Monday, April 13, 2015

Fight for Utopia

Even in imagining the future, there are retrograde forces attempting to limit the participation of diverse communities. They aim to narrow our vision and suppress our collective dreams.

This should not stand. Exclusionary individuals have become the forces of tyranny that science fiction would have us question and rebel against. They might cloak themselves in the language of freedom ("Stop the PC police" "Take back the genre from the left!") but in reality use fear, intimidation, and hatred to achieve their intolerant aims. It is essentially a human story old and new.

As Kameron Hurley notes in a piece in The Atlantic, science fiction and fantasy have "grown dramatically, and last year, work by women and people of color from a diverse range of publishers swept the Nebula Awards in addition to the Hugos." As a response to this evolving cultural phenomenon, "why are so many fringe groups escalating their protests in gaming, in comics, and in the science-fiction community? ... it’s no coincidence that many of the people block voting these awards are the same ones sending death threats to women and people of color, sending SWAT teams to the addresses of critics, and hijacking accounts and identities to try and silence those creating more inclusive stories."

"It's only science-fiction," some members of the public might cry. "What's the big deal?" Hurley challenges the reader to ask: "Why should it matter that there was a block vote led in large part by a group whose most vociferous leader wants to disenfranchise entire groups of people?"

"The truth is that our wars of words and narrative matter, especially those that tell us what sorts of possible futures we can build—and groups like Gamergate,  Sad Puppies, and Rabid Puppies understand this. The author Ursula K. Le Guin said it best in her National Book Award acceptance speech:
'We live in capitalism. Its power seems inescapable. So did the divine right of kings. Any human power can be resisted and changed by human beings. Resistance and change often begin in art, and very often in our art—the art of words.'
In culture today, "much of the stuff you see in film, television, comics, and and children’s cartoons got its start inside the inspired, disruptive halls of science-fiction and fantasy literature." Thus, the literary (and extra-literary) clashes in science fiction are actually a fight for reality, a fight for our society's future.

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