Silvia Moreno-Garcia | Why Are People Angry, Says Amazing Stories
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Why Are People Angry, Says Amazing Stories

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Steve Davidson, over at Amazing Stories, has responded to the controversy of a recent blog post about diversity.

I’m honestly surprised at some of the responses this piece has received – it almost seems to have spawned an internet industry…

My take on Felicity’s piece when reviewing it before publication was that the thrust of her argument was that many are “doing diversity” to conform to the trend and be able to tick off another box on the marketing list.

It’s wrong to white wash a book cover. It’s also wrong to inject diversity just for the sake of patting yourself on the back (hence the selfie connection). Genuine diversity, drawn from an honest background, serving the story and giving the reader a chance to learn something new – all to be lauded and encouraged. Black, or brown or yellow or red washing the covers isn’t.

Let’s dissect it:

I’m honestly surprised at some of the responses this piece has received – it almost seems to have spawned an internet industry…

It’s a poorly written piece on a crucial topic. Not surprised it got the response it got.

My take on Felicity’s piece when reviewing it before publication was that the thrust of her argument was that many are “doing diversity” to conform to the trend and be able to tick off another box on the marketing list.

Several folks (including me) recently did a diversity count on Twitter. We discovered the following numbers:

Percentage of women published in major SFWA approved markets for 2013 (as of November):

  • Strange Horizons 73%
  • Clarkesworld Magazine 60%
  • Beneath Ceaseless Skies 44%
  • Lightspeed 43%
  • Asimov’s: 33%
  • Analog: 17%
  • The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction 14%

If we add POCs to the mix:

  • Clarkesworld = 60% women, 25% POC
  • Strange Horizons = 70% women, 40% POC
  • Lightspeed = 43% women, 11% POC

I did a quick count of F&SF and it seemed it had 3.5% of POCs in 2013.

Considering that many publishers (and crucially, legacy markets, the big three) have low levels of female and POC writers, can we say that “many” are ticking off diversity boxes? It would seem that there are a FEW markets with high female and diversity representation going by the brief analysis we did, but I’m sure if we crunched numbers for all the remaining markets it would not be a picture of extreme diversity.

It’s wrong to white wash a book cover. It’s also wrong to inject diversity just for the sake of patting yourself on the back (hence the selfie connection). Genuine diversity, drawn from an honest background, serving the story and giving the reader a chance to learn something new – all to be lauded and encouraged. Black, or brown or yellow or red washing the covers isn’t.

Who gets to determine what is an honest background? Are my stories genuine or fake? If I choose to tackle political issues (in  a previous blog post Felicity Savage said ‘ideology has no place in fiction’) have I done wrong? Does serving the story mean world building and if so, how much is too much? Can we point to some examples/stories that use diversity as a crutch?

Are people really black, brown or red washing covers? Haven’t we had issues because publishers refuse to place POCs on covers? Didn’t we have people upset about the Hunger Games because a female character was played by an African American actress?

I guess Amazing Stories did not ponder any of that.