This is a topic I’ve been thinking on for the past couple of years, but I didn’t actually act on until this spring, when I started writing a short story whose main character is not white. Thinking about my character got me thinking about what I’ve read, and I realized that, at least in the science fiction and fantasy reading I’ve read over the years, I could only think of one author who I remembered writing non-white protagonists – Ursula LeGuin, and I was thinking specifically of her Earthsea books.
I knew, knew there had to be more protagonists of color in these genres, and started wracking my brain…and could come up with nothing outside of LeGuin’s work. I decided this meant I was woefully under read in my favorite genres, and so I turned to the trusty Internet for guidance. I was gratified to find that there are, indeed, protagonists and authors of color in sci-fi and fantasy fiction, and people more awesome than I have put together lists and encouraged discussions on this very topic.
Have I ever mentioned here how very much I adore the Internet?
When I was a pre-teen and teen, devouring all the high fantasy and classic sci-fi I could get my grubby hands on, I read Robert Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, Frank Herbert, Ursula LeGuin, J.R.R. Tolkien, Terry Brooks, Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman, Robert Jordan, David Eddings, Douglas Adams, Jules Verne, H.G. Wells, Robert Asprin, and I’m sure many others whose names escape me at the moment. But let’s go through this list, shall we? How many non-white authors are there? None, that I know of. How many female? Two. This has been my frame of reference for the two genres ever since.
I clearly remember thinking that girls just don’t write the stories I wanted to read – that Weis and LeGuin were weird. Cool–awesome, even–but oddities. In retrospect, I’m disturbed that I managed to internalize that idea. Grown-up me knows better, and can rattle off more female authors than before, but the male:female ratio is still unbalanced.
So it is my self-appointed project to familiarize myself with sci-fi and fantasy authors who aren’t white men. This isn’t to say that I’m boycotting authors who happen to be both male and of European descent (there’s no skipping Brandon Sanderson’s upcoming Way of Kings, for example), but I am going to make sure I read authors who have a different perspective than what I’ve grown accustomed to reading.
Lists! I like lists. Specifically, I like informed lists written by other people. Here are some resources, if you, too, are interested:
Multicultural Fantasies: that is to say, fantasy novels/series that aren’t Euro-centric, as so many are.
Anyone have recommendations for me?