On the other hand, I vividly remember the first moment Lando Calrissian filled my eyes. I remember Uhura and Sulu on deck, just doing their jobs, a part of the crew like everybody else. And if these characters meant the world to me on screen in sci-fi--my vacation spot--there aren't even words for finding people who looked like me in fantasy novels, my home!
Yet as an adult would-be-novelist, race isn't a focus of my work. I don't have an agenda; I have characters in my head that clamour to be out onto the page and a bit of natural writing talent that I hope to hone into real skill. My characters aren't multi-cultural because I want to make a social or political statement; they're multi-cultural because my world is.
Recently, a certain section of the blogosphere has blown up with discussions of race. Mostly, I've watched in silence as anger rose and feelings were hurt. I couldn't be much help, except maybe as a target. Dear anti-racist people of color: you've got great points, but you've got to understand that your world view is not the only right way to see things (and your delivery ensures that those who don't already agree with you won't). And: Dear white authors, editors, and assorted spec-fic fans: You aren't necessarily wrong, but it's not all about you. Listen and you might just learn something.
Both groups (in this example of imagination) then turn and rip chunks out of An. But they would be united in kicking my ass, and unity is good, right?
I passed on chiming in. But I believe that the conversation is an important one, and I've watched it get dismissed out of hand in other forums. Through it all, I thought of authors who'd been asked why none of their characters were [insert whatever they may consider Other]. The answer is generally some version of, "I don't know how" or "I'm afraid I couldn't get it right."
Sci-fi/fantasy author, Elizabeth Bear, wrote a great blog post on the subject. If you get there and cringe at the length of the scroll bar, take heart. Most of that length is due to comments on the post. But then, the comments are, at times, really important, too. This is a subject we should all take our time with; Bear titled her post "whatever you're doing, you're probably wrong" and she was right.
And that goes for everyone. When I wrote started the novel that would be my jump from playing with classic fantasy (classic because I can't stretch my imagination enough to call my little attempts "epic") to really writing urban fantasy, I stalled out, in part, due to a Middle Eastern major character. Could I do him justice or would he look Middle Eastern but be a combination of the black and white men in my life?
Back to the linkage. Here is an Open Letter in response to Bear's essay. Harsh? Yeah. Right? Yeah. While I could argue that it should be two posts as Bear isn't responsible for twenty years of Roddenbderry-done-wrong and Sci-fi Channel fuck ups, it's all part of the same conversation. And don't miss out on the link to Deepad's essay there.
....Feel free to come back here and tell me what you think.