Part of the issue I have reading scifi is so much of it is “a wandering band of white men set out to colonize space” and it’s just like reading a history book except there are asteroids.
Okay, seriously. I’ve been staring at this post for like an hour trying to name one book like this and I can’t. What awful sci-fi novels are you kids reading?
What about the Red Mars series or 2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson? 2312 plays a lot with gender, too, not just race. Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. La Guin? (Hell, most things by Ursula K. La Guin…) The Faded Sun trilogy by C.J. Cherryh? Jesus, Island in the Sea of Time by S.M. Stirling has time-travelling interracial space lesbians! Ben Bova’s Mars is about the Navajo nation terraforming Mars. Imperial Earth by Arthur C. Clarke’s lead is a bisexual dude. The Expanse series by James S.A. Corey is a ragtag team of space explorers and only one guy is white. Literally nothing by Octavia Butler or Margret Atwood fit this trope you’ve painted out, either.
And that’s just the ones I can think of that take place IN space, which this post seems to assume is ALL SCI-FI. Granted, a lot of older sci-fi is a bunch of old white dudes, like Brave New World and that sort of thing. But what about Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson?
The lead is an interracial badass hacker, there.
Y the Last Man is a comic series by Brian K. Vaughan where there is only one human man left alive after all the others mysteriously die off. Tons of lesbians and nonwhite characters.
It sounds to me like you kids watched James Cameron’s Avatar and declared yourselves aficionados of the whole fucking genre. I understand being sheltered, it’s hard to go looking for stuff that you don’t hear about on every best-seller list. But you cannot blame the genre as a whole on your own ignorance.
adding to kelty’s brilliant post to say that if you think sci-fi is just White Dudes Colonizing Space then you probably have no idea what sci-fi actually is. i’ve been a sci-fi fan my whole fucking life and i have no clue what the fuck kind of sci-fi you’re talking about, because literally nothing that’s been popular in the past 75 years in the sci-fi genre fits that description? like ok, first of all, sci-fi as a /genre/ was invented by arab writers, so let’s get that straight: it was not invented by white dudes and stop perpetuating the myth that it was.
sci-fi has always been a means by which inclusivity could be snuck past the radar, because in times when it wasn’t really accepted to have non-white or LGBTQ characters, you could get away with putting them in your movie or TV show by having it be sci-fi. case in point: this is why star trek managed to have characters who were a black woman, a japanese man, and a russian man (yes this was a Huge Deal in the 1960s) and have them be portrayed in a positive manner, whereas they wouldn’t be able to do that in a show that took place in the “real world” because it was seen as too political.
not to mention that a lot of sci-fi, including the franchises tumblr likes to shit on because they have some white guys in them, follow very liberal ideologies! the original star wars trilogy literally revolves around a group of rebels (LED BY A WOMAN) fighting against a totalitarian government. padme amidala, a pivotal character in the prequel trilogy, is an explicitly anti-war senator who spends most of the prequels trying to stop the rise of said totalitarian government. star wars, as a franchise, has absolutely nothing espousing the virtues of colonialism – quite the contrary in fact, when the antagonists are literally an intergalactic, human-supremacist, sexist, exploitative, colonialist empire led by white dudes. (the fact that so many white dude star wars fans constantly jerk it to the trappings of the empire is frankly disturbing, but don’t take that as the fault of the media itself.) also, the newest series, like clone wars and rebels, have a SHITLOAD of female characters and, despite being ostensibly for kids, deal with heavy topics like oppression, bigotry, concepts of personhood, and basically everything that the OP thinks sci-fi glosses over. there isn’t a white dude in the entire cast of rebels save for a couple of imperial grunts, cameos by tarkin and vader, and the inquisitor, who is less a white dude and more “an alien who is literally the color white” – all of whom are villains.
basically: the white dudes colonizing space are almost never the good guys, even in avatar – it’s hamhanded as shit and really white-savior-y, but the entire point of that movie was that COLONIZATION IS BAD!! and as an aside, i also take issue with how the OP seems to think the definition of sci-fi is “IT TAKES PLACE IN SPACE”, because that’s… that’s not the definition of it. it’s something that’s common to a lot of works in the genre, but it sure isn’t a marker of it.
definition of sci-fi: “fiction based on imagined future scientific or technological advances and major social or environmental changes, frequently portraying space or time travel and life on other planets”
ergo, examples of things that tumblr loves that are considered sci-fi and don’t fit the description given in the OP:
- the hunger games
- neon genesis evangelion
- every gundam series (especially wing and 00, which have diverse casts and deal explicitly with colonialism and oppression)
- the alien movies
- the terminator movies
- hell, even the jurassic park movies are technically sci-fi
- PACIFIC RIM
- mad max (this is tenuous but i would say that the road warrior, beyond thunderdome, and fury road definitely fall under the “major social or environmental changes” definition)
so basically, don’t talk about what you don’t know. don’t trash an entire genre because you don’t understand the fucking definition of it, or because you saw one movie you didn’t like.
also, here’s a list of authors and works you should really educate yourself about before you make sweeping fucking judgments about ALL SCI-FI EVERYWHERE ALL THE TIME: ursula k. leguin (left hand of darkness and, as kelty said up there, pretty much everything she’s ever written), octavia butler (again, everything, but lilith’s brood is incredible), g. willow wilson (alif the unseen), n.k. jemisin (the hundred thousand kingdoms – more fantasy, but read her anyway), kim stanley robinson (the years of rice and salt), spider robinson (the callahan books), storm constantine (the wraeththu books), nancy farmer (the ear, the eye, and the arm), nnedi okorafor (who fears death), THE ENTIRE AFROFUTURISM MOVEMENT IN LITERATURE FOR FUCK’S SAKE
“a lot of older sci-fi is a bunch of old white dudes“ they say
(n.b.: a lot of what is still known as The Real Sci-Fi today is the old white dudes)
(who are more widely-read and reviewed and talked about because kyriarchy)
“let’s blame people for not knowing about the more obscure SF that has diversity” they say
“let’s call them ‘kids’ for extra fun and age-shaming” they say
“let’s point out that SF that doesn’t have diversity has ‘liberal ideology’ whatever the fuck that means” they say
What thishedgehog said. Yes, of course there is diverse scifi. I’ve read some of it, and there’s a lot more that I want to read someday. But. When I was in high school and most of the scifi I read was what my dad suggested? Yeah, it was pretty much all white guys–his scifi “cannon” is books like Foundation (which I have still not read, and honestly probably won’t), Ender, Dune, the Hitchhiker’s Guide (which I love, but isn’t really very diverse), and a whole host of others. From my mom, who doesn’t read a lot of scifi, I still got things like Pern (more women, but pretty white, as I recall, and also a TON of problems, like all the rape).
Also, the condescension in the first two replies was really unnecessary. Surely the better response would be to share how much you enjoy the genre, and happiness that you can suggest some books that the OP might enjoy more.
Yeah, I am pretty psyched by all of the book recs (few of which I’ve even heard of before, let alone read) but the tone used here is uncalled for.
Don’t shame folks for not having been exposed to more diverse works and (quite legitimately) claiming that scifi is dominated by white male leads because, you know, it is, especially in terms of the kinds of media that we are given in a classroom or generational hand-me-down environment.
Also, I went to look at the OP’s blog and they are in fact of person of colour who has far more right than us white women to complain about the lack of diversity in sci-fi, so – yeah, I think those first two posts just kinda proved their point for them, albeit probably not in the way they expected.