My friend Ian Hagemann, a regular at Wiscon, once said on a panel that when he reads science fiction futures that are full of white people and no one else, he wonders when the race war happened that wiped out the majority of the human race, and why the writer hasn't mentioned such an important plot point.
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It's so the stories go that the Ginen tell. If you find a beautiful fairmaid swimming in the river, her fish tail flashing; if you follow her down into her water home with her, she will make the water like air so you can breathe. But then she'll ask you, playful, You eat salt, or you eat fresh? And if you say salt, she will let you go back home, but if you say fresh ... 'It's my business, ' he said. Pouted. Looked at the ground. If you only eat unsalted food, fresh food, we believe you make Lasire¨n vexed, for salt is the creatures of the sea, and good for the Ginen to eat, but fresh-fresh is the flesh of Lasire¨n, and if you eat that, it's pride. You're trying to make yourself as one of the lwas. Makandal never eats salt. He, a living man, giving himself powers like a lwa. That's why he couldn't hear the voice of the lwas.
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We are all here, all the powers of the Ginen lives for all the centuries that they have been in existence, and we all fight. We change when change is needed. We are a little different in each place that the Ginen have come to rest, and any one of is already many powers. No cancer can fell us all, no blight cover us completely.
I wish more fantasy, especially the dominant fantasy that draws heavily on British and Christian lore, would wrestle with its own ethnospecific nature and what that means when the story is set somewhere where more than one belief system is in operation. If all you do is pay lip service to it, you can get the kind of thing where the writer has thrown one Hindu god into a Christianist fantasy (rendering said god by default a demon or otherwise inferior to the dominant religious system of the story, which is such an insult), and the hero is able to vanquish it by chanting a spell in church Latin.
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It's the thing I struggle with every day: the mental diligence and stamina needed to sit in front of the computer, open the file, start writing and to keep doing so, word after word, until I've created the next story. A combination of learning disability and chronic health issues make that the hardest thing for me.
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You look at science fiction and look how often it talks about being alien, being alienated about the other. Look at the number of blue people - 'Avatar,' I'm looking at you. And it is now easier to find people of color in science-fiction literature and media, but the issues of representation are still really, really troubling.