Tag Archives: sci-fi

Interview: Fabio Fernandes on We See A Different Frontier Project [Culturelicious]

By Guest Contributor Jaymee Goh, cross-posted from Silver Goggles

Courtesy The Future Fire

Earlier this month, I posted about The Future Fire’s PeerBackers project, We See A Different Frontier, an anthology that seeks to address a large hole in SFF: the voices of people from formerly colonized regions. So I caught up with Fabio Fernandes to talk about this project.

Fernandes, as you may or may not know, is a Brazilian SFF writer who makes a living as a professor of Creative Writing and translator at a university in São Paulo. I follow him on Twitter, and he blogs at The Cogsmith.

JG: How did the anthology idea come about?

FF: I had been thinking of editing an anthology of Latin American stories for a while now. By the end of 2009, Ann and Jeff VanderMeer invited me to be assistant editor for Latin America in their awesome Best American Fantasy collection. Unfortunately, the BAF ended in 2010, just before the volume four, which would have been my debut. In 2011, however, I started thinking that I could at the very least try to edit an anthology of Brazilian science fiction in English to make it available to the English-speaking public. I managed to get a few stories, but most of the authors couldn’t translate them neither rewriter them in English, and I was too busy to do it all by myself. Then I saw an ad in the Outer Alliance list published by Djibril al-Ayad, creator and editor of The Future Fire, asking for guest editors for two special issues. I saw that as an opportunity–but this time not only for Brazil or Latin America. I thought I could shout out louder. So I drafted a project about colonialism and sent it his way. He liked it and here we are now.

JG: What is your vision for it?

FF: I thought of the particular place humanity is in right now. We are still at war in many places around the world, but something is a-changing: the socialist Second World has pretty much ended almost 25 years ago, and the First World and the Third World are, if not changing places, are definitely suffering major alterations in their structure. I think it’s past time we discuss that in our fiction, and what fiction suits best the discussion of the zeitgeist–the spirit of times, our times and the times to come–than science fiction? A few authors are doing it now (Cory Doctorow, Charles Stross, Neal Stephenson, Alastair Reynolds, and Ian McDonald come to mind–but guess what? All male Anglos. I want to make clear I have absolutely nothing against them or their works–I love them all, and I find them true trailblazers. I just wanted to see more people from different countries, speaking different languages, from different ethnicities, genders, writing about the same issues. Or similar issues from their own POVs.

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The Walking Dead And The Real Diversity Problem On (Some) Ambitious Dramas

By Guest Contributor Aymar Jean Christian, cross-posted from Televisual

It’s an old and uninteresting complaint: black characters on TV–and horror movies–get killed or written off too early. Clearly, that is what’s been happening on The Walking Dead with T-Dog. (UPDATE: The arrival of a new character signals a possible shift in season three.).

I’m going to try to push the debate further, past “isn’t it a shame characters of color get short shrift.” The truth is the T-Dog Problem signals broader problems with The Walking Dead and some other prominent dramas. It’s a symptom of an ailment the writers might actually care to remedy, beyond appeasing black viewers.

First, the basics. Earlier this season T-Dog told Dale he was concerned about being black and a weak link in the group. This was an insightful moment from the writers, foregrounding the idea that being different after the apocalypse might be a problem–after all, in times of stress, people stick to their own–and an interesting meta-commentary on the fragility of being a black character on TV. T-Dog was a great candidate for a quick kill. Then T-Dog disappeared. I literally forgot all about him until last week, when he had one line that was almost comically interrupted. This week T-Dog was similarly marginalized, leading Vulture‘s recapper to state: “By this point, the casual dismissal of one of two minority characters…on this show is feeling extremely suspect. The only thing saving it from being full-on offensive is that the same treatment is being given to Hershel’s entire white family.”

The problem isn’t only about a tired debate over representation.

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Web Shows Trek Past Sci-Fi’s Color Line

By Guest Contributor Aymar Jean Christian, cross-posted from Televisual

From Blacula to Sleep Dealer, filmmakers of color have always been interested in science fiction and fantasy. But these days in Hollywood, sci-fi/fantasy films demand big budgets, and it seems like only Will Smith and Denzel Washington are powerful enough to greenlight a genre film starring an actor of color. The rare project that pushes boundaries can often go unnoticed: stellar alien invasion flick Attack the Block won over critics but couldn’t find an audience here in the States (please see it!).

Of course, on the web, things are different. While most web series are comedies and soaps, a number of creators are bucking conventional wisdom and creating stories for the black, latino and Asian sci-fi fans.

Last month, Al Thompson’s Odessa won big at the New York Television Festival — a development deal with SyFy — and released a well-financed drama, Osiris. Odessa follows the story of a father and daughter with super powers running from the bad guys whose experiments created their abilities; Osiris follows a man who is immortal.

While those two series are among the more sophisticated series to hit the web, I’ve been noticing a string of shows over the past two years looking to break the sci-fi color line. As costs for simple special effects go down, independents can afford to simulate space ships, alien worlds and laser beams. And creators are using low-cost production to diversify the space in numerous ways, adding female leads and blending genres (horror, comedy, thriller, surrealism).

There’s an artistic tradition here. From Samuel Delany to Octavia Butler, sci-fi has long attracted society’s outsiders, who use the imaginative potential of fantasy to create utopian or dystopian worlds and interrogate contemporary culture and politics.

And the audiences are there, enough so that most high profile sci-fi TV shows and films take pains to include at least one character of color. Star Trek (TV and movies) is the classic example, and continues today with shows from Alphas and Falling Skies to Battlestar Galactica and now even Game of Thrones (look out for season two!).

Below I’ve listed what shows I could find in alphabetical order. Please let me know if I’m missing an important or great series out there!

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Streets Afire: The Racialicious Review of Attack The Block

By Guest Contributor Emma Felber

Telling the story of the night aliens came to the hood, Attack the Block juxtaposes homicidal extraterrestrials with gangs of disaffected black and mixed-race teenagers in housing estates in the same way its’ sibling-in-production Shaun of the Dead, pitted zombies against twentysomething white everydudes.

Like Simon Pegg’s Shaun, who seemed to be sleepwalking through life until waking up to find everyone trying to eat his brain, these kids from the block are living a story of alienation and violence when they’re plunged head first into serious bloodshed – with serious aliens. But when it becomes clear there’s a battle to be fought, they’re first out to defend their homes. After all, with fireworks, samurai swords, machetes, baseball bats and daring on hand, they’re equipped for it – and practised. “Walking around expecting to get jumped at any moment?” one quips. “Feels like a normal day in the endz to me, blud.”


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Race + Sci-Fi: ‘Blackstar Warrior’ and the ‘real’ life story of Lando Calrissian

By Arturo R. García

I don’t know about you, but I could get used to seeing Han Solo as an incompetent sidekick.

In the mock (slightly NSFW – skimpy clothing) trailer for “Blackstar Warrior,” we see a “lost” story from the Star Wars universe, where Lando Calrissian gets to shine in a blaxploi-riffic shoot ’em up, even facing down Darth Vader himself.

Lando is one of those characters who became popular despite a relative lack of screen time in George Lucas’ original trilogy; a quick Wiki check shows he’s been remembered well-enough in pop-culture to become a popular point of reference. But a look at the series’ “expanded universe” –  the various books based on the films – shows Calrissian as a much bigger player in a galaxy far, far away. (Sorry, couldn’t resist.)

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A Game Of Inches: The Racialicious Roundtable For Flashforward 1.17

Hosted by Special Correspondent Arturo R. García


So, judging by last week’s responses, the future isn’t bright for this show, is it? Or was it something we said? Gang, what do you think?

jen*: That, or everyone was just thinking, “mmm. Cho.”
Diana: I was disappointed, but maybe this week will be better.
Mahsino: yeaaah. maybe it’s a proportional reflection of the decline in ratings?
Andrea: Mmmmmm. Cho.

In some ways, it’s a pity, as this episode was an example of the writers giving us more of what we’ve been after – a clear-cut story focused on action and possible consequences.
jen*: Um, Yeah! Is it really too much to ask to get this on the regular? Are shows just focused on the season open and then a 4-ep build to the finale? Cuz if that’s the case, I can skip the midseason and take up a craft.
Diana: Jen, it’s not too much to ask. But if you do start crafting, may I suggest knitting. You can throw one of the needles at the tv if you need to and not miss a stitch.
jen*: You know, I always did wanna learn how to knit…
Mahsino: I make and elaborately decorate cupcakes, but I hear knitting is nice too. But yeah, I haven’t even been as into an episode as this one. Continue reading

Dear Joss Whedon: We Found You A Wasp

By Special Correspondent Arturo R. García

As of press time, the majority of the geek world was bracing for a big fat win, in the form of confirmation that Buffy mastermind Joss Whedon would be directing Marvel’s Avengers film adaptation – the culmination of the company’s attempt to create a shared film universe. Both Deadline and Variety have said, basically, that it’s all over but the champagne at this point.

Samuel L. Jackson’s presence as Nick Fury is all but a lock in this film, since he’s been the guy pulling these disparate heroes – Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, and perhaps The Hulk & The Black Widow – together. But given Whedon’s predilection for casting familiar faces, there’s potentially a great opportunity here to cast Dollhouse vet Dichen Lachman as Janet Van Dyne, aka The Wasp, long established in canon as one of the team’s founding members, and had one of the longest relationships in both Marvel Universes with Henry Pym.

I say “both” because in the (alternate) Marvel Ultimate U., Janet is of (vague) Asian descent, and a holder of two doctorates. And the Jackson version of Fury’s character also originated in the Ultimate ‘verse. Though Whedon’s issues with representing Asian culture are well-documented, Lachman’s ability to steal the show on Dollhouse and the relatively neutral nature of the Avengers setting – it’s a military-industrial complex, sure, but at least the decor isn’t refried Geisha – would seem to insulate the character against at least some questionable characterization. Here’s to hoping. And to starting an anti-cancellation petition, just in case.

image courtesy of Rich Lovatt


One more fandom note: I won’t put up any Doctor Who spoilers, since the show will barely start airing in the U.S. this coming weekend, but I will recommend you check out next week’s episode, “The Beast Below,” featuring Sophie Okonedo as Liz Ten. I mean, come on, she rocks a cloak and twin hand-cannons. And she instantly joins the ranks of Characters Who Need Their Own Series Right Now.

image courtesy of Bleeding Cool