Part Three in a Three Part Series
This is the third of three posts looking at diversifying Science Fiction and Fantasy cons. Part One of this blog outlined the issue. Part Two we explore suggestions for diversifying events. In Part Three we look at suggestions for panel titles based on my experience as an Sci Fi writer networked in a variety of communities. Take them. Leave them. Massage them. Whatever works for your con.
- How Octavia Butler Transformed Us: A facilitated discussion on how the characters, stories and ideas expressed in Butler’s writings have transformed Sci Fi & Fantasy creatives, fans, narratives and the industry.
- Afro, Indigenous, Islamic, Latin American, Queer and Other Futurisms: Who reads these stories? Who is writing them and why? How are they contributing to the development of Sci Fi & Fantasy? Are publishers and publications interested? How do fans support these sub-genres?
- Where the Borg Are: Indigenous Relationships with Colonization in Science Fiction and Fantasy: How are global Indigenous peoples like Thomas King and Robert Sullivan (Star Waka) exploring, evolving and educating through Sci Fi & Fantasy? How does humour figure into these narratives? What do we have to learn and gain from these writings?
- Color Me Unruly, Primitive and Inferior: Chromophobia in Science Fiction: Artist and writer David Batchelor has argued that “in the West, since Antiquity, colour has been systematically marginalized, reviled, diminished, and degraded.” According to some art critics, anthropologists and historians, this mutual attraction and repulsion to color has centuries-old roots, bound up in a colonial past and fears of the unknown. At the height of England’s Imperial phase, the English often called Indian textiles “rags” or “trash” and scorned their bright colors. In Europe bright colors were taken as a sign of degeneracy and inferiority. This chromophobia, or fear of color, manifests as the valorization of white as the color of rational, clean, controlled spaces, while color is seen as dangerous, superficial and potentially contaminating. Where do we see this in Sci Fi & Fantasy? Should it be challenged?
- Super Crip, Evil Villain and Fixed-with-Tek: Exploring Tropes about People with Disabilities in SF&F: What are some of the tropes about people with disabilities? How do they reflect and impact social and cultural beliefs about disabled people? Are there tropes we welcome and want to see more of? What would we like to see less of? What do we want to see that we haven’t yet?
- Superhero versus the Collective: Do superhero tropes devalue collective and community actions? Do they reinforce the notion that it is only powerful individuals that can author change in society? When do super being narratives support collective action? Why does it matter?
- Incorporating the Stories “Others”: Most “othered/marginalized” peoples want to see themselves and their culture(s) accurately reflected in the genre. How do we respectfully reference myth, stories and ideas from a culture that isn’t ours? What might be the responsibilities of writers, artists and other creatives when we incorporate cultural concepts, narratives, characters, language and other artistic creation into our narratives? How do power relationships impact our responsibilities? How do we ensure we do not replicate exploitative and oppressive relationships? How do we ensure respect for the various cultural understandings of “copyright”? If there is “universal story” what is it and who decides?
If you think these topics might be of interest to your audience, check in and consult with Indigenous and People of Colour folks in your area. They may want to tweak these ideas or offer suggestions of their own. If I can manage it financially, I’d be honoured to be a guest panelist to discuss any and all of these topics at your con.
[divider_line]Here’s a list of some Indigenous writers and their Speculative Fiction or Genre-Crossing Texts compiled by writer and scholar Daniel Heath Justice:
● Stephen Graham Jones (Blackfeet), Demon Theory, The Fast Red Road: A Plainsong
● Blake M. Hausman (Cherokee), Riding the Trail of Tears
● William Sanders (Cherokee), The Ballad of Billy Bad-Ass and the Rose of Turkestan, “The Undiscovered”
● Gerry William (Shuswap), The Black Ship: Book One of Enid Blue Starbreaks
● Robert J. Conley (Cherokee), Brass
● D. L. Birchfield (Choctaw), Field of Honor
● Daniel Heath Justice (Cherokee), The Way of Thorn and Thunder: The Kynship Chronicles
● A.A. Carr (Navajo), Eye Killers
● Gerald Vizenor (Anishinaabe), Chancers
● Eden Robinson (Haisla), Monkey Beach, “Terminal Avenue”
● Zainab Amadahy (Cherokee), The Moons of Palmares
● Sherman Alexie (Spokane/Coeur d’Alene), Flight, “The Sin-Eaters”
● Celu Amberstone (Cherokee), The Dreamer’s Legacy
● Drew Hayden Taylor (Anishinaabe), The Night Wanderer
● Sequoyah Guess (Keetoowah Cherokee), Kho:Lvn (The Ravenmocker), Red Eye
Scholars in the field of Indigenous speculative fiction:
● Carter Meland (Ojibway): see web essays, “The Possibilities (and Problems) of Indigenizing SF” and “American Indians at the Final Frontiers of Imperial SF”)
● Jodi Byrd (Chickasaw)
● Danika Medak-Saltzman (Turtle Mountain Chippewa)
● Christopher Teuton (Cherokee)
● Amy H. Sturgis (Cherokee Nation): see edited book (with David O. Oberhelman), The Intersection of Fantasy and Native America: From H.P. Lovecraft to Leslie Marmon Silko (2009)
● Grace L Dillan, Walking the Clouds: An Anthology of Indigenous Science Fiction, (2012)
Also, see Michael Sheyahshe (Caddo), Native Americans in Comic Books: A Critical Study (2008)
The following writers are profiled in Grace Dillon’s “Walking the Clouds: An Anthology of Indigenous Science Fiction”:
Diane Glancy (Cherokee)
Simon Ortiz – “Men on the Moon”
Archie Weller -(Murri)
Leslie Marmon Silko