127 Force Ghost

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    Sep 2, 2012
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    Zahn doesn't write non-Humans as point of view characters for his own reasons.
  23. TrakNar Force Ghost

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    Apr 4, 2011
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    Those reasons being Thrawn, Thrawn, and Thrawn?
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  24. Zeta1127 Force Ghost

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    Sep 2, 2012
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    Thrawn isn't a point of view character, Pellaeon, or another character like Doriana or Niriz, is the point of view character in all scenes with Thrawn.
    Last edited by Zeta1127, Nov 9, 2012
  25. TrakNar Force Ghost

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    Oh, right. They're to remind us how awesome they think Thrawn is. :p