From cinnamon galaxies and floury superclusters to coconut planets and sugary stars, photographer Navid Baraty(previously)
has cooked up an entire universe out of the contents of his kitchen cupboard. Baraty has said the “fictional space scenes” are inspired by Nasa and Hubble space telescope images.
Hey everyone! My name is J.M. Bates. I am a humble humanoid from Chicago, working in a pharmacy during the day and writing at night. I am also a contributor for Fuck Yeah Feminists!
I have finished my first novel after six years of researching, writing, editing, revising, and polishing it to perfection.
Brilliant Shadows is a feminist fantasy novel about a young lesbian of color named Nattie who acquires magical abilities from an ethereal being known as a Shadow. Nattie discovers a whole new world, finds love, fights for justice, and meets her favorite comic book heroine.
Nothing motivates me more than feeling enthusiastic about a particular scene I’m about to write. Plan it out. Keep it in the back of your mind all day. If you’re not excited about writing the “boring” parts, rework them! If it’s boring for you, it will be boring for your readers.
By now, we all know that diversity in books is a big deal. We’ve seen the statistics about how the skewed demographics of protagonists in YA novels doesn’t come close to reflecting the reality of our society. We’re aware that readers are very much in need of books that present minority perspectives in both historical and current day stories.
But how does the concept of diversity come into play when you write, oh, say, action sci-fi about futuristic zero-gravity prizefighting?!
My novel Zeroboxer released last week, and amid the reviews describing it as “gripping,” “smart,” and “action-packed,” nowhere is it being hailed as advancing the cause of diversity or shining a light on underserved segments of the population. It’s just not that kind of book, nor was that my intent as the author. However, writers like me, who write commercial genre fiction, play as much a role as anyone in making sure diversity is part of the literary landscape. We all make choices in our writing that send messages to readers.
Remember the 1996 alien invasion movie Independence Day? It might as well have been sub-titled America Saves The World because in the film, the population of Earth presumably sits around waiting for the Americans to figure out how to defeat the aliens before belatedly joining in to support Bill Pullman’s heroism. Contrast that with the 2013 film Pacific Rim, which depicts a diverse cast of characters waging an international effort to combat the Kaiju monsters. Both films are big-budget commercial spectacles—but the choices the scriptwriters made regarding characters, story, and setting result in very different depictions of the future—one far more inclusive and diverse than the other.
When I was a child, I devoured fantasy and science fiction that was, to put it gently, lacking diversity in all respects. They were written in different times, but it’s still a downer to look back on works that I greatly enjoyed and realize now, as an adult, how misogynistic and euro-centric they are. When I was creating the futuristic world of Zeroboxer, I thought about what kind of future I wanted to portray. More accurately—what kind of future would be plausible. Because any plausible future that extrapolates from our society today would be a diverse one.
In Zeroboxer, humans have colonized the inner solar system, and Mars is emerging as the fast-growing, more economically and scientifically advanced planet. In many ways, the relationship between Earth and Mars has parallels to our current global state—the economic rise of Asian countries in the last several decades, and the resultant anxiety that has provoked in the West.
That’s reinforced by assumptions that I make in my world building; the early colonists of Mars would be ones motivated to leave Earth because of environmental chaos and limited economic opportunities. They would come predominantly from parts of Asia and South America disproportionately affected by climate change and overpopulation; only a minority would hail from first-world nations like America that are already at the top of the pecking order on Earth.
So in the future, Mars has cities like New Nanjing, and a space station named after the Hindu sun god. The main character in Zeroboxer, Carr Luka, has a girlfriend that is half-Martian of Asian descent, and back on Earth, mixed race lineage is so prevalent that it’s a marketing boon that Carr is an ethnic mash-up and thus representative of typical Terrans. The future is diverse—but it’s not without problems. New racial tensions emerge between Martians, who’ve embraced genetic enhancement, and Terrans, who’ve outlawed it. None of these aspects of the story ever takes center stage in my high-action sports sci-fi novel—but they’re there, subtly but deliberately painting diversity into the background.
Even so, sometimes you slip up. In one of my early drafts, I had Carr fighting a major match on Thanksgiving Day. One of my beta readers astutely pointed out, “Thanksgiving is an American holiday. Isn’t this an international city space station? Why would Thanksgiving be a big deal?” Good point, and nice catch. It saved my book from an Independence Day style gaffe.
Diversity isn’t just a cause to be advanced by authors who write “issues novels” about characters living in the civil rights era, or immigrant stories, or coming out as gay in small town stories. All those stories are incredibly important and will always be the ones that get spotlighted for exemplifying minority perspectives. However, just because you’re writing sci-fi thrillers, romance, or funny middle grade books about dinosaurs, doesn’t mean you aren’t part of the conversation. If anything, unsung depiction of diversity in commercial genre fiction is the subtler and truer measure of progress.
Fonda Lee writes science fiction and fantasy for teens and adults. She is the author of the high-action YA science fiction novel Zeroboxer (Flux/Llewellyn, April 2015). Fonda is a corporate strategist who has advised and worked for several Fortune 500 companies, a black belt martial artist in karate and kung fu, an action movie buff, and a fan of tasty breakfasts. Born and raised in Canada, she now lives in Portland, Oregon.
I think Dean's still under the impression that something's going on with Cas and Hannah? Because Cas had to come up with a quick lie for his returned Grace, he told Dean that it was Hannah who helped him. To Dean, Hannah is either a) that female in the car, or b) the angel who told Cas to kill him. The fact that Hannah went out of her way to SAVE Cas while Dean couldn't? That hits some major sore spots.
Yeah that would do it.
*goes to quickly rewatch that little bit* Yeeeah there’s a certain amount of difference between “Woo Cas is here!” from Dean before that and then “Oh good you’re alive that’s something anyway pal” after that comment, because he was smiling wonderfully at him when he came in and even as he walks past him with the pizzas but then…
Yeah. That muted response everyone’s been so upset about comes after Cas brings up that Hannah did the thing and saved him.
For the sake of argument Dean doesn’t know Cas is lying to him at all so his subdued reaction has to be something else, because if Cas’s crappy lying blew the whole thing open, Sam’s arc would be over before it started. There are major plot reasons why Dean can only be disappointed by this not because he feels he is being lied to but because the statement itself upsets him. :P
Urgh this is awful. I didn’t stop to muse on this at all until now. (Thanks. >.<) This is a DELIGHTFULLY soap opera plot:
Hannah expressly wanted to do exactly that in 10x02 because of her awkward new ~feelings~ for Cas, Cas was like please don’t, so the lie Cas uses is romantically coded to the viewer, and Dean’s previous suspicions about Cas and Hannah are at least on the table thanks to the end of 10x03.
And then we got the contrast in the actual plot, where Cas liberates Metatron to try and save Dean twice, once with Hannah’s permission and once without. Fracturing his relationship with Hannah in the process by doing exactly what he said he wouldn’t do for himself, or because of her, or let her do because she loved him, where it all changes when it’s for Dean. So his priorities are clear to him (and to Hannah - though she seemed to always have a fear about said priorities) and would have been to Dean if he could tell the truth.
Anyway then when that is all over he’s left with a choice about what to do with Metatron and decides (probably because he’s already so deep in trouble for stealing him in the first place that he can’t exactly get in worse trouble for borrowing him a bit longer) to do the empowering thing for himself (well at the end of this episode he said it was selfish but it was treat yo self day I’m not letting Cas think that :P) and use him to get his grace back (because that quote about not letting himself die) and he loses Metatron in the process.
So exactly what he didn’t want to risk happening when Hannah wanted to do it happens (and there’s speculation that Metatron wanted him to find the grace because of probably awful reasons) when he tries to do anything for himself / for Dean (getting his grace back does also benefit him helping Dean in the long run), so he’s running at negligible victories anyway…
He heads on home and Sam has to remind him with “you know what to say” eyebrows when Cas turns to him to see if they’re still lying or not, that Dean doesn’t know and now can’t know about anything they did because revealing that they did something behind Dean’s back once will make him suspicious about Sam going behind his back again and Sam’s very busy now going behind Dean’s back to work with Rowena and Cas is trapped in the crossfire of maintaining one lie so Sam can carry on the other…
Not that Cas knows the last part: he thinks Sam burned the book as well. But in that conversation before Charlie and Dean come in Sam seems to be bonding with Cas without his knowledge about them making poor decisions like “Oh well he let Metatron run free, anything I do after this is at least two makes company.”
Cas gets the solidarity and sympathy for his actions without really knowing why so it puts Sam emotionally on his side even more, inspiring Cas to continue the deception, and so to keep himself from even risking Sam at all in this he puts Hannah into the story in Sam’s place… Hannah who Dean was suspicious of and then tried to kill him but then Hannah who Cas spent months working with and though they’ve been low on communication all season (probably because of the ongoing miscommunication) Dean would at least probably know what Cas was doing in that gap of time where he was with Hannah.
And so we’re at a place where Dean thinks Hannah did what she wanted to do in 10x02 (giving this a weird narrative callback to remind us that it was because Hannah had ~feelings~ for Cas and why this is then a terrible thing to say which at least gives us extremely plausible motive for jealous!Dean because of him having feelings too) and from Dean’s sudden dull response and the callback to Hannah wanting to be the one to save Cas, suddenly we have it as “Hannah did this to save Cas because they have ~feelings~ for each other” since Dean doesn’t know it isn’t like that…
And so now Dean thinks Cas has been in a long-term relationship with Hannah possibly since season 9, slight hiccup in 9x22 aside, for all he knows.
But on the plus side:
Jealous!Dean does give us a nice dose of actual Destiel feelings from Dean’s side even if he’s being more than usually green eyed.
The lie taking on romantic coding towards Cas and Hannah goes in direct opposition to the actual story, and so we have the fan fic trope of mistaken “he’s straight and taken” possibly playing out in front of our eyes.
And if Hannah 2.0 is seen again or described to Dean then we get Dean realising that’s who Cas has been in a long-term romantic relationship with. Ehehe.