[LMB] OT: Yankee in Space

Matthew George matt.msg at gmail.com
Mon Oct 25 21:42:08 BST 2021


Ursula K. Le Guin was repeatedly outraged by cover artists who depicted the
characters in "A Wizard of Earthsea" as Western European Caucasians.  She
received many letters from people belonging to various ethnic minorities
who thanked her for creating characters who looked something like them, but
many people simply assumed that Earthsea was composed of the same sorts of
faces they saw staring back at them from all the rest of the fantasy covers.

Even when writers go out of their way to avoid the cliches, people don't
notice unless they're paying close attention.  If you throw in someone who
isn't a WASP, but then have them act just like the stereotypical dominant
1950s protagonist, hardly anyone is going to notice.

It's almost as bad as deciding that a major character is gay, but not
mentioning or even suggesting it until long after the books are published
and the character has been killed off *cough* *Rowling* *cough*.

Isn't the protagonist of Heinlein's "Tunnel in the Sky" black?  And isn't
that only actually established at the end of the book, which avoids putting
people off but also prevents them from correctly picturing the protagonist?

You can't play it safe and take risks at the same time.

Matt G.

On Sun, Oct 24, 2021 at 11:59 AM Louann Miller <domelouann at gmail.com> wrote:

> On Sun, Oct 24, 2021 at 10:18 AM WalterStuartBushell <proto at panix.com>
> wrote:
>
> >
> > What about “Sir Isaac Newton” et. al. from _Between Planets_,Valentine
> > Michael
> > Smith (and the Martians in several cases) and the _Star Beast_ and Mr.
> > Kiku?
> >
> > Compared to these the differences among human groups are as nothing.
> >
>
> There's a considerable amount of comedy relief with Heinlein's nonhuman
> aliens, especially in the juveniles.  Valentine Michael, I grant you. That
> may be the primary example in his work of the reader being asked to
> identify with a main character who doesn't take the same things for granted
> that the reader does.
> --
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