Science fiction and fantasy fans are a diverse bunch of people: male, female, black, white, Asian, Hispanic, gay, straight, bisexual, transgender, cisgender, queer, with and without disability; from all classes, geographical regions, and backgrounds. Especially now, when speculative fiction has taken over pop culture, and some of the most popular movies, TV shows, and books of our era — and of all time — are inarguably speculative. It’s a great time to be a geek.
But those of us who don’t fit into one particular box (and some who do) have noticed something. There’s one story that’s told in the genre over and over again. You’ve probably seen it. It’s about a straight white man, or often a bunch of straight white men, creating things with science, wielding magic, saving the world, blowing stuff up. If there are women or people of color involved, we’re probably love interests or sidekicks. We probably only talk to, or about, the white male lead. We probably die first, or to provide motivation for the protagonist.
Science fiction and fantasy, whether written for adults or children, are the genres of the imagination. We ask, “What if?” So it behooves us not to be complacent about this failure of imagination; not to let stories go untold because their creators think there’s no place for them in our (and their) genre.
As you might have guessed from the above, we’re geeks. We’re also runners. This year, we’re running the NYC Marathon — the first marathon for the both of us — and it occurred to us that this was a great opportunity to combine these two interests. This year (and every year), there have been a number of incidents in which fans have been made unwelcome or harassed online and at genre events because of their identity. This is our chance — ours and yours — to do something about it.
We’ve created this marathon fundraiser on Crowdrise to support the Speculative Literature Foundation, a non-profit organization that promotes science fiction and fantasy and encourages new writers of both adult and children’s genre literature. They’ve agreed to use the funds we raise to create a new grant called the Diverse Worlds grant, which will help writers from backgrounds traditionally underrepresented in the genre to start and continue publishing. As good science fiction and fantasy worlds should, this grant will welcome all kinds of diversity: gender, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, class, ability level, religion, etc.