dmp: (Ay-leen the Peacemaker)
I just mentioned Expanded Horizons in my latest Beyond Victoriana post, but they deserve to be highlighted because their mission statement is pure win. Quoted below:

What We’re About

Speculative fiction is any fiction which asks, at its core, “What if?” Speculative fiction encompasses science fiction (SF), fantasy, horror, slipstream, and other speculative genres.

The mission of this webzine is to increase diversity in the field of speculative fiction, both in the authors who contribute and in the perspectives presented. We feature speculative fiction stories and artwork, as well as essays about speculative fiction and fandom from diverse points of view.

Speculative fiction is an uncomfortable art – it is a tool by which we artists push readers and viewers outside of their comfort zones into the truly alien, and in so doing, help them to face themselves and grow as human beings. Excellent speculative fiction depends upon excellent “perspective shifting” skills- the same “mental muscles” we use when we learn to live, work and play with people from different racial, ethnic, cultural and sub-cultural backgrounds. In forming Expanded Horizons, we aim to push the field of speculative fiction out of its own “comfort zone” toward increased inclusion of, and comfort with, diverse perspectives, backgrounds and points of view.

It is comparatively easy to ask “what if?” about an alien culture that is labeled “fictional” than it is to learn to see through the eyes of those people who are different from us in our own neighborhoods and communities. In the real world, we have to take risks- and we can’t close the book if we don’t like what we see. But the speculative fiction community enjoys a challenge, embraces the “alien” with child-like curiosity. What if the readers and writers of speculative fiction applied their “perspective shifting” skills not just to the story on the page, but also to their own communities? What if speculative fiction itself aimed to push readers, writers and editors alike toward appreciating actual diversity with the same enthusiasm as we approach fictional diversity?

What if?

Our Mission

The mission of Expanded Horizons is to increase diversity in speculative fiction and to create a venue for the authentic expression of under-represented voices in the genre. We do not publish material which does not fit with and further the mission of our magazine.
Our specific objectives include (but are not limited to):
  • Increasing the number of authentically portrayed people of color in speculative fiction
  • Increasing authentic ethnic diversity in speculative fiction
  • Increasing the number of women authors in speculative fiction
  • Increasing the number of authentically portrayed gay, lesbian, bisexual and asexual people in speculative fiction
  • Increasing the number of authentically portrayed transgender, transsexual, intersex and genderqueer⁄fluid people in speculative fiction
  • Increasing the number of authentically portrayed people with disabilities in speculative fiction
  • Publishing essays on speculative fiction and fandom which relate closely to the challenges and importance of diversifying the field
  • Creating a venue so that under-represented minorities who tend to be represented unrealistically or negatively in most speculative fiction may speak out in their own voice
We are expressly welcoming of submissions from esoteric minorities, including Otherkin in the broadest and most inclusive definition of the term, Vampyres, and people with rare, energetic sensitivities and awarenesses.

Their submissions guidelines gave me a fangasm when I read it too.

dmp: From the Dobrininskaya metro station (Faded Glory)
Gems from this speech by Chimamanda Adichie as part of the TEDtalks series (typed out myself, though I really want a transcript of the whole thing):

"I recently spoke at a university where a student told me that it was such a shame that Nigerian men where physical abusers like the father character in my novel. I told him that I had just read a novel called American Psycho, and that it was such a shame that young Americans were serial murderers.

Now obviously I said this in a fit of mild irritation but it would have never occurred to me to think just because I read a novel in which a character was a serial killer that he was somehow representative of all Americans, and this is not because I am a better person than that student but because America's cultural and economic power, I had many stories of America...."
"The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue but that they are incomplete. They make the one story become the only story.

Of course Africa is a continent full of catastrophes--the immense ones such as the horrific rapes in Congo or the depressing ones such as the fact that 5,000 people apply for one job vacancy in Nigeria--but there are other stories not about catastrophe, and it is very important--it is just as important to talk about them. I've always felt it is impossible to engage properly with a place or a person without engaging with all of the stories of that place or that person. The consequence of the single story is this: it robs people of dignity."
"Stories matter. Many stories matter. Stories have been used to dispossess and to malign. But stories can also be used to empower and to humanize. Stories can break the dignity of a people but stories can also repair that broken dignity."
dmp: Taking a stroll in my finery (Default)

“In the colonies the truth stood naked, but the citizens of the mother country preferred it with clothes on.”- Jean-Paul Sartre


When I first became interested in steampunk last year, I posed a question to one of my friends.

Me: “So… I was wondering about steampunk, where does colonialism fit in?

Friend: “Colonialism? Like in the Colonies?”

Me: “Like being from the colonies.

Friend: “Oh, you can do that. They’re different types of subgenres in steampunk, and it can take place in America.”

Pause right there. I wasn’t referring to America. Or was I? Yes, my friends and I are from the US and steampunks, and most identify our personas as being from the “Colonies.” Yet their idea of what the Colonies represented in steampunk—aka an alternative America that was still under control of the British Empire during the Victorian Era—and my interpretation of the colonies—aka the actual ones that had existed during the Victorian Era—were vastly different. Which leads to the questions I’d like to explore here. Why is the concept of the United States as a colonized America so appealing to steampunks? Is this notion damaging to steampunks of color (SoCs), whose histories are negatively intertwined with the realities of colonialism? Does the idea of a colonial America promote or denounce the imperialism that existed during the Age of Empire?


Read more... )
dmp: Taking a stroll in my finery (Default)
Note: This was originally written in my personal blog, but I’ve revised it and initially posted it on my steampunk persona blog on MySpace in participation with The Asian Women Blog Carnival. This post had no relation to the rest of my MySpace site which is a fictional blog for my steampunk character.

I've re-posted the essay here to consolidate more of my thoughts on steampunk. I’m interested in having fellow steampunkers (and other curious folk!) read this, however, and add any contributions to the discussion I’m starting here.

Essay history:
Originally written 3/22/2009
Revised and posted to MySpace: 3/25/2009
Reposted onto Dreamwidth: 6/25/2009


I finally sat down and started to read through the whole whole big RaceFail09 drama over in the sci-fi writing world. I had read the first bits on Elizabeth Bear’s blog back in January, but now saw now much it had morphed into this huge, sleep-depriving read.

When I first read it, it brought up a lot of concerns I had been having about steampunk. Particularly about “Where am I?” in steampunk culture. After all, steampunk is all about the sci-fi, and if people of color (PoC) are having issues with sci-fi in general, then would the turf here be any better?
Read more... )

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