Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Racefail 2009

About which you can read more here, here, here, or even here.

As I understand it, (and I only heard about it two days ago on Torque Control and Whatever, linked above) the whole thing started off with a post by Elizabeth Bear on how to write "the Other," whether other races, genders, sexual orientations, etc. I've since read the original post, and it was an honest attempt to grapple with the question. More of a public mini-essay than any attempt to be definitive about it. Somewhere in the comments thread, things got a bit snippy. There were posts in response. It turned into a general discussion of people of colour in SF/Fantasy fiction in general, and within fandom as well. Then there were open letters, and more posts, and things got ugly. About which ugliness, see Scalzi's blog. Someone tried to use one of his comment threads to out an anonymous blogger's identity. And there'd been no discussion about the debate on Whatever about the topic, which had been confined almost entirely to LiveJournal, and flying under a lot of folks' radar.

The only thing I have to add to the whole mess is that it seems like it's the progressive end of the SF/Fantasy blogosphere that's tearing itself to shreds. I wandered over to John Ringo's site earlier today, he of Oh John Ringo No fame. Anything going on there? No, all's quiet in his forums. Now, if there's anyone who could benefit from a little consciousness raising in SF, you'd think it would be him. Go on, click that link. It's a review of Watch on the Rhine, a John Ringo collaboration in which rejuvenated Waffen SS soldiers save the Earth from an alien horde. 'Cause they're just misunderstood good guys.


And Racefail started because a writer was trying to talk about how she goes through the process of trying to get characters from another background right, about how she tries to make them real and whole characters. And among the mess of screeching (which I do not have the patience to entirely sort through) I've found some good posts by pros and fans about those issues, and about race and gender in SF in general.

SF does contain overt, and unconscious, racism. John Ringo's bizarro novel was just the first one that popped into my head, and I used it here as an example, not to encourage anyone to extend the messy discussion to his place. But the people savaging one another in this thing? I'm thinking 99 percent of them are not part of the problem. The people who are, aren't even aware that it's going on.

ETA: cleaned up some of my messy sentence construction Wednesday at noon. It is better to write when wide awake.

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