Saturday, May 24, 2008

No Racism in SciFi - Until Now

It's official - there is now an organization to promote racism in scifi purchases. The link goes to the Carl Brandon society, which is apparently dedicated to documenting blackness in science fiction. It offers affirmative action scholarships to "people of color" aspiring to be scifi writers and also hands out a yearly award for best scifi book penned by a person of color.

YAAAAWWWWNNN.

Race-equality advocates really have descended into self-parody if they think science fiction is a community that needs fixing. From an article about race in scifi in the Boston Globe:


It's an area of fiction that has allowed writers to tackle sensitive issues of race and culture.

"It has always been the safe genre to talk about those issues," Harry says, "or it had been for years until there was a lot more tolerance for bringing those things up in the mainstream."


Another portion of the article has a black fan - the only black attendee at Readercon last year - saying "They're the most accepting group of folks I've ever been with."

That's basically my impression too. There are certainly some issues to discuss with regard to scifi and feminism. Though, for the record, I'm in the camp that believes that the genre as a whole has always been quite accepting of feminist viewpoints - at least since Harlan Ellison started calling it "speculative fiction" in the 60s - even if some of the more prominent writers in the genre (Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov and Robert A. Heinlein - i.e. the "big three" - spring to mind here) were pretty clearly misogynist. (I realize that will be controversial with regard to Heinlein; I stand by my statement.) But racially intolerant? Simply put - never. I can't speak for the pulps (the one book I read by Edgar Rice Burroughs was, I admit, quite racist - one of the reasons I never gave him a second read), but I can't recall ever thinking that I was in the presence of racial bias in a science fiction book written from the golden age (the 50s) on. Quite the contrary, in fact, I would argue that science fiction was always on the forefront in fighting racism. We're all well aware that the first interracial kiss on American TV was on Star Trek, but that's just scratching the surface. Misogynist though I think he probably was, Heinlein, for example, was no racist, and was in fact fond of pulling the Cosby tactic of waiting until halfway through the novel to let slip that the protagonist is, in fact, a person of color. It's never a big issue in his books, but it is a sly way of asserting racial equality and challenging his readers on their mental assumptions. And as for Chip Delaney, it was years before I realized he was black just because in all the editorials I read by various other authors discussing their friendships with him, no one ever thought to mention it. It wasn't until I read literary criticism of his work that his race suddenly mattered - and that, I assume, only because literary critics are unfortunately trained to think in these terms (I know, having an undergraduate degree in LitCrit myself).

No - there is little, if any, racism in scifi. So of course it had to be introduced. Such is the sad state of liberation movements in the US these days: where there are no enemies, it is necessary to invent them. And that is just what the Carl Brandon society - along with the spate of LitCrit and literary anthologies of "colored" science fiction that have begun to spring up in recent years - are up to.

Thanks, guys. See a good thing, and ruin it.

It's things like this that remind one that many purported liberation movements have no such goal as liberation in mind. Rather, they exist to perpetuate the problem, like scratching at an itch, just because it gives them something to do. Science fiction doesn't need a group dedicated to discussing race issues and pushing books by authors of color. Authors of color do just fine in this genre, because this genre is in general tolerant and colorblind. Sucks to see us now having our consciouness raised way back down to the dark ages.

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