Diversity in SFF

I’ve been very much appreciating the #DiversityInSFF conversation on Twitter for the past week.

As in any such conversation, there have been a few trolls and some attempts to derail, not to mention some at-times tacky self-promotion, but overall I think it’s been a good discussion.

I haven’t read every single Tweet, but I think I’ve come pretty close. Here are some of the highlights I remember:

  • Tor.com added the following to their submission guidelines, “We want our stories to represent the full diversity of speculative fiction, and encourage submissions by writers from underrepresented populations.”
  • The Guardian published an article titled, “It’s time for science fiction to face up to discrimination,” arguing that SF/F has to stop ignoring the diversity of our own world. While there were some problematic aspects to the article (quoting only male authors), it’s nice to see the discussion getting picked up by a major news outlet. (The comments, on the other hand, are often cringeworthy.)
  • Lightspeed Magazine announced a “Women Destroying SF” issue. I don’t know if this was directly in response to the #DiversityInSFF conversation, but either way, I love that they’re taking shots at the “Oh no, girl cooties are destroying SF!!!” nonsense.
  • Mary Robinette Kowal put together a survey asking Who are the fans of speculative fiction?
  • Romantic Times posted an article about 5 Diverse SFF Novels You Should Read. (I have mixed feelings about my own novel being included in that list.)
  • People shared resources for encouraging and increasing diversity in the genre, including:

There was much more, including discussion of panel parity, accessibility issues, gender, sexual orientation, DC’s ongoing failures when it comes to diversity in comics, movies, small press vs. large, the need for translated fiction, and so on. I’ve also seen the discussion picked up elsewhere.

Along related lines, Rose Lemberg has started an #accessiblecons conversation on Twitter, talking about how to make conventions more accessible (an ongoing problem in fandom).

Will Twitter hashtags fix the world? Obviously not. But I strongly believe talking about problems, and more importantly, listening to the people pointing out those problems, is the first step to solving them. There are editors and agents who changed their guidelines as a result of this conversation. Authors reconsidered their own choices. Readers and viewers of SFF who took another look at their preferences and decided to check out something new.

If you’re on Twitter, I strongly recommend reading through some of the #DiversityInSFF conversation. A fair amount of it is 101-level, but in my opinion, there’s some very good stuff.