Tag Archives: controversy

Diversity Drama on Booktube

Booktube is a pretty fun, very inclusive, and welcoming community on YouTube. There usually isn’t any animosity between anyone. But there are times, just like in a small town, that some issue pops up that everyone gets involved in.

The most recent drama that’s occurred started when someone criticised author V. E. Schwab on Twitter because of the lack of diversity in her fantasy novels. She responded by saying sorry, that she’ll do better. I don’t know why she should be sorry. Authors aren’t forced to have racial, gender, or sexual diversity in their books.

But what about booktube? Well, a booktuber went on a rant that made her look like she was completely against diversity, but I don’t think that was what she meant. The general idea of her video was to defend V. E. Schwab. But she had poor focus, and her message came across completely wrong. Indie Insomniac has a good response to her video about this.

So, what do I think about this whole thing? Drama is something I try to stay out of. What I want to say in this blog post is my view on diversity in books.

I welcome diversity. It’s important. I live in a very diverse neighbourhood, so if I were to write a novel about my neighbourhood, it would have a very diverse cast of characters. However, if I were to write a novel that took place in rural Saskatchewan, the characters would most likely be all white. If I were to write a novel that took place in a small village in Japan, it’s almost guaranteed that all characters would be Japanese. In V. E. Schwab’s case, she writes fantasy. I haven’t read any of her books, so I don’t know what the setting is, but if I were to write fantasy, racial diversity in Earth terms wouldn’t even be on my mind.

If I’m writing a fantasy novel that takes place on a continent somewhere that has people with pale skin and blond hair, am I obligated to include African or Asian people? Why? It doesn’t take place on Earth. The people of this location happen to be blond.

This reminds me of when people were complaining about Disney princesses always being white. Why is Rapunzel white? She’s German, that’s why. Why are all the characters in Brave white? It takes place in Scotland at a time when everyone who lived there was white. You can’t demand diversity when it would be historically inaccurate or highly illogical.

I’m all for diversity in novels, but only if it’s appropriate. I celebrate diversity. My own work in progress has a very diverse cast of characters. That’s because it’s how life is in the future. Should I be required to include characters from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds, different sexual orientations, as well as transgendered people? No. Absolutely not. But I do it because that’s what society is like in my writing.

An author shouldn’t be bullied about the kinds of people in their books. They shouldn’t be forced to include certain groups of people in their next book because some people complained. Authors should write the stories they want to read. If it’s good, then others would want to read it, too. Ideally, authors should ignore this, and just write.

In the end, this is what I think: I will not include an African in a book that’s set in Edo period Japan, because they weren’t there. I will not include a blond, blue-eyed Caucasian in a story about 12th century Pacific Islanders, because they weren’t there. I will not include an Asian elf, because elves aren’t human. I will not include a group of Australian Aborigines in an epic Scandinavian historic adventure novel, because they most definitely wouldn’t be there. As for sexual orientation, since gay people have always existed, I could arguably expect them to appear in a good number of novels from any time period or location. Also, gender is an issue. If it’s a period piece, then gender roles would likely be expected. I don’t expect a female knight in a book that takes place in 15th century England. I would expect a female soldier in a book that takes place in the 21st century, though. I could go on.

Don’t include diversity if people say you should, include diversity if it fits the story. That is all.

Handling Rape in Fiction

Someone asked about how to handle rape in a writing group I’m a member of on Facebook. In particular, she was worried about legal issues when portraying a rape victim who happens to be a child. That is a very serious and heavy issue to write about. It was interesting reading the answers by various people.

Some people were outraged and asked her how she could even think about writing about child rape. She clarified that her book was about a woman who had been raped as a child and how she coped with it. It’s meant to also draw attention to the problems of human trafficking and how her government (the UK) was turning a blind eye toward child rape in certain ethnic groups. It is an issue in many places. Someone else pointed out that it’s a big problem in the US, as well, involving children being taken from Mexico into the US.

Other people provided some useful information. Basically, it’s fine to write about it, but don’t describe how it happened. That’s fine, because the author said she was writing about the aftermath, not about the actual event. Some who were rape victims themselves were supportive.

I’ve read books that involve child rape, including George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series. Although it’s a fantasy series, it’s similar to medieval Europe, where it was common for early teens to get married and start having children. It provides a degree of realism, rather than being politically correct.

I have a future fantasy series in which I will have a character who was a victim of rape as a teenager, and it looks at the response of both her family and society as a whole, as well as how she handles the attitude toward her. I don’t take this subject lightly. In my writing, I don’t take anything lightly. Although I am writing for entertainment, I also want to tackle important issues and make people think. I want people to be angry about various issues, or at least take them seriously. The treatment of women and children is a very serious issue, especially as a husband and father of a young child.

Authors often deal with very serious subjects. As an author or reader, how do you feel about rape being addressed in fiction? Not only rape, but also any kind of sexual abuse. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

Watching the Hugo Awards

With all the controversy surrounding this year’s Hugo Awards, I found it interesting to watch the presentation of the awards on Livestream. If you want, you can watch it here.

The highlights were the multiple times they announced no winners due to a revolt against the Sad Puppies, a group of right-wing conservative science fiction authors who managed to nominate a bunch of hard sci-fi written by conservative authors who want nothing to do with female characters, gay and lesbian characters, or a growing international group of writers. Well, their efforts backfired, and several groups weren’t even awarded.

The big thing in these awards was that the winner, The Three Body Problem, by Liu Cixin, is the first translated novel to win the award. It was written by a Chinese author, and it looks pretty interesting.

Oh, and another thing, I loved the Dalek’s last line. Very funny. You have to see it.

What did you think of the awards, winners, and controversy?

Ever Watch the Moon Pass In Front of the Earth? Incredible

I saw this earlier. This animation is from several still images of the moon passing in front of the Earth. The images were taken from the DISCOVR spacecraft about 1.6 million km away from the Earth. It’s a quick video, so it won’t take much of your time.

I don’t think there’s ever been a video or set of images like this before.

Just a note about the moon. You may notice that the leading edge is green. This is not because it’s a photoshopped fake. It’s because they take three images in different colours: red, blue, and green.  The green image just happened to be the last one taken, and the moon had already moved a bit, so that’s why it has a green fringe on the leading edge. There’s an argument on Facebook about this, and some people are claiming it’s a conspiracy. Those people just don’t understand how images are made from spacecraft. They don’t just take a colour photo, they take three monochrome photos at three different wavelengths that correspond to red, blue, and green. Then they combine the images to give a true colour image. Since there is a thirty second delay between the three images, this green offset is the result.

Anyway, incredible set of images!

Writing Controversial Characters

Today, I did some work on Journey to Ariadne part six, and it’s mainly about a rather prominent character I’m introducing. She is somewhat controversial. She’s not just loud and opinionated, but she’s also not afraid to tell people they’re morally bankrupt. You see, this part of the story involves religion. But not just any religion, one that developed as an offshoot of Christianity in the late 21st century. One that becomes very controversial.

As I wrote it, I wondered if I’ve gone too far or if it’s too mild. I’ll see how it goes when it’s critiqued. I’m looking forward to that.

Just so you know, the religion doesn’t exist, but is a kind of extremely fundamentalist Christianity. It won’t play a major part in the story, but is important in establishing the character’s background.

So, who is interested in it?

Authors Answer 32 – Controversy

Controversy. Adding just a little can make a story quite provocative. Some people will demand the books be removed from the library, others will love it. There are so many controversial subjects that could offend someone. But who will write about controversial subjects? Some authors would rather avoid that.

320px-Modern-ftn-pen-cursiveQuestion 32: Do you write about any controversial topics?

S. R. Carrillo

I like to think the topics I write about aren’t very controversial, but honestly they prolly are (hm, let’s see – sex, violence, queer stuff, antiheroes, drug abuse, twisted families, incest, etc.). Like, my friggin debut novel is about a gay angel and the lost little demon who always wants to eat him. Can’t say I have any regrets, though – the weirder, the wronger, the more I fall in love with the story. Mwahah.

Tracey Lynn Tobin

Honestly? I try to avoid controversial stuff, unless I feel very confident that I understand both sides of the concept and am able to represent it without appearing to be biased or hateful. For example, in my zombie novel, “Nowhere to Hide”, the concept of religion comes up a couple of times as characters deal with the idea of it being the end of the world. Normally I avoid talking about religion and my own personal beliefs, but since I’m an atheist from a Catholic family I felt that I could accurately portray both sides of that fence without making either character seem like a horrible person for their beliefs (or lack thereof).

I have been known to write about things that create an emotional response in others, however, and I think that doing so as a writer is pretty much unavoidable. No matter what you write about, it will make someone angry, so the key really is to just get used to that fact and learn how to deal with it calmly and with a good attitude.

Paul B. Spence

Sometimes. I suppose that depends on how you define controversial topics. I have gay and lesbian characters. I’ve dealt with slavery. The nature of freedom and choice. The nature of evil. Cloning. The rights of clones. Gender equality. Species equality. The necessity of war. Life after death, and the soul. And yes, all in one story.

Linda G. Hill

I don’t think my topics – the less than … happy ones should I say? are as much controversial as they are twisted. I love horror – grew up on Stephen King – so I take much of my inspiration from him. Having said that, it still all comes from inside me. I can’t even begin to understand it.

Jean Davis

That’s hard to say since I don’t find many things controversial. A Broken Race features characters with genetic defects and other various syndromes and disorders. I did my best to portray them well. Sahmara‘s main character is bisexual. I suppose that might be controversial for some.

H. Anthe Davis

I don’t specifically try to write about controversial topics, but I’ve found that my characters have strong opinions on certain matters, and backstories (and sometimes continuing stories) that touch on current issues that may be considered controversial.  I have characters everywhere on the sexuality and gender spectrum, and countries with varying opinions on the expression of such, as well as a lot of religious conflict — which is ramping up the further into the series I get, since one of the main faiths is deeply misogynist, one is strongly female-oriented, and another is a combination of mild misandrist and ascetic to the point of ritual self-mutilation.  ….So in short, yes.

Elizabeth Rhodes

Religion fascinates me, at least on an intellectual level as I’m not personally religious at all.  You’ll see it in my Jasper series, and some other stories I’ve worked on feature it in some form.  Class structures and economics are other topics I gravitate towards, mostly because I feel the heat of it myself.  It features prominently in a short story I’m working on called Deferment, about a woman taking action against her student loan provider and the consequences she faces as a result.  The fantasy series I have brewing in my head also deals with class structure.

D. T. Nova

What topics count as “controversial” is itself something that people don’t agree on, but the answer is yes. While a short summary of it might not mention it, teen sex and attitudes toward it are fairly important in my novel in progress.

The negative aspects of organized religion come up a few times as well, thought actually maybe not as often as you’d expect from the villains’ motivations.

Caren Rich

Not on purpose. I generally write about people in the South. Some of my characters are Christian, and that has ruffled a few feathers in critique groups. The books are not what I would label as “Christian Fiction”, but my characters go to church, pray, and mention God in a positive light. The characters are not perfect. There’s  adultery, murder, a little heavy petting (nothing graphic), among other things. My goal was to present real people struggling to be Christian in an increasingly difficult world. The novella, deals with a small town being forced to take down or move their Nativity scene.  I expect that one to cause a ripple or two.

Gregory S. Close

I’m not setting out to offend anyone with Greyspace, but the story is based on the concept that things in the religious domain (demons, devils, gods, angels etc.) are all real, but not necessarily real in the way that they are described by religion. I’m sure this will rub some people the wrong way.

I’m purposefully approaching it from a standpoint that all religions and folklore are based on primitive understandings of extra-planar beings, and that one religion is not intrinsically more “right” than any other.  So I expect some flak from those who do not like their own modern and accepted religion (Christianity, Judaism, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist) on equal footing with mythological religions like the Norse, Greek/Roman or Native American theologies.  Not to mention that I’ll be throwing in faeries and the Tuatha Dé Danann into the mix.

While I’m not going to have Jesus in fisticuffs with Zeus or Thor throwing down with Buddha, I do worry that the premise alone will be problematic for some people.  No doubt that I’ll treat someone’s favorite demon or angel in a way that they don’t like (let alone their deity).  I’ve toyed with adding a Forward to the book, with an author’s disclaimer to remind people that I’m just trying to write a fun story, not a metaphysical treatise, but if it’s going to offend someone, I doubt that a Forward will salve the wound anyway.

Eric Wood

The only story I have written that I would consider “controversial” is about a woman in an abusive relationship. However, part of me doesn’t think it’s controversial as much as it is troubling. Unfortunately, the female character didn’t survive in my story (though, neither did the male antagonist). However, my story isn’t too far from some ugly and unfortunate truths out there.

Allen Tiffany

I don’t set out to do so. At least not with my fiction. As a columnist for a newspaper at a large campus, I certainly poked a few people in the eye. That was always fun. But with my fiction, if there is something someone finds controversial, so be it. I’m just telling a story.

Jay Dee Archer

Funny that this is asked now, because I’m currently working on a part of Journey to Ariadne that deals with religion and fundamentalism. I don’t think it’s too controversial, though. However, in the Ariadne series, I will include religion, genetically modified organisms (particularly food), slavery, discrimination, and experimentation on an intelligent species. Although becoming less controversial, I will include gay and lesbian characters, including those that are married and have children. There’s nothing saying a couple women or a couple men can have a child using their sperm or eggs, right?

In a fantasy series I have under development, rape, war, reincarnation, and polytheism.

So, I’m not against using controversial topics. I don’t go out of my way just to include them, though. If it fits the story, then it’s fine. I look forward to the hate mail.

How about you?

What do you think of controversial topics in novels? Is there anything you’d refuse to read? Is there something that would offend you? What would you read? Let us know in the comments below.

My Stance on Three “Controversial” Topics

Controversial is in quotes, because it’s not actually controversial in the scientific community.  It’s only really controversial amongst fringe groups, the religious, and those who really have no clue about the scientific method.

Climate change exists.  There is overwhelming evidence for it.

Evolution happened.  It’s still happening.  We’ve seen it happen.  It’s not “just a theory,” it’s a scientific theory that explains the fact of evolution.

Vaccinations work.  They are important.  I can’t stand the anti-vaccination movement.  You’re clinging to “research” done by a discredited doctor who did no real scientific research into the supposed link between vaccines and autism.  All subsequent research has shown there is no link.

And that is my stance on these three issues.