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”?
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.
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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.
“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.”
- The Human Right to Water at Standing Rock
- Rezpect Our Water
- How economics are driving the Dakota Access Pipeline
- 30 Years of Oil and Gas Pipeline Accidents, Mapped
- This is Why the Flint Water Crisis Is Still Ongoing
- Michigan battles order to deliver bottled water to Flint residents
- Canada’s Waterless Communities: Neskantaga
- Drinking Water Advisories in First Nations Communities
- Don’t approve Kinder Morgan pipeline, B.C. First Nation tells Trudeau
- ‘Polish your protest boots,’ TD says as details of water report emerges
- Don’t Drink the Water
- Tulsi Gabbard Is Not Who You Think She Is
- Tsai calls Trump, World Commentariat IQ drops 50 points
- What’s Happening in Aleppo
- Trump’s Taiwan phone call preceded by hotel development inquiry
- How were 1.5 billion acres of land so rapidly stolen?
- The myth of the Rust Belt revolt
- Liberal Anti-Politics
- The Miscarriage Penalty
- A Dakota pipeline’s last stand
- Political correctness: how the right invented a phantom enemy
- Hundreds of students report bullying, threats, and attacks in weeks after the election
- Divesting from whiteness: the university in the age of Trumpism
- Seeking students, many public colleges are reducing out-of-state tuition
- “With state funding reductions and increasing competition for top students, colleges are more motivated than ever…to maintain their reputations.”
- Trump’s pick for education secretary says reform can “advance God’s kingdom”
- Teens against fascism
- Finding hope in a loveless place
- Fidel Castro (1926-2016)
- “Those of us who grew up in the United States as the children of exile, marked by Fidel, have had to reckon suddenly and finally with his absence.”
- Listening to Trump in order to counter him
- Defending immigrant workers from Trump
- The long history of respectable-looking white supremacists
- Opinion: Now is the time to unionize the game industry
- Voicing A ‘Final Fantasy XV’ Character Is A Strange Journey
- Parsing Nolan North’s Vague Comments About The Voice Actor Strike
- SAG-AFTRA Strike Negotiations and the December 1st Deadline
- Nolan North has strong words for striking voice actors
- An Oral History of Azeroth’s Most Influential Guild
- The Highs and Lows of Moderating a Porn MMO
- What ‘Watch Dogs 2’ Gets So Right, and So Wrong, About Race
- Our Backyard: Disasters Waiting to Happen