Genre: Diversity in Science Fiction

April 3, 2018, 9:45 am to Noon
Griswold Memorial Library, Colrain



An Unkindness of Ghosts by Rivers Solomon


The Three-Body Problem by Liu Cixin



Diverse books are those that reflect and honor the life experience of all readers. We Need Diverse Books defines diversity as: “including (but not limited to) LGBTQIA, Native, people of color, gender diversity, people with disabilities*, and ethnic, cultural, and religious minorities.”

*including but not limited to physical, sensory, cognitive, intellectual, or developmental disabilities, chronic conditions, and mental illnesses (this may also include addiction), as well as a social model of disability, which presents disability as created by barriers in the social environment, due to lack of equal access, stereotyping, and other forms of marginalization.

Science Fiction (Wikipedia):

Science fiction (often shortened to SF or sci-fi) is a genre of speculative fiction, typically dealing with imaginative concepts such as futuristic science and technology, space travel, time travel, faster than light travel, parallel universes, and extraterrestrial life. Science fiction often explores the potential consequences of scientific and other innovations, and has been called a “literature of ideas”. It usually avoids the supernatural, unlike the related genre of fantasy. Historically, science-fiction stories have had a grounding in actual science, but now this is only expected of hard science fiction.


Afrofuturism (from LibraryAware)

Afrofuturism (from Seattle Public Library)

10 Diverse YA Fantasy & Sci-Fi Titles | SLJ Spotlight

Speculative fiction by writers of color

Explore Diverse Worlds of Fantasy and Science Fiction: Young Adult I

27 Female Authors Who Rule Sci-Fi and Fantasy Right Now

Where’s the diversity in sci-fi? Five authors to read now

The Book Smugglers


Notes from our session:

Readers’ Advisory Round Table Western Mass
Diversity in Science Fiction
3 April 2018

Massachusetts Library Association May 21-23 in Framingham, several RA programs on the schedule!
BookExpo May 30-June 2 in New York

Attendees bring your findings to our June meeting!

What’s the difference between fantasy and science fiction? Discussion.
Science Fiction: How much explaining do you want? Similar to how much sex do you want in romance, how much blood do you want in mystery.
Science Fiction is more concerned with consequences than Fantasy? Maybe.
In Science Fiction, this thing could actually happen, and not so much with Fantasy.
Fantasy: Good vs. Evil
Science Fiction: Implications from where we are
Science Fiction: Male
Fantasy: ?

Appeal factors – Joyce Saricks
Doorways – Nancy Pearl

K-Drama: let go of your expectations
Lois McMaster Bujold talks about baby stuff.
Gender identity and roles

Titles mentioned:
The Tail of the Blue Bird by Nii Ayikwei Parkes
My Real Children by Jo Walton
The Orville (TV)

Discussion of benchmarks:

The Three-Body Problem
Opens with an academic beaten to death by teen girls, setting the tone and letting you know what you are getting into. Moves into an awareness of alien intelligence and the question of whether we want them here or not. First in a trilogy. “It’s so Chinese.”

Appeal factor: Video games/Virtual Reality as a plot device

An Unkindness of Ghosts
Likable main character, fascinating world (but not a place one would want to live). Baby is the engine. “Generation Ship” trope. Racial stratification of people on ship decks, different decks have different languages. A bit of a City of Ember thing going on where things are getting worse and you have to get out or die. (Snowpiercer)

Second titles:
Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor (Molly)
Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee (Jan) first in a trilogy
Lilith’s Brood [Dawn/Adulthood Rites/Imago] by Octavia Butler (Jodi)
Barbary Station by R. E. Stearns (Alene) sequel is Mutiny at Vesta
Dark Space (Anna) short stories
An Excess Male by Maggie Shen King (Eliza and Heather)
American War by Omar El Akkad (Linda)
The Reader by Traci Chee (Betty)





One response to “Genre: Diversity in Science Fiction

  1. AN EXCESS MALE by Maggie Shen King is set in China in a future not so distant, and not so terribly different from our current reality. Some reviewers have called it a gender-flipped HANDMAID’S TALE for its emphasis on reproduction and patriarchy within family relationships. Although it’s certainly sci-fi, and virtual reality plays a significant role in the plot, the strength of this book is really in its character development and exploration of relationships. Depictions of sex and violence are not especially graphic, and the technology is more of a frame than a driving force.

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