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The Changing Faces of Sci-Fi and Fantasy

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A panel with science fiction and fantasy authors Deji Bryce Olukotun, Maria Dahvana Headley, and Haris Durrani

ON November 3 2016, PEN America hosted science fiction and fantasy authors Deji Bryce Olukotun, Maria Dahvana Headley, and Haris Durrani for a reading and panel. The trio discussed the limits of heroism, the politics of reality-building, and the whitewashing of publishing. The following is a transcript, edited for length, of their conversation.

When PEN approached me to help organize the event, I was in the middle of reading Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Black Panther comic books, which are super popular: they sell out every week. I felt real enthusiasm that a writer of color who was a National Book Award winner and MacArthur Fellow was tackling comic books, but at the same time, I wasn’t thrilled with some of his depictions of African themes and cultures.

Let me explain a little more what I mean. I was excited that Ta-Nehisi Coates, who has been a comic book fan his whole life, is tackling the genre, but I had critiques about his technique–some of the dialogue, some of the writing. I felt the dilemma that a lot of people feel if you are from a marginalized group. A lot of voices, especially black voices aren’t making it on the page with major publishers. Was I going to actually destroy opportunities if I spoke out against his work and said, “Well, I love this part of the story but I don’t like this part”?

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Editors’ Note, Vol. 57: Science/Fiction

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The genre of science fiction might represent our post-truth regime more accurately than either disjointed discipline.

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This is the editorial note to TNI Vol. 57: Science/Fiction. View the full table of contents here.

Subscribe to TNI for $3 and get Science/Fiction (and free access to our archive of back issues) today.

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SCIENCE, any scientist will assure you, is full of facts. But once they leave the paywalled confines of academic journals, these facts circulate like fictions. Politicians, corporations, and social engineers peddle scientific narratives, competing to realize their own visions for world domination. These narratives are the stuff we’re made of–physically, legally, anxiously, and spiritually. We’re limited not just by the shape their visions have taken, but by how little time for leisure their worlds allow. This is time that could be spent imagining ourselves (and our world) as otherwise.

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Deregulated Votes

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“Certification programs are a quality assurance process that ensures manufacturers adhere to certain guidelines regarding design, safety, accuracy, fault tolerance, etc….Voting system regulations are delegated to the state level, and while election tampering remains a crime, certification programs are poorly equipped to catch deliberate design flaws.”

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Sunday Reading

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Queen Arsem-O’Malley:

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Kerim Friedman:

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Reclaim UC:

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Jacob Remes:

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Zack Fair: