(Note: Please keep an eye on this as it will change from time to time)
(Edit: I’m looking for books printed late 2007 or at any point in 2008)
(Edit–Disclaimer: This data is not being used for a thesis, book, or anything of that sort. It’s public domain. I’m not selling it or profiting in any way except by gaining knowledge, which will be presented in this blog. I will not accept money and you don’t have to put your name on it if you don’t want to.)
Okay, so the title is a little corny, but it fits in a way. What I’m asking from all of you reviewers out there is to help me with a project for the year: determining social/religious/ethnic biases in SF and F. Edit: It came to my intention that it seems as if I’m implying that SF and F intentionally create these biases, and that is NOT what I’m intended this to mean at all. The bias I am talking about is simply a lack of material dealing with social/religious/ethnic/gender issues. This in no way means that I suggest SF and F writers are racist, sexist, or whatever. Nor is this meant as a fuel for whatever fire might already burning that looks for reasons to discount SF and F as literary forms. Please understand that I don’t intend to point at SF and F in a negative way.
This came up in a conversation with Tobias S. Buckell on his blog and what I’d like to do is really get a wide array of information from all over to cover as much as humanly possible. I want to see what the bias really looks like from a more broad spectrum, rather than the readings on one or two people. There are a lot of reviewers out there and if you can just take no more than a minute of your time for every review to write down some info and save it, then we can make this more of a reality.
What I’m asking is this:
For every book you read in the SF or F genre, take a note of which ethnic, religious, social groups are present within a work in a significant way. What this means is if the main character or a significant character is White, Black, or Asian, then write that down. The same applies to religions and significant social groups (feminists, ACLU types, etc.). They must be significant presences, not just a mention. If there is a strong Catholic presence, say so. If you don’t know what religion is present, but there is one, just say unknown.
Edit: Also, I’d like to address gender too. Mention main characters that are male or female and secondary, but significant characters that are male or female (make them separate to differentiate).
This will allow me to gather as much data as I can on this. I want to see how it all pans out when there are loads of us gathering this info. For a quick look at all the info I think is relevant:
–Author and Title of the book (just so I can differentiate between books so I don’t double up when people read the same thing)
–Genre (so I can differentiate again to put the data in one large chart and two smaller genre specific charts)
–Ethnic presences (White, Black, Asian, whatever)
–Religious presences (Catholic, Muslim, Jewish, Unknown, whatever)
–Any other relevant info you can think of.
–Social presences (Feminists, ACLU types, whatever)
–Gender (For main characters)
–Gender 2 (For secondary, but significant characters)
The result of this, I hope, will be a load of data that will help determine what this bias looks like, to come to an understanding of it. I think after my discussions with Tobias that I have to agree there has to be some level of bias, but I don’t know how bad it is, or at least how prevalent. Edit: Again, this is not to mean that the bias is intentional or created by the writers of this genre.
Will you help me? Do you have questions?
Edit: Here is an example format of how I’d like the info:
Author and Title of the book: The Dead & the Gone (will be printed in 2008)
Genre: Science Fiction
Ethnic presences: Hispanic, White
Religious presences: Catholic
Social presences: None
Gender (main): Male main
Gender 2 (secondary): 2 female secondary and 1 male main
Also, send data either to my email – arconna@(no spam)yahoo.com (remove the no spam)
OR post it here. Either one works fine!