Category Archives: Books

Science Fiction, The Hugos, and Diversity

If you are into reading Science Fiction you may have heard of the Hugo Awards. They are nominated and voted on by the fans of WorldCon and they are considered to be a prestigious honor. Sadly this may not be the case much longer, as a small cabal of straight white men have gamed the nomination process in a backlash against diversity. Why did they do this? Because liberal “Social Justice Warriors” have conspired against them.

Well Boo freaking Hoo.

You see, in the past several years SciFi has made great strides forward in recognizing the world consists of more than straight white dudes (SWDs). Accordingly, Hugo awards have increasingly nominated writers who looked at the world via a different perspective, and those writers have often won.

You can see what comes next a mile away, can’t you?

Yup, a few SWD writers, deciding that there was some sort of liberal conspiracy at work decided to game the system to get their own writers nominated. They named themselves the Sad Puppies as a satiric take on the ASPCA commercials featuring abused dogs – because animal abuse is absolutely hilarious, don’t you think?

As if that wasn’t bad enough another, more radical faction emerged who called themselves the Rabid Puppies. The leader of this faction is a man by the name of Vox Day (real name Theodore Beale). If you have not heard of Vox Day, consider yourself lucky because there is ample evidence in his own writings that he is a racist, sexist, homophobic pig of the worst order. Some say that’s just a persona he puts on, but at the end of the day if he is out there writing shit like calling a black woman writer “half savage” it doesn’t matter. Anyone who allies themselves with this swine loses all credibility.

Of course several other members of this little (and I do mean little) cabal have denied racism or homophobia play a part in their pity party, they just want to put the fun back into science fiction! According to them Science fiction has become preachy and political and snobbish. Plot and storytelling should come first! Never mind that plot and storytelling go perfectly well with a message of tolerance and diversity, see Octavia Butler if you doubt that. Besides, if it is all about the story, why go there with the hateful “Damn Liburruls” language? Why play the angry white guy card if you’re not a real angry white guy? And WTF is wrong with social justice anyway?

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The Face That Changed It All: Beverly Johnson

Beverly Johnson, the first black woman to grace the cover of Vogue, has written her auto biography titled The Face That Changed It All.

To celebrate the release of the book, Beverly had a Q&A session at the Museum of the City of New York hosted by none other than contributing editor at Vogue Andre Leon Talley.

Thanks to the Huffington Post, here are some highlights from that discussion:

On landing the cover of Vogue:

“I was so happy that I ran to a phone booth — some of y’all don’t even know what a phone booth is — and made a collect phone call to my mother. I was screaming, ‘I got the cover of Vogue! I got the cover of Vogue!’ She didn’t really know that was a big deal. And I remember going to the newsstand and going, ‘Oh my god, I forgot my money. I don’t have my purse on me. But this is me!’ And the guy said, ‘If that was you you’d have the money.’ That’s New York.”

On the power of being Vogue’s first black cover model:

“This is the only time in my life where I can say: Oprah, the First Lady, and Beyoncé came after me.”

On black culture’s influence on fashion:

“I believe that every culture contributes to fashion. But, I do remember Polly Mellen telling me, ‘You know where we got hot pants from? We used to go up to Harlem and we would just look at what all the community people were wearing.’

On why there are so few black designers represented in retail:

“There is so much talent and I’m mentoring some of these designers. But it’s a business and it’s a tough business. Retail is really tough. So I think it’s just a matter of time where we are able to combine the two — a good business acumen as well as extraordinary design.”

On the industry’s resistance to plus-size models in high fashion:

“Well actually, they’ve come around because they have really starting to understand now that the size of the American woman is a size 12. My daughter was a plus-size model. … When I was a model and we were super thin — people would look at us in the magazines and in real life and go, ‘Oh she’s a model!’ But they didn’t say, ‘I want to go look like her.’ But now we have to be responsible because young kids and adults look at models and try to emulate that figure — and it’s unrealistic.”

Octavia Butler is coming to TV!

If you don’t follow Science Fiction, you may not have heard of Octavia Butler. Ms Butler is considered one of the best SciFi writers to ever grace the planet and she did it by, as she said, “writing herself in.” In other words she wrote from the perspective of a marginalized black woman looking to remake society and humanity. You wouldn’t think fiction with a message of “Embrace diversity or be destroyed” would be popular in the overwhelmingly white male SciFi community, but they love her.

Now her novel Dawn may be coming to TV. Producer Allen Bain has optioned the work as the very first project for his new Bainframe production company. This is kind of a tricky project since the novel is about aliens offering the last humans a chance to survive by mating with them and creating a new species. The book has some pretty graphic sex between humans and the alien race so it will interesting to see how that is handled, not to mention the special effects budget since so many of the characters aren’t human. However, from this interview on IO9, it sounds like Bain is very mindful of the challenges this work presents and wants to remain true to Butler’s vision. Let’s hope he pulls it off.  We don’t want another Earthsea debacle.