Friday, 12 August 2016

We Need More Diverse Fantasy!

As part of the challenges I'm doing this year, I have been focusing on reading more diversely. Diverse fiction is hugely important, but one thing I quickly noticed is that diversity is scarce in the Fantasy and Sci-Fi genres. Why is this? Do alternate fantastical dimensions not have diverse people? I sat down and had a think about this.

Some Excuses I've heard for the lack of Diversity in Fantasy and Sci-Fi

1. Alternate Universe - Different Countries
One excuse could be that alternate universes don't have our countries in order to explain ethnicity. I've faced this problem before. But I found that it even though it is easier to say 'this character is Indian', it's not really going out of the way to describe the tone of someones skin, or their cultural traditions, if said traditions are maintained in this Alternate Universe. Just because in this new world there is no place named 'India', it doesn't mean that we can't clearly show the character's ethnicity.

2. No Room For Diversity
Another excuse I've heard is that fantasy and sci-fi are so filled with plot that there's no room to write about diversity. Honestly, that's the weakest excuse I've ever heard. Most fantasy novels have plenty of time to include an epic romance between the protagonists which takes a huge amount of time away from them saving the world. If you have time to write a 5 page kiss scene, you can easily include a bit of diversity.

3. If the Diversity isn't focal, what's the point?
I've heard the argument that if the diverseness of a character isn't focal to the book, i.e. a contemporary such as Simon vs. or Aristotle and Dante that has an in depth discussion about self identity, it's neglecting the importance of diverse representation. I can almost see where people are coming from with this. You can't just say character X is Chinese and completely ignore the cultural aspects that come along with their background. But I think the danger of thinking like this is that it would almost be like saying a person is no more than the thing which makes them diverse - which is SO NOT TRUE. Sure, it's very important to have diverse reads in situations that people can relate to, but that doesn't mean we should neglect diversity in other genres.

Why is Diversity in Different Genres so Important?
Fiction is a reflection of life, no matter the genre. So to create a world without diversity is not true to the nature of society. It neglects how layered humanity is. Even if you personally cannot relate to a character's experiences with regards to diversity, it doesn't mean you can't understand them at all. People are so much more than the thing that makes them diverse. Diversity is needed across all fiction in order to truely reflect humanity, and it's also needed for people who are diverse themselves to have characters within situations they identify with. The feeling of finding a character you can relate to is wonderful, and really I think that is the purpose of all fiction - to remind you that you are not alone.

Some Fantastic Diverse Fantasy/Sci-Fi I've Come Across

Why is representation across genres important to you? Do you think diverse fantasy is important? What fantastic diverse reads have you come across lately?

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