Fantasy’s “Othering” Fetish

17 thoughts on “Fantasy’s “Othering” Fetish”

  1. I’m not really familiar with most of the books/films you commented on (I’ve only seen the Lord of the Rings films, and read The Two Towers) but I liked reading this, as a white person who wants to include non-white characters in speculative fiction in a better, more respectable way. In some respects I am able to present them as having equal footing, though interestingly enough, since I am focused on 17th century predominantly English pirates, in some cases I’m actually presenting white people as more savage. Especially when I also include the mention of the English enslaving Africans. I actually didn’t even think about it in those terms until I read this. I was, however, conscious about having one of my white characters “other” Africans.

    I suspect I will still be met with criticism, but I think criticism can still be healthy, because it at least gets people talking about the issues. Without discussion, we can’t understand them.

    1. Dominica, thanks for the read and the comments. It’s great that as a writer you’re including more diversity in your work. Criticism may come, but as you say, it’s a teaching moment. Good luck! Also, somewhere on this blog, there’s a write up on pirates…including a few black ones. Aaargh!

      1. Excellent! Thanks. I shall have to look for it when I get the chance. I’m in the midst of trying to write a final few scenes that I decided were needed in my novel before I get on a plane in less than 11 hours, so my editor/proofreaders can start going over it while I’m travelling. If you’ve got an exact link, though, feel free to send it my way!

  2. Hello! I’m doing a panel at Geek Girl Con about how the Victorian predilection for making up boxes and then stuffing whoever they found into those boxes has influenced the modern American ideas of “how people dressed then/there” and how that impacts a) costuming and b) really terribly incorrect period-policing. Do you mind if I reference and/or quote this post? It seems particularly applicable since I’m most familiar with costumes in larping, which is hugely influenced by fantasy works and largely done by amateurs/hobbyists.

    Feel free to email me, too, if you’ve got questions; I realize this is something of a summary and you might want to make sure I’m not going to stitch together something crazy, magazine cut-out ransom letter style 🙂

  3. Thank you for posting this! It might be just the push I need to write a future romance novel starring the POC secondary character I established in my first book. I’ve been wanting her to take a starring role for a year now, but I’ve never quite had the courage.

  4. Fantastic article! Reading stuff like this always gets me thinking and helps me better analyze my writing so I can better add diversity. (Also, it gave me some new authors to look up!)

  5. So, I know this is probably going to be shot down, but I know that as a white guy who knows few people at all, let alone POC, I should avoid writing POC. But on the other hand, if I had an idea for a post-apocalyptic USA story, I feel it would be dishonest for me to ignore the race question altogether. Would you mind if I told you the idea, or perhaps sent it to you as an outline. Then you could tell me where I went wrong. (I assume it would be in more than a few places.)
    If not, simply say no. If yes, I can at least try to be the next Gene Roddenberry, and get an Uhura into fantasy. (It won’t be much, but it might get roles for POC actors, and I might be able to plug minority writers once I’m in.) Sorry I can’t do more.

    1. Hey Lord Hellscream, you shouldn’t at all be afraid to write PoC. I think admitting you may not have the experience necessary to do so accurately and honesty is the best step possible. That doesn’t mean you–or any of us–shouldn’t try to step outside our niche. Also, you might try and do it wrong. But this is writing–we get critiqued on dozens of things, why not also this? I’d like to tell you I’d have time to look at your story/outline idea and give you feedback in a reasonable time–but I’d be lying. My to-do list is the height of Mt Doom. However, there are numerous online sites and blogs you can find for steps in writing diversity. Even better, there are online and RL writing workshops frequented by people of diverse backgrounds. For me, these have helped. Even better, have been reading works by authors from diverse backgrounds representing themselves. I’ve learned so much either just listening or reading and picking up insights. And it continues to be a learning process. So don’t be afraid of diversity–just do the same due diligence you’d do in your world building or science or Elvish! Provided the apocalypse has elves…of course. Good luck!

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