Lit Ignorance is Bias: The Diversity Manifesto

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

  1. instantdeath Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 22, 2010
    star 5
    And that, in just three paragraphs, is why Joe Abercrombie is awesome.
  2. JediFreac Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 7, 2002
    star 4
    I would have preferred if he hadn't written that character that way in the first place, but yeah, that was a cool reaction and very professional!
  3. instantdeath Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 22, 2010
    star 5
    It could be much worse. See Scott Bakker. Not a bad writer at all, but he has some very disturbing views that creep (well, creep is too mild a word) into his work. And don't expect any sort of acknowledgement that he just might not be perfect from him.
  4. Charlemagne19 Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jul 30, 2000
    star 7
    As a published science-fiction author (on the bottom of the pile but *IN* the pile I was surprised to discover) I actually got to speak with a lot of people in publishing. It's amazing how politics and views are MASSIVELY important in certain circles. It's why things like "A Paladin of Shadows" gets published.

    Don't look it up unless you're willing to...in fact, just don't look it up.

    Of course, Orson Scott Card's "Empire" books are a more mainstream crazy conservative work.
  5. Reveen Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 4, 2012
    star 3
    I'd think that learning how to take your lumps from readers would be something you'd learn before you got anywhere near a publication. I mean, I learn it in high school creative writing. Apparently not according to some stuff that has gone down.

    Wasn't that just John Ringo self-conciously letting his Id run wild? I really do want to find those books somewhere just to see how messed up they are.

    http://hradzka.livejournal.com/194753.html?thread=760769#t760769
  6. TrakNar Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 4, 2011
    star 5
    To be honest... if I saw "The Wanker Piece" on a book, I would be tempted to read it.
  7. GrandAdmiralJello Community and Lit moderator person

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Nov 28, 2000
    star 10
    I read that as "The Wanker Prince."
    Zorrixor and TrakNar like this.
  8. TrakNar Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 4, 2011
    star 5
    An even better title!
  9. Charlemagne19 Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jul 30, 2000
    star 7
    Wasn't that just John Ringo self-conciously letting his Id run wild? I really do want to find those books somewhere just to see how messed up they are.

    The issue wasn't with John Ringo who wrote the fantasy for himself. It was more when he published excerpts, a major publisher wanted to publish them.

    I recommend reading the article but the first book more or less consists of various scenes of the main character rescuing dim but curvacious co-eds from terrorist rapists and getting promises they'll sleep with him afterward. Then getting them to fight naked against the Syrian military at one point.

    You can confirm this if you want, Baen is awesome about putting all of its books online.
  10. thesevegetables Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 11, 2012
    star 4
  11. Charlemagne19 Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jul 30, 2000
    star 7
    What's hilarious is Baen publishes perfectly normal and intelligent science fiction with Right-leaning (Honor Harrington) and slightly leftist (Ring of Fire). Then it goes and publishes MORE craziness by Ringo with a Libertarian saga about how a single entrepeneur sells all the maple syrup in the world to aliens which he uses to create his vast intergalactic super-cartel that he vows to defend from the United States taking any wealth from with laser-cannons from space (during the time the Earth is occupied by stupid aliens). Later, most of the planet is killed off except for sexy blondes via plague that makes them promiscuous.

    The last line I've only heard about but the first stuff is true.

    Ringo also wrote a story about Buffy the Vampire Slayer, except as a Baptist housewife.

    Edit:

    I had a point here somewhere, oh yes, basically that Right Wing science fiction is alive and well as well as somewhat strange gender roles.
    Last edited by Charlemagne19, Nov 13, 2012
  12. Mechalich Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Feb 2, 2010
    star 4
    If this is in reference to my comment regarding the tumblr you posted, the point was not about criticism or professional development, but how in many ways both sides are guilty of speaking past their opponents. Several of the responses on that tumblr, in particular the very first one listed (which matter because it was listed first), are not speaking to anything resembling an author making an actual attempt to address race and/or gender issues. They are, instead, setting up absurd straw men and they proceeding to write take-down pieces that are basically long-winded ways of saying 'you're ignorant and worthless.'

    That is not discussion-enabling or likely to produce a shift in views. Instead, it encourages a devaluing of the critical voice and a backlash.

    The long quote of Abercrombie speaks to an author doing what we would all hope authors would do, but the authors do not owe we, the fans, anything of the kind. If this thread is about what we as the fans can do to leverae influence regarding this issue, rather than simply playing the blame game, then recognizing how things are put together and what choices that could be made in fan response would be most effective is highly relevant.

    Personaly, I think the best way to improve the infrahuman diversity within Star Wars is to have the suite of authors more closely match the demographics. Taking a group of mostly middle-aged white men and women and expecting then to produce something that is not dominated in the fashion we currently observe strikes me as far less efficient.
  13. TrakNar Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 4, 2011
    star 5
    A common axiom for beginning writers is "write what you know," and many a time, they stick to it. However, one can research something to know it. Have friends in other demographics? Borrow their traits. Go out and study people. "Write what you know" isn't a worthless axiom. It has its merits. You know people. You've been a practicing people since you were born. You are therefore a people expert. You study other people and you observe their behavior and you incorporate it into your writing. Just because you are of a certain demographic does not mean that you are completely unable to learn others.
    Ris_jSarek likes this.
  14. Mechalich Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Feb 2, 2010
    star 4
    This isn't just about writing what you know though. This is about what people do without actively thinking about it. A white author raised in a primarily white environment is almost certain to, over a body of work, going to include a lesser number of random background characters who are black than a black author raised in a primarily black environment. That might even be true if that environment is the space physical location, such as New York City.

    This is just about racial traits, it no doubt matches to all sorts of features occuring on some sort of static continuum. For example: I happen to find women with dark hair, meaning black or brown, more attractive than those who are blonde, just a personal preference. I'd be willing to be a significant amount of money that if I went back over time through all the various material I've written, that preference would show up in descriptive text even though it has no real storytelling importance whatsoever.
  15. Robimus Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 6, 2007
    star 5
    I agree with this pretty much completely. Its just not helpful at all to sit around and say not only "Star Wars is not diverse enough" while in the same breath being critical of every single Star Wars author and the techniques that they use to make the universe more diverse.

    We should be encouraging and saying "here's what you could do better with Jan Fathal or Haruun Kal" instead of just defaulting to "what you did with Jan Fathal, that was a terrible example of stereotyping that I couldn't stand and the author should be ashamed of".
  16. TrakNar Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 4, 2011
    star 5
    As I had suggested before, employing one's other senses to describe one's world would help in regards to writing characters who aren't Human or Human-faced. Granted, if a character has eyes, they may be visually-oriented, particularly if they have large eyes. And writing characters with compound eyes as seeing in multiples... After some research, insects don't see in multiples. Their brains process the information into a single image, which could have more or less resolution depending on how their eyes are constructed. Generally, the more lenses a compound eye has, the higher the resolution. Dragonflies have very large eyes with many, many lenses. Their brains are designed to process visual input quickly. Praying mantises have smaller eyes, but a large amount of lenses. They also have a pseudopupil; where their focal point would be on the eye at a certain angle. That dark spot that travels across the eye when the mantis is rotated is where the light is collecting within the lenses and reflecting off of the walls of each lens. That is the focal point of their vision, which is also very acute.

    Now, looking at some insectoid compound eyes, we have a large eye with a moderate amount of large lenses. Though, compared to a Human's simple eye, an insectoid eye may not be as acute. The resolution may be relatively poor. That insectoid character would perceive the world with the resolution of an older TV. Not high-definition, but they wouldn't be blind. An author could use this trait to their advantage, as an insectoid character may miss a small detail that another character with better eyes would notice.

    Even with visually-oriented characters, you have plenty of leeway to make their visual spectrum different. Many species see in ultraviolet light. Therefore, certain colors will jump out at them. For example, urine will often glow under an ultraviolet light. You have a character who can see in the ultraviolet spectrum? They could track someone by following where whomever or whatever marked their territory. Need to get the feel for seeing in the ultraviolet spectrum just to be able to write it? Small black lights are available. Get one and shine it around.
  17. Mechalich Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Feb 2, 2010
    star 4
    Expanding on my earlier point about author demographic composition having an influence over the demographic composition that is ultimately output, I went through and examined the racial and gender balance of every single adult Star Wars author (yeah, not counting the young readers at this point). With the exception of a number short story authors I was unable to properly identify, it breaks down like this.

    White Males: 36
    White Females: 17
    Black Males: 1

    One single Star Wars novel (and its accopmanying ebook novella), The Cestus Deception by Steven Barnes, was written by a non-white author. One. This, to my view, is a far, far more important issue of diversity in the Star Wars fandom than anything having to do with character composition in-universe.
    Valin__Kenobi likes this.
  18. Rilwen_Shadowflame Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 27, 2005
    star 6
    And Cestus Deception is one of the more diverse books in-universe, too, I think.
  19. CooperTFN TFN EU Staff Emeritus

    VIP
    Member Since:
    Jul 8, 1999
    star 6
    There's a nagging voice in the back of my head telling me we've had another black author since Barnes, but it could have been a short story or something. Anyway, your point is taken.

    For the record, those numbers give the total SW authorship a diversity score of 33. By which standard, they're doing pretty good. :p
  20. Skaddix Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Feb 3, 2012
    star 4
    Well they are certainly connected.
  21. Robimus Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 6, 2007
    star 5
    In a real world sense it is, but that still might not equal diversity on the page. I don't know if there is any real proof one could point at that would confirm that black author would give us more black characters, or asian characters, so on, so forth, than a white writer would.
  22. Rilwen_Shadowflame Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 27, 2005
    star 6
    Steven Barnes did give us Sheeka Tull, at least.
  23. Skaddix Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Feb 3, 2012
    star 4
    Well it depends on how much of the main cast is locked in. I mean if every story has to center around the Big 3 and their Spawn not going to have much room to add important characters who are not white.
  24. Esg Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 2, 2012
    star 4
    MFW I enter the ST Homosexuality thread

    [IMG]
  25. Zeta1127 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Sep 2, 2012
    star 4
    I was already irritated by Traviss' gay Mandos without even reading the series for so many reasons, so I know better than to enter that thread.