[LMB] OT: Yankee in Space

Peter Hews Peterhews at protonmail.com
Fri Oct 29 20:11:05 BST 2021


On Monday, October 25th, 2021 at 22:40, Matthew George <matt.msg at gmail.com> wrote:

>
> 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.

And vice versa.  I wrote a novel once where the heroine's nasty ex, a faily minor character who only appeared twice, acted like a racist black stereotype - street slang, deals drugs, carries a knife - but since he was a minor character, I never got around to giving him a description.  I reckoned that if people pictured him as black, that was their racism, not mine.
>
>
> 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.

In the Deep Space 9 episode where Cisco and co. are 1950s science fiction writers (I love the ones where the actors get to take a break by playing someone completely different,) that was the obvious hole in the plot about him getting into trouble for making his "Captain Cisco" black.  Because on the screen you see a character's colour in every shot, but in a story you only know when the author tells you.  Realistically, what the editor would have told Cisco was that if it mattered so much to him, mention it so casually that nobody noticed.

Peter Hews

Oh better far to live and die under the brave black flag I fly,
Than play a sanctimonious part with a pirate head and a pirate heart.



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