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189180Re: SFF Art and Racial Bias (were: Re: [CONLANG] Importance of good worldbuilding (was: What in the world is in the World?))

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  • Eric Christopherson
    Jun 24, 2012
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      On Jun 13, 2012, at 9:08 PM, Padraic Brown wrote:

      > --- On Wed, 6/13/12, Adam Walker <carraxan@...> wrote:
      >
      >> For the most part, people on SFF covers are white even if the characters
      >> in the book are not. We managed to come up with a bare handful of covers
      >> featuring non-white human faces, despite the fact that faces are on a
      >> very significant portion of SFF covers. I managed to come up with one
      >> cover featuring a Chinese face and two that feature American Indian
      >> faces (one of which is sequal to the other) and I just thought of one
      >> more with an African-American face, but as poorly as non-whites are
      >> represented in SFF stories, they are even more poorly represented on
      >> covers. It seems there maybe an industry opinion that books with
      >> non-white faces on the cover won't sell.
      >
      > Interesting! Next time I'm in the Shop, I'll make an informal survey. One
      > thing I wonder at is the assumption that non-whites are poorly represented
      > in SFF stories. I can't actually recall the skin tone of the vast majority
      > of SFF characters actually being addressed. Some are, to be sure, but
      > could it not be said equally true that it's simply our own biases (as
      > readers) that the stories all involve white people and not some other
      > colour? I also freely admit that I could simply be not remembering key
      > descriptions that are in fact regularly made in such stories!

      One of my favorite recent sci-fi books, _Spin_ by Robert Charles Wilson [spoiler alert] has a small group of humans colonize Mars, and their descendents evolve for the equivalent of tens (maybe hundreds?) of thousands of years into a race of very short people with dark, wrinkly skin. One of them comes to Earth (which for reasons explained in the book has not undergone tens or hundreds of thousands of years of development), and soon becomes a celebrity and even a messiah of sorts, especially among the darker-complected peoples of Earth. Although I thought that it was a cool idea for him to have that sort of specific following, I've always felt a little uneasy with the idea, like it's patronizing.
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