Conventional vs. Unconventional: Lack of Diversity in the Genre of Science Fiction

In an article by David Barnett entitled, “It’s Time for Science Fiction to Face Up to Discrimination”, he discuses the desire to see more diversity amongst both the writers of science fiction and the characters in their stories. In the article, Barnett explains why he feels it is paradoxical that such an unconventional genre focuses so much on conventional ideas and images. Majority of the main characters in science fiction are white males and although the stories are interesting, it would not hurt to include more examples of the diverse world in which we all live.
Having taken a science fiction course in my junior year of college, the majority of the semester was spent analyzing the works of a variety of authors that had been combined into an anthology. Since I attended an all women’s college, I am almost certain that my teacher made sure that we read a few stories with main characters that were female, but half way through the semester, I realized that she wanted to make us aware of the major disparities between the authors and their stories. We were given the ability to choose which stories we wanted to read, but if we wanted something outside of the normal model of a science fiction story, our choices would be limited.
The World Science Fiction Conference (WorldCon) took place two weeks ago and after speaking with a few attendees, Barnett was able to ascertain that the need for diversity has not gone unnoticed by the convention chairs, but the problem is that those who are seeking change the most are not actively involved in helping to bring it about., one of the largest publishers of online fiction, has become proactive and altered their publishing guidelines to explain the type of diversity that they want the stories to reflect which “includes but is not limited to writers of any race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, nationality, class and ability, as well as characters and settings that reflect these experiences.” Science fiction authors and fans alike are utilizing social media outlets such as Twitter and Facebook to voice their concerns, but these outlets can only fuel conversations for so long before fans will actually expect to see a change.



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