I Challenge You to Stop Reading White, Straight, Cis Male Authors for One Year

In which I link to an article which suggests doing something I’m almost certainly not going to do. :smile:

Found via Neil Gaiman. Probably skip the comments, I’d suggest.

Although I don’t think it’s a bad idea and I am trying to diversify my reading somewhat (right now - Wolf Hall - as rejected by our book club :)). I did read Octavia Butler’s Kindred recently, which surprised me, because I didn’t bother looking up what it was about, went straight by the recommendation here (by @milliefink?), and expected SF, which it wasn’t. But it was worth reading, and I will try more of her stuff.


Oh, you’ve figured out the time travel thing then? Do share with the rest of us; I’ve got some financial choices I’d like to undo in the past. :wink:


Hmm…a website that is completely blank if you have scripting off. Pass. (Probably not a security risk, but my interest isn’t exceeded by my annoyance at this.)

I read a lot of indy authors without any idea who they are or whether they are straight, male or “cis”. I only care if I like the stories. This challenge has no appeal to me.


Is Micromegas Science Fiction? Is A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court?

There’s no effort to present a mechanism for the time travel, that I think an SF novel would require - it’s just a technique to facilitate a modern narrator to observe the past. I think Butler even said it wasn’t an SF novel. But that could be an interesting discussion. What about Slaughterhouse-Five, or The Man in the High Castle?

Or Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series…

I agree that time travel doesn’t make a fictional work “science” fiction - it is how the author chooses to explain the time travel, if at all.

Except that it could be science fiction at another level, such as exploring the interaction between languages, without ever explaining the time travel, ftl space travel, or whatever other technologies it involves.

I recall one Harry Turtledove story, inspired by the (false) idea that the natives of the Americas never developed the wheel, which explored the idea that we had never developed the antigravity and ftl travel technologies which many other societies took for granted. I remember he had conquistadors with armor and arquebuses try to take contemporary New York City and fail. No, this wasn’t the one with the Lizards.

Great questions!

Of the ones I’ve read there, yes, I’d say that the Twain and the Vonnegut fit into the SF niche for me - at least, when I was an adolescent/young adult and pretty much didn’t want to read any fiction that wasn’t SF/F, I found both of them very enjoyable and satisfying. And just reading a quick Wikipedia summary of the Dick, it’s got colonies on the moon, Mars, and Venus, so I think it counts. :slight_smile:

Death of the Author?

I think reading stories from different perspectives can help us see things from different perspectives, and deliberately trying to catch up on less-often-represented perspectives can help. Perspectives. Stereoscopy?

I think reading stories about trans people, when I was younger, would have helped me understand and accept myself, when I was younger, and I don’t yet trust cis people to tell those stories. Representation.


currently reading “this changes everything” by naomi klein, recently finished “play it as it lays” by joan didion, and i’ve got “the deepening darkness” by carol gilligan on the rotation for next book. that’s just a fluke though, i read too many books to put excessive thought into the gender of the authors. besides i got a copy of “the savage detectives” by robert bolano for christmas and i’ve been clearing my previous commitments so i can read it. i do think it matters but i keep up a varied diet of books from a wide mix of authors of many genders and nationalities so i don’t fear complacency.

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Glad you found it worthwhile! Bloodchild is good too, and more SF.


I don’t think I can meet this challenge, nor would I really want to. I already read a not of non-white, straight, cis male authors, and anyway, many of those dominant guys are great too. But yeah, as in Hollywood, so little diversity in publishing, at least in terms of what gets much attention. R Gay’s Untamed State was pretty good (and then it reminded me of All the Birds Singing when i read that, and thought it was better). Diaz’s This Is How You Lose Her was great, and so was Sherman Alexie’s Face and Percival Everett’s Erasure and Ruth Ozeki’s My Year of Meats. But then, why not read something like Daniel Woodrell’s Winter’s Bone, wonderful stuff, just because he’s a white guy? I’m not gonna completely swear off the white straight guys, but yeah, I do wish more books by other kinds of authors got read more often.


Trying to shove good SciFi into categories of who the author is? The greats (Isaac Asimov, Arthur Clark, Robert Heinlein, Frank Herbert, Ray Bradbury, Douglas Adams (I know, fluff, but still), Orson Scott Card (gay here, the greatness of his novels have nothing to do with his mormonism or his severe hatred against gays - the Ender series are a work of art), etc… Would be rolling over in their graves.

Great science fiction expands the mind of the readers… It does not shut down the mind. As does putting authors into categories of “cis”, straight, male, white, etc.

This does enormous damage to the genre. Don’t we have enough trouble with the evangelical christians against science and against science fiction?

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I challenge you to finish the Quarry at this slow pace.


I’m attempting to do the challenge laid down here: http://burns-familyblog.blogspot.com/2014/12/26-books-in-2015.html

But I’ve put the extra requirement that they all be books by women. So far, I’m only on #4, but so far I’ve read:

  • Shards of Honor, Lois McMaster Bujold (Own but haven’t read)
  • The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood (Book made into a movie)
  • The Etched City, K. J. Bishop (Chosen based on cover)

Currently in progress (took a while to find a book any of my friends liked that wasn’t a romance novel or written by men): The Outsiders, S.E. Hinton


I finished that weeks ago. The Quarry is over. Dunzo. Finito.

Not denying the quality of those writers - speaking as someone who grew up on Asimov and Clarke, and adore Douglas Adams’ writing (okay, I haven’t read any Card, and don’t intend to at least until after he’s dead, and not much Heinlein) - but the point is that those are all old, straight, American (naturalized at least) or British white guys, almost all of their books were written a long time ago, and that it would be no bad thing to actively seek out some other more modern, more diverse writing in addition to their work.


I am reading at the slow pace to keep the surprise alive!

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So people in minority categories should just shut the hell up when those in the dominant (and actually, dominating) norms get most attention, awards, publicity, publication opportunities and so on?

No, I don’t think so. Not anymore. That all happens for a reason, and the reason, ultimately, is power. Even when those in power don’t realize that they’re in power. Fortunately, such power can be resisted.


Of course Slaughterhouse-Five is SF, there’s aliens in it.

Anyway, haven’t been doing much reading lately, but the book I’m currently (and really overly slowly) reading is The Blind Assassin by Margret Atwood.


Is ‘The Blind Assassin’ SF too? It’s definitely got aliens in it.

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Some nice light reading!

(and is that SF? I guess the book within the book within the book is…?)