Monday, October 6, 2014

Beyond Black and Ability: Twinja Book Reviews Top Ten List of Black Main Characters with Disabilities in Speculative Fiction #BSFM

So we're revealing some pretty cool lists of novels(which will include full length, novellas, short stories in anthologies, and the like) and the more we immerse ourselves in diversity, the more we actually learn about it.

Just with this blog alone, we've learned just how important intersectionality is, so like our list featuring books with Black Queer main characters in spec fic, this one is especially important.

Disability is often the MOST neglected marginalization. Too many people are afraid of addressing disability, and it's often why many attempts at inclusion end up problematic.

Characters with disabilities are especially important to children. Children of color dont often have proper representation, so imagine being a child of color AND having a disability.

Highlighting disability has become so important to us, we planned to host an event next year called "Beyond Ability", featuring a full month of authors, characters in books, or other media, and bloggers addressing what we all could be doing better to make sure disability in books is well researched, and well represented.

Since it's Black Speculative Fiction, we're highlighting Black characters in books specifically, but it'll be just a small preview of what that month will be like.Disability ranges from mental, to emotional, to physical, so it's also important to highlight the diversity between disabilities as well. I wish we could only highlight Black authors for these lists, but there just simply arent enough people addressing disability with characters of color in general, so we have to take what we can get.

Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor
This is why it's important to educate yourself about diversity. I had absolutely no idea Albanism was a disability until a few years ago. In Nnedi's "Akata Witch" her main protagonist is an American born Nigerian 12 year old, who's also a witch.

Bleeding Violet by Dia Reeves
In this Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance, the main character, a biracial teen, suffers from bipolar disorder. Oh yeah, and there's crazy doors where crazy things come out of! Beware!

King's Mark by Stephanie Herman
In this fantasy book, not only does the main character have natural hair, but she also loses her sight. This comes at a surprise to her, considering she's been pretending to be blind for years.

Bone and Jewel Creatures by Elizabeth Bear
I think I love this cover the most of all of all the books! In this steampunk adventure, one of the main characters has an amputated arm, and what I am to interpret as a chronic illness?

Blood Child and Other Short Stories by Octavia E. Butler
Can you ever create a list depicting Black characters in speculative fiction without mentioning the "Grand Dame of Science Fiction?" Her the dystopian short story "Speech Sound", many of the world's inhabitants have suffered a plague that affects the brain, and the ability of speech. Sign language is the official language now. I interpret this as a form of mutism.

Otherbound by Corrine Duyvis
Since half the story is told in a fictional world, Im not 100% sure what one of her main character is racially. To me she looks black, or atleast mixed race(with some type of African diaspora). Her tongue was severed, so she is also a character with mutism, and she also uses sign language to communicate.

Liar by Justine Larbalestier
Now in this paranormal-thriller, the main character, a mixed race pan-sexual teenager, just happens to be a werewolf. Or is she? She happens to be a pathological liar, which I believe border emotional/mental illness. I've even read one theory that her identity as a werewolf is a metaphor for her mental illness. It's definitely a mind f*ck.

Sister Mine by Nalo Hopkinson
One of the things I really like about Nalo Hopkinson, is her writing leaves so little to chance. She creates black characters beyond their race, sexual identity and disability, but she also acknowledges all three as well. Sister Mine features formerly conjoined twins, which leaves one twin with a permanent limp. Black twins? Why am I just hearing about this???

Choas by Nalo Hopkinson
This Speculative Fiction title not only feature multiple queer characters, but multiple characters with disabilities, including one bound to a wheelchair. I dont believe the character on the book is disabled, but many of the major characters are.

Fledgling by Octavia E. Butler
Like Nalo, Octavia just cant help to make multiple lists, with multiple choices to choose from. In Octavia's "Fledgling", her main character(whom is a black vampire) has amnesia. Not all disabilities are visible.

Extra,extra! Just for the hell of it, we think we'll add just one more book, just to be greedy!

Ascension(Tangled Axon) by Jacqueline Koyanagi
Like our list of awesome Black and Queer characters, Ascension appears on our list of Black characters with disabilities. In this Space Opera, the main character has a chronic illness.

For comic lovers! While it can more often than not, to highlight disability in Spec Fic and comic books(there are so many tropes to to abuse, here and here.)it can still have some positive affects, especially with children who lack representation the most.

My favorite comic book character who is both Black and disabled is Victor Stone, or better known as Cyborg.

I admit, his backstory on how he became a mechanically enhanced superhero is unsettling. And the use of advanced prosthetic limbs aren't exactly options for people in the real world, but as a comic book character, just the fact that HE EXISTS, is something a black child with a disability can take something positive away from. THEY EXIST.

Did we miss anyone? Let us know on Twitter! We're @dos_twinjas, or leave a comment! Let us know who we missed!


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