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Book Plug Friday: Diversity in Fiction

...or Good Heavens, Grow up Already

by
Sarah Hoyt and Charlie Martin

Bio

December 6, 2013 - 1:05 pm
I don't care if you're purple with polka dots and write one eyed, one legged Samoan transsexual lesbians. If it's interesting I'll buy it.  If it's not, I'll buy some beer. It's my money. It's not a social diversity tax.

I don’t care if you’re purple with polka dots and write one eyed, one legged Samoan transsexual lesbians. If it’s interesting I’ll buy it. If it’s not, I’ll buy some beer. It’s my money. It’s not a social diversity tax.

Diversity of voice has nothing to do with how well you tan.

Today I [this is Sarah. It wouldn’t be fair to let Charlie take responsibility for my sins] am not in the best of moods. I’m certainly not in the best of moods for suffering idiots gladly. Or, indeed, at all.

While I, like every other writer ever born, call a nice snowy, gloomy day the perfect writing weather, there is something about single digit temperatures that just gets on my nerves. For one, they prevent me from going for walks. Which means they leave me stuck at home, reading the blathering of fools.

In this case the new hotness of concerned fiction – at least science fiction – writers to debate is just how representative and gosh durned inclusive fiction in general and science fiction in particular should be.

It will surprise none of you who remember that SFWA went into convulsions over two elderly men referring to female writers as ladies and having the nerve to say one of them was beautiful, to find that the new hoo-ha originated in SFWA too.

See, SFWA wants to raise the rate that’s considered professional, but some people say this will limit diversity, because the publications that would be excluded are more likely to be minority. (This is by the way of being pernicious twaddle, btw. The publications that would be excluded are likely to be convoluted literary nonsense. Maybe that’s the new minority.)This has degenerated into a war where people agonize over how to get diversity into the field, and other people call them concern trolls. And those are just the ones I have on hand right now. All this makes me laugh like a hyena and then cry like a mourner.

Why cry? Because lost in all this is the fact that fiction is not a form of glorified social work. Fiction is not designed to make people understand or be more sensitive. We are not Maoists raising others’ consciousness. (Well, maybe some of those people are.)

Fiction is one thing only: entertainment. First of all you have to tell a story people want to read. An amusing enough, interesting enough story that people will pick that book up, pay good beer money for it, and not set it down till they’ve finished reading it.

The best compliment a writer can get is “You b*tch”(or b*stard, speaking of inclusiveness) “You kept me up all night reading this book.” It is not “I noticed you had statistically correct proportions of all minorities in this book.”
And if your main concern is making sure you collect one of each minority, including the rare one eyed, one legged Samoan transsexual lesbian, I find it highly unlikely you have any brain left over to actually entertain me. (Unless it’s with your contortions to find a yet more obscure minority.)

You know what the real “diversity fail” is? It’s being so afraid of stepping out of the PC iron maiden that you write exactly like everyone else. Which makes me think of Reiner Kunze’s lines “The trees grow top on top…. To the wind, they all whisper the same.”

A field that is tearing itself apart over whether its works are diverse and representative enough is a field that has lost touch with the fact that it’s a business.

Very few readers read for “someone my color” in the story, and those that do might be a very, very boutique market not worth pursuing.

Hook them with a fun story first, and think about that above all. Then bring up the plight of One Legged Samoan Transsexual Lesbians. Because at that point it’s your hobby, and who cares? Also you stand a better chance of being heard. Books left unread can push all the agendas they want. No one reads them.

And then they wonder why indies are eating their lunch (and dinner, and midday snack, too.)

Send an email to book.plug.friday@gmail.com for guidelines, which include the suggestion that you send AUTHOR, TITLE, BLURB, and AMAZON LINK. These are mandatory suggestions.


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Pixie Noir
By Cedar Sanderson

Lom is a bounty hunter, paid to bring magical creatures of all descriptions back Underhill, to prevent war with humans should they discover the strangers amongst them. Bella is about to find out she’s a real life fairy princess, but all she wants to do is live peacefully in Alaska, where the biggest problems are hungry grizzly bears. He has to bring her in. It’s nothing personal, it’s his job…

“They had almost had me, that once. I’d been young and foolish, trying to do something heroic, of course. I wouldn’t do that again anytime soon. Now, I work for duty, but nothing more than is necessary to fulfill the family debt. I get paid, which makes me a bounty hunter, but she’s about to teach me about honor. Like all lessons, this one was going to hurt. Fortunately, I have a good gun to fill my hand, and if I have to go, she has been good to look at.”

“To those of you who thought there was nothing new worth reading in Fantasy: Pixie Noir proves that you are wrong. The pace picks up throughout, so save this book for a weekend, or you’ll be complaining about a lack of sleep at work. A very good read!”
– Dave Freer, author of Dog and Dragon

“The unlikely love child of Monster Hunter International and the Princess Bride, this book … is unalloyed fun all the way.”
– Sarah A. Hoyt, author of Darkship Thieves

“If Dashiel Hammett, Larry Corriea and Jim Butcher had a love child, it would be Pixie Noir. A wonderful mix of mystery and fantasy with just the right touch of noir.”
– Amanda S. Green, author of Nocturnal Origins


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Outcasts and Gods
By Pam Uphoff

Genetic engineering.The medical miracle of the twenty-first century.

First they cured the genetic diseases.

Then they selected for the best natural traits.

Then they made completely artificial genes.

As the test children reached puberty, abilities that had always been lost in the random background noise were suddenly obvious.

Telepathy.

Telekinesis.

At first their creators sought to strengthen these traits.

Then they began to fear them.

They called them gods, and made them slaves.


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An Involuntary Spy
By Kenneth Eade

Seth Rogan was a sh*tty spy. Actually, he wasn’t a spy at all. Just a guy trying to do the right thing. As a biologist for the largest biotech company in the world, he had a great job, and thoroughly enjoyed all the perks. But when asked to do some tests on the company’s genetically engineered foods, he became entangled in a trail of corruption and fraud that he wanted no part of, but could not escape from. In a story so true to life it could almost be from today’s newspapers, Seth, having bit the hand who fed him, is on the run from them, and the full overreaching strength of the United States government as a fugitive, who finds temporary refuge with an old enemy of the U.S. But his peace is about to be broken as he finds himself in the role of an involuntary spy.


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Undone By Fate’s Hand
By Veronika Pelka

Undone By Fate’s Hand tells the story of a Polish soldier who having survived Napoleon’s invasion of Russia, returns to Paris to find his brother’s murderer. After reluctantly agreeing to undertake a secret mission for the exiled Emperor, he finds life and missions complicated by an extraordinary Englishwoman.


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In the autumn of 1966 NYC guitarist Jimmy James arrived in London with his guitar and $30 he had borrowed from a friend. Four fast years later he died there as Jimi Hendrix. Jimi Hendrix London is the story of how Jimi Hendrix and pyschedelic London shaped each other told by poet and journalist William Saunders.


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Dream Horse
By Barbara Morgenroth

This was the best of summer vacations and it was stacking up to be the worst of summer vacations. When Jackie’s dream of having a horse of her own came true, she wasn’t prepared for the reality. Charlie was far from the perfect horse she had envisioned. He had a mind of his own and a will that was stronger than hers. Vet exam? Disaster! Trail rides? Disaster! Sleepy summer days? Disaster! She was dragged and dumped and desperate. As Charlie left Jackie in the dust, she chased after him, watching his tail disappear down the road but couldn’t keep him trotting during a riding lesson. He was cute, and charming, and knew more about riding than she did. It was less a matter of her putting up with him and more about how Charlie put up with her as Jackie struggled to become a horsewoman worthy of Charlie. In this battle of wills, who will win?

(middle reader/tween book 9-12 years of age)


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Summer Horse
By Barbara Morgenroth

Two girls plus two horses plus an entire summer equal…you do the math. Hint: enough calamity and escapades to exhaust a normal person. But Nicki and Wynne are far from average girls. Nicki and Wynne share a love of horses but not of adventure. Nicki finds herself being dragged by the strong-willed Wynne on trail-rides through thunderstorms, pig chases, hunts and a horse show with an escaped pony determined to find her stablemate even if he’s busy jumping on the outside course.
Afraid of nothing and glued to her saddle, Wynne wants to turn Nicki into a real rider and find a boyfriend for her single mother. Can anyone resist a force of nature? By the end of the summer, Nicki has the answer but will she have a horse of her own.

(middle reader/tween book 9-12 years of age)


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Rue Rachat
By Martin Crane

BLURBThe story of a young soldier in the U.S. Army’s 36th Infantry Division who is sent in to join his unit as it fights its way up the Italian Peninsula, then up through France to the very doorstep of Germany. Transforming along the way from naïve small-town boy to a seasoned combat veteran, he finds himself not only battling enemy troops, but also, after the tragic death of his best friend, his own demons of guilt and self-doubt.


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Cross and Poppy: a village tale
By GMW Wemyss

Trollopean clerics, comic peers with hidden depths, the villagers of a thousand cosy English novels … but in a very modern world: our own. The Woolfonts are the prettiest and most placid villages in England. All they’re wanting is a new rector. They get him; and, with him, sudden crises, deaths, arson, attempted murder, in which the new rector becomes a leader and an example, as sacrifice and grace play out between the village fête and the poppies of Remembrance Sunday.


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’37: the year of portent
By Markham Shaw Pyle and GMW Wemyss

1937 was the year of Guernica and the New London School explosion, of landmarks for Wittgenstein, Bohr, and Eliot; the year the Golden Gate Bridge was completed, Disney’s Snow White premiered, and Tolkien published The Hobbit. The Ohio River flooded, Buchenwald opened, George VI was crowned, World War Two began in China, Nanking was raped, and FDR got his head handed him by Congress, bipartisanly. It was a year of portent, of sign and omen; and it is recounted and its subtleties traced by the celebrated historians of the Titanic enquiries, Churchill’s 1940 triumph, and Congress’ 1941 war preparations. Here is history in the grand manner.

Sarah Hoyt and Charlie Martin write and blog on science, science fiction, self-improvement, culture, and politics for PJ Lifestyle. Send an email to book.plug.friday@gmail.com for submission guidelines for Book Plug Friday, a weekly listing of independently published e-books.

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Two of my favorite science fiction novels are "Starship Troopers" by the immortal Robert Heinlein and "The Janus Syndrome" by Steven E. McDonald. Does it matter to me that Heinlein's cap trooper Johnny Rico is Filipino and McDonald's Agent Commander Kevven Tomari is black? Hell, no! They are rocking good stories regardless.
19 weeks ago
19 weeks ago Link To Comment
Oh hell yeah. Just with Heinlein, Eunice in "I Will Fear No Evil", Friday, the guy in "The Cat Who Walks Through Walls", and he wrote a whole book about the evils of slavery in "Farnam's Freehold".
19 weeks ago
19 weeks ago Link To Comment
The diversity rats in SFF somehow never care if hip-hop is too black, boxing too Latino or romance literature too female. That fact should alert everyone that the main force driving this are not the principled people they pretend to be, but racial bigots using diversity as a screen.

If it's true white straight men can hate for the sake of hating, then why not black homosexual lesbians? The tie-breaker and second bit of evidence is that no white straight men have awards for themselves, anthologies for themselves or recommend books on their blogs cuz a white male wrote them.

But guess who does do that? Twitter is your friend.

I can't wait for them to attack samba for being too black, call them a Portuguese Lusophone racist hegemony, and insist more white people are needed or samba isn't a reflection of the world around them because I want to see someone like myself singing "Praça Onze," but with Vikings and no "praça" or "onze" and not in colonialist Portuguese.
19 weeks ago
19 weeks ago Link To Comment
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