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Member's Chat > Series featuring well-written people of color?

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message 1: by kori-renee (new)

kori-renee (mskayrenee) | 10 comments Coming from the very interesting thread regarding series that omit racism/misogyny, someone suggested a thread for series that feature people of color.... namely women.

Do you have any suggestions (besides Octavia E. Butler and Nalo Hopkinson) for stories great women of color?

It's not necessary that the characters are specifically Black, but features under-represented minorities, in general. Similar to the previous post, let's avoid the misogyny/rape/male perspective. Also, let's avoid the stereotypes of the slave/prostitute/criminal element.

It's not an easy task, since the fantasy/sci-fi world treats women of color the same way that the gaming world does women in general-- as invisible. However, I'm sure it's not impossible to find some.


message 2: by MrsJoseph (new)

MrsJoseph | 860 comments I enjoyed Starship Troopers a great deal. The main character is a Hispanic male. I’m still looking for female characters outside of Butler.


message 3: by Phoenixfalls (last edited Mar 21, 2011 12:16PM) (new)

Phoenixfalls | 195 comments Stuff set in our world, and therefore reflecting our racial politics:

So, repeating my rec of Lauren Beukes; she's a (white) South African former journalist, and it looks like both her novels take place in South Africa Zoo City at least has a black female protagonist.

Also repeating my comment about Samuel R. Delany's Neveryon series; though the hero is probably the male protagonist, there is a wonderful female protagonist too, and a fascinatingly feminist creation story. . .

Somebody over there also mentioned Nnedi Okorafor; I haven't read her (yet) but Who Fears Death would certainly fit the bill.

Elizabeth Bear's first Promethean Age duology (Blood and Iron and Whiskey and Water) has several black major characters (it's one of those books where there isn't a single protagonist); Bear was attempting to subvert a lot of the tropes surrounding race, but opinions differ on whether or not she succeeded or simply reinforced them. (Obviously I think she succeeded, or I wouldn't recommend these, but YMMV.)

Stuff set in a made-up world, where the various races don't map onto our world, but where at least one of those races is physically described as not white:

N. K. Jemisin was mentioned in that other thread; her current series has races on a spectrum from brown-skinned & curly-haired to white, and the protagonist is female and dark-skinned. The series she has announced she is writing next is apparently going to be set in an Egypt-analogue.

Ursula K. Le Guin's most famous fantasy novels all have people of color as their main characters; A Wizard of Earthsea was notable for being an early reversal of the "white race = good guys, dark-skinned race = bad guys" trope but does still follow the traditional epic fantasy boy's coming-of-age plot; later books in the series The Tombs of Atuan and Tehanu) have fabulous female main characters. Her most recent series, starting with Gifts, again has a range of races from light-skinned to dark-skinned; the second book (Voices) has a wonderful female protagonist; and the third is very much about slavery, though in that world slavery doesn't map onto racial lines.

Catherynne M. Valente's two-volume The Orphan's Tales (In the Night Garden and In the Cities of Coin and Spice) has a huge cast of fantastic characters, many of whom are people of color and/or women; there's a lot of feminist deconstruction of fairy tale archetypes too.


message 4: by Phoenixfalls (new)

Phoenixfalls | 195 comments Some SF, and for the most part these are just physical descriptions of non-white characters, not extrapolations from our current racial breakdown:

Patricia A. McKillip's Moon-Flash has a dark-skinned female protagonist.

In Elizabeth Bear's Carnival (IIRC) all of the characters are people of color, for a world-building reason that I found cool and terrifying but which would constitute a spoiler. The main characters are a pair of gay men, but the world they visit is a sort of throw-back SF attempt at a female-dominated utopia.

Marion Zimmer Bradley's City of Sorcery (Renunciates, #3) has a black female secondary character; but it's been a lot of years since I read it, so it's possible it's been visited by the racism fairy in the interim. Also, you should probably read the other two Renunciate books first. . . and that world is one of the reasons my unconscious goes to that "redheads are perfect" place. (You know, along with Anne of Green Gables. I'd roll my eyes, but it's entirely ingrained in my psyche now. . .)

I think Story Teller, by Amy Thomson has brown-skinned main characters, but I'm not 100% certain and don't own the book anymore so I can't check.


message 5: by kori-renee (new)

kori-renee (mskayrenee) | 10 comments Phoenixfalls wrote: "Stuff set in our world, and therefore reflecting our racial politics:

So, repeating my rec of Lauren Beukes; she's a (white) South African former journalist, and it looks like both..."


THANK YOU for getting it!


message 6: by Samantha (new)

Samantha | 67 comments Not a series, but Ancient Shores by Jack McDevitt is a wonderful book with a black woman as the main protagonist.

City of Golden Shadow and its sequels (four total) by Tad Williams - at least half of the major characters are people of color, and the person you might consider the lead character (there's a fairly large central cast, but I think her tale's central) is a black woman. I love this series to death and just think its brilliant. There IS a serial killer (of color.. heh) who likes to prey on women, but it's pretty clear he's a psycho and a threat to everyone in general, so I don't see that as a mysogynistic element.


message 7: by Samantha (new)

Samantha | 67 comments Oh! The Oathbound by Mercedes Lackey and its sequels. One of the two lead characters is a dark skinned warrior woman. :) The downside is there is a rape scene in one of the books but its not an ongoing theme by any stretch of the imagination, and the character is a good one and very strong. So take that as you will.


message 8: by kori-renee (new)

kori-renee (mskayrenee) | 10 comments Samantha wrote: "Oh! The Oathbound by Mercedes Lackey and its sequels. One of the two lead characters is a dark skinned warrior woman. :) The downside is there is a rape scene in one of the books but ..."

Awesome. Thanks!


message 9: by MrsJoseph (new)

MrsJoseph | 860 comments Wow, great recommendations!


message 10: by [deleted user] (new)

Anyone read anything by Aliette de Bodard? Her website says she's Vietnames/French and a couple of her short stories feature female/aztec-ish characters so I'm wondering if her novels are similar.


message 11: by Johnny (new)

Johnny Flora (JohnnyFlora) Cemetary Road by Anthony Gar Haywood. Excellent Afro American novelist picks the reader up and places them in the middle of a tangled tale of Mystery, murder, and L.A. mayhem. I loved it


message 12: by [deleted user] (new)

Just to throw this out there, since I just read it, Midnight Riot(aka Rivers of London) and Moon Over Soho feature a Black male lead. It's UF, has some humour, and are quick reads.


message 13: by Karen (new)

Karen Wyle (kawyle) Elizabeth Moon's Once a Hero has a wonderful strong female character, Esmay Suiza, who doesn't initially realize how strong and competent she is. I believe there are subsequent books featuring Esmay as well.


message 14: by MrsJoseph (new)

MrsJoseph | 860 comments Ala wrote: "Just to throw this out there, since I just read it, Midnight Riot(aka Rivers of London) and Moon Over Soho feature a Black male lead. It's UF, has some humour, and are..."

aka? It has a different UK title? I hate it when they do that...


message 15: by Carol. (new)

Carol.  | 195 comments Marion Zimmer Bradley's Renunciate series also has a very full exploration of female relationships, including a very significant lesbian/bisexual one.


message 16: by [deleted user] (new)

MrsJoseph wrote: "aka? It has a different UK title? I hate it when they do that..."

Yeah. They changed it to 'Midnight Riot' here in the states. It's stupid and the name doesn't even make sense.


message 17: by MrsJoseph (new)

MrsJoseph | 860 comments I forgot to mention L.A. Banks. She has a 12-13 book (I'm not sure which) UF series called the Vampire Huntress series. It has some good moments and some bad moments but the primary characters are a black female and a hispanic male. The rest of the cast are of all races. It starts with Minion. My favorite one in the series is The Bitten.

She also has other series that I haven't read yet.


message 18: by [deleted user] (last edited Mar 22, 2011 08:08PM) (new)

Ala wrote: "MrsJoseph wrote: "aka? It has a different UK title? I hate it when they do that..."

Yeah. They changed it to 'Midnight Riot' here in the states. It's stupid and the name doesn't even make sense."


I second the recommendations for Midnight Riot/Rivers of London and Moon Over Soho; the books are good fun.

Regarding Midnight Riot not making sense as a name, it actually does when you consider the ending of the book (though it didn't occur to me right away). Still, Rivers of London is a far superior title, as is the cover if you physically get ahold of one. The amount of detail put into it that doesn't show in cover pictures is astounding and also fascinating reading.


message 19: by [deleted user] (new)

bookstothesky wrote: "Regarding Midnight Riot not making sense as a name, it actually does when you consider the ending of the book (though it didn't occur to me right away)"

...


well sonuva...


I still like Rivers of London better.


message 20: by Kerry (last edited Mar 22, 2011 08:15PM) (new)

Kerry (rocalisa) | 59 comments Speaking of Midnight Riot and Moon over Soho, I saw an interesting post regarding the protagonist on the cover yesterday.

http://nethspace.blogspot.com/2011/03/another-white-washed-cover.html

I was very disappointed to see the cover being changed, as I liked Peter on the cover as he originally was. I thought it portrayed him well and matched the character I met in the book. As I have the ebooks, I haven't seen the paper editions myself.


message 21: by [deleted user] (new)

The first strong black female character that came to mind was the martial artist in books 2 & 3 of Steve Perry's Matador series (the character's name escapes me, unfortunately). Not exactly "literature," but pretty good action, especially if you like your SF with martial arts mixed in (which is Steve Perry's forte).


message 22: by MrsJoseph (new)

MrsJoseph | 860 comments Kerry wrote: "Speaking of Midnight Riot and Moon over Soho, I saw an interesting post regarding the protagonist on the cover yesterday.

http://nethspace.blogspot.com/2011/03...

I w..."



Gosh, how annoying.

Is the UK cover still the original? And how can I get a copy of the UK version?


message 23: by [deleted user] (new)

My copy of Midnight Riot is an ARC and doesn't even have an image for the cover. But my copy of Moon Over Soho is the silhouette only.

I don't know why they'd do that, as it actually makes the cover worse. Are they trying to hide the ethnicity of the main character? Is it a marketing ploy?

Weird.

Though I prefer the UK covers anyway.


message 24: by Samantha (last edited Mar 22, 2011 08:36PM) (new)

Samantha | 67 comments Kerry wrote: "Speaking of Midnight Riot and Moon over Soho, I saw an interesting post regarding the protagonist on the cover yesterday.

http://nethspace.blogspot.com/2011/03...

I w..."


Huh. Fascinating and disturbing. On a more or less similar note, I recall a kerfluffle that occurred when a YA novel with a black protagonist was published.. with a white girl depicted on the cover.

Here's the author's thoughts (regarding my anecdote above):
http://justinelarbalestier.com/blog/2...

*edited to remove "chick". I use the term all the time, but figured in a post with a feminist bent, it's kinda inappropriate.. :P*


message 25: by MrsJoseph (new)

MrsJoseph | 860 comments Wow. Thanks for the link Samantha. That just makes me sad. Liar isn't in my genre but I'm thinkin of picking up a copy just to support the author.


message 26: by Samantha (new)

Samantha | 67 comments Ooh, just to update my prior post, looks like the publisher did eventually change the cover to depict a black girl/woman. That's good.

Sometimes you gotta get some outrage on to get things done. :)


message 27: by MrsJoseph (new)

MrsJoseph | 860 comments MrsJoseph wrote: "Wow. Thanks for the link Samantha. That just makes me sad. Liar isn't in my genre but I'm thinkin of picking up a copy just to support the author."

Just checked Amazon and the reviews are all over the place...but the price is under $7 for a hb so that makes it a little more possible...maybe for a cousin?


message 28: by Samantha (new)

Samantha | 67 comments Hmm, with the fair amount of publicity it had at the time it should have sold better to merit a higher price than that for HC. I hope that doesn't suggest it's.. not so good. (regardless, the author drew attention to a very valid issue, and for that I'm personally grateful).


message 29: by [deleted user] (new)

Interesting. I didn't notice it for book 1, but I remember noticing the silhouette on book 2 and thinking how convenient it was to use the ball of fire gimmick to mask the fact that the character's black. However, I did not realize that the covers had been changed, even though I'm sure I saw the originals posted on the author's old blog (or, possibly, at the Dribble of Ink website). Sad.


message 30: by Kerry (new)

Kerry (rocalisa) | 59 comments With regards to Liar, I've heard lots of good things about it.

I've chosen not to read it myself because unreliable narrators drive me absolutely batty and this seems to be an extremely unreliable one.

I think the second cover is ever so much better than the first anyway. And this is a case where yes, it was changed after a lot of online outrage.

MrsJospeph, the UK editions of the Peter Grant books have the London map artwork. You can probably get them from Amazon.co.uk or The Book Depository.


message 31: by [deleted user] (last edited Mar 22, 2011 09:02PM) (new)

MrsJoseph wrote: "Kerry wrote: "Speaking of Midnight Riot and Moon over Soho, I saw an interesting post regarding the protagonist on the cover yesterday.

http://nethspace.blogspot.com/2011/03......"


Hmm. The portion of the quote I'm responding to wasn't shown. Anyway, this is in response to Message 22.

You can possibly get a copy of Rivers of London (though be aware it's hardcover only, unlike Midnight Riot, etc.) via bookdepository.com (free shipping to the US) and you can certainly get one from Amazon.co.uk (but you'll be paying shipping). You could also try ebay.com, but if you really want to search for the best deal or try to find a first printing, then you could use bookfinder.com, which searches a variety of dealer and bookstore websites.


message 32: by Carol. (new)

Carol.  | 195 comments Just stumbled on an urban fantasy series by Laura Anne Gilman about urban paranormal investigations. Written largely from the p.o.v. of a Latina-heritage bisexual female. Added boys is the diversity of the investigation team. I just read the second one "Pack of Lies" and enjoyed it.


message 33: by MrsJoseph (new)

MrsJoseph | 860 comments bookstothesky wrote: You can possibly get a copy of Rivers of London (though be aware it's hardcover only, unlike Midnight Riot, etc.) via bookdepository.com (free shipping to the US) and you can certainly get one from Amazon.co.uk (but you'll be paying shipping). You could also try ebay.com, but if you really want to search for the best deal or try to find a first printing, then you could use bookfinder.com, which searches a variety of dealer and bookstore websites."


The HB is out of stock (at $17.35) but the paperback is $18.08!! I just can't spend more money for a paperback than the hardback...I just can't do it.

I checked out Amazon (US) and they are selling Rivers of London (hb only) for about $15 but only via 3rd party sellers (would you believe that someone is trying to sell a signed copy for $250!!)

The Moon over Soho MMPB looks like the original cover.


message 34: by Carolyn (last edited Mar 23, 2011 09:34AM) (new)

Carolyn (seeford) | 192 comments MrsJoseph wrote: "Wow. Thanks for the link Samantha. That just makes me sad. Liar isn't in my genre but I'm thinkin of picking up a copy just to support the author."

MrsJoseph - I read the trade PB copy of Liar, so I didn't know anything about the whole HB cover whitewashing.

I did really enjoy the book, however, and while billed as YA, with a fantastical element, I consider it a fantasy novel. (I don't want to put in any spoilers, but if you must know, look here: (view spoiler) If you like fantasy, go ahead and give it a try.


message 35: by MrsJoseph (new)

MrsJoseph | 860 comments Thanks for the info Carolyn! That makes it a little better...

Like Kerry unreliable narrators make me a little crazy (ever since Absalom, Absalom!)


message 36: by [deleted user] (last edited Mar 23, 2011 08:24AM) (new)

Re: Message 33

Yeah, kind of ridiculous how high the price of a signed first/first has gone in just a couple of months. Anyway, bookdepository is selling the HB through Abebooks for $17.83 w/no shipping. Click on the $17.83 link at the top left of this page to get to it:
http://www.bookfinder.com/search/?ac=...


message 37: by Destructo (new)

Destructo The Mad | 11 comments I really liked Walter Mosley's two novels featuring Leonid McGill (who is a man of color other than pink), The Long Fall and Known to Evil. I am not a huge fan of a lot of Mosley's other stuff, so I was pleasantly surprised by these. Very well written.


message 38: by MrsJoseph (new)

MrsJoseph | 860 comments Destructo wrote: "I really liked Walter Mosley's two novels featuring Leonid McGill (who is a man of color other than pink), The Long Fall and Known to Evil. I am not a ..."

That pic of him is scary!


message 39: by MrsJoseph (new)

MrsJoseph | 860 comments bookstothesky wrote: "Re: Message 33

Yeah, kind of ridiculous how high the price of a signed first/first has gone in just a couple of months. Anyway, bookdepository is selling the HB through Abebooks for $17.83 w/n..."


Thanks! This might work.


message 40: by Carolyn (last edited Mar 23, 2011 09:40AM) (new)

Carolyn (seeford) | 192 comments I'm still reading the second book in the series, but it definitely fits in Phoenixfalls' category #3, (great categorizations, by the way!) I recommend The Steerswoman series by Rosemary Kirstein. I'm reading the omnibus edition of the first two books right now: The Steerswoman's Road (The Steerswoman, #1-2).

At one point in the first book, the author explicitly explains that all the peoples are different colors/shades and combinations. It is when she is describing the powerful wizard the main character is confronting - that most people in the land are varying shades, and that this man in particular is the darkest of dark brown, both his hair and skin, and that he has piercing blue eyes. But I get no feeling that color matters to the folk in this novel, she doesn't describe the coloration of most of the people the characters are meeting.


message 41: by Kerry (new)

Kerry (rocalisa) | 59 comments I recently read Cold Magic where in her alternative history Kate Elliott has had tribes out of northern Africa take refuge in the Celtic countries and intermarry. As a result, there is a wide a varying collection of people with skins of various shades from very dark to very pale. It comes up as part of the descriptions quite often, how comparatively brown different characters are, I guess to relate back to the alternativeness of the world.


message 42: by [deleted user] (new)

Destructo wrote: "I really liked Walter Mosley's two novels featuring Leonid McGill (who is a man of color other than pink), The Long Fall and Known to Evil. I am not a ..."

I read The Long Fall and really, really enjoyed it. I've been eyeing book 2 on my shelf recently, but I have to get through some other books first. I also believe book 3 came out in hardcover a couple of weeks ago, if I'm not mistaken.


message 43: by Starfire (new)

Starfire David Weber's Honor Harrington series seems to feature people from quite a few cultures and ethnicities extrapolated forward into an SF context; and while Honor herself is caucasian (with, I think, some Asian ancestry that shows in her eyes, although I could be wrong on that one), her best friend, Michelle "Mike" Henke (who's a peer of the realm and cousin of the reigning monarch) is described as having dark brown skin.

Also, you mention "series" but don't specify books - so if you're also interested in TV series, I don't think you can go past Zoe Washburn in Firefly as a powerful woman of colour (and Shepherd Book is pretty amazing as a character too). Although my one cultural niggle with Firefly is that for a universe in which almost EVERYONE is billingual in Cantonese and English, and Chinese culture is all-pervasive, how come we so rarely see Asian faces anywhere????


message 44: by Julia (new)

Julia | 607 comments I read Liar by Justine Larbalestier and liked it very much, but I understood, well, I think I did, this queen of unreliable narrators.

Charles de Lint often writes characters who are all sorts of races and ethnicities. Mulengro by Charles de Lint has a Rom/ gypsy protagonist. Svaha by Charles de Lint his only sf, has a Native protagonist. His most recent book, a YA novel, has a Chinese- American protagonist in the Mexican- American, Mexican and Native poor Southwest. It's The Painted Boy by Charles de Lint.

As for Firefly, Starfire, we rarely see Asian faces in this world, because we're seeing it from the POV of the dregs of society, and in this 'verse, that's everybody but Asians.


message 45: by Phoenixfalls (new)

Phoenixfalls | 195 comments Julia wrote: "As for Firefly, Starfire, we rarely see Asian faces in this world, because we're seeing it from the POV of the dregs of society, and in this 'verse, that's everybody but Asians."

I don't know about that. . . when Mal crashes Inara's hoity-toity dance and gets in that duel practically everybody's white. I think it's just that Hollywood doesn't employ that many Asians. Hawaii 5-0's used every Asian actor I can name (aside from the couple movie stars) in half a season! (And they totally fall into the "all Asians look alike" trap. . . not to mention the times I've caught them using a Latino/a to play an Asian character! *headdesk*)


message 46: by Julia (new)

Julia | 607 comments Mal and confreres usually stick to the backwater part of the universe, even for that hioty-toity dance. We only rarely see Alliance- held power places, like when Sheperd Book is hurt, or we're seeing the Tans childhoods...

But yeah, there shoulda been more Asians. Bet Joss had a story in his pocket to tell us why we don't...

I haven't watched "Hawaii 5-0" since it was originally on, but from what you write about it, I sorta want to!


message 47: by new_user (new)

new_user I second The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms! While Phoenixfalls is right that it doesn't take place in our world and racial context, the setting there is familiar, with the white imperialists, and the context and race/culture/status does play an important role, even if she doesn't address it directly too often to maintain the fast pace and immediacy. She hints at it enough that I'd love for her to expound on it more.


message 48: by Ricky (new)

Ricky (trulyblissed) | 11 comments I'm not going to recommend anyone but I think science fiction and fantasy has done more than its fair share of presenting all people as real people - having both good and bad in them. I, myself, don't like to read books about perfect people where everyone worships the hero or the the hero is all-knowing and his - usually- or her thoughts and words should be emulated.
I want to read about people - no matter their color or sex - who have doubts about themselves and struggles to overcome. Whether or not the people overcome these doubts and struggles is the author's say and his or viewpoint when writing that book.
A side note - I watched an old movie, Waterloo Bridge recently which had a sad ending but I thought was pretty well for the plot. The main character didn't overcome her struggle but isn't that life sometimes?


message 49: by Tina (last edited Mar 27, 2011 01:54PM) (new)

Tina Starfire wrote: "David Weber's Honor Harrington series seems to feature people from quite a few cultures and ethnicities extrapolated forward into an SF context; and while Honor herself is caucasian (with, I think,..."

Not only is Michelle decidedly dark skinned, but Queen Elizabeth would be considered a bi-racial analog to our society. And Honor herself is part Asian with her mother being visibly Asian.

The Honor Harrington series is great, great fun with a wide variety of races depicted throughout the series.


message 50: by new_user (new)

new_user "I think science fiction and fantasy has done more than its fair share of presenting all people as real people..."

I have to strongly disagree with you, Ricky, and I'm not sure I know where you're coming from, considering that much of fantasy centers on young, white boys in a pseudo-medieval, pseudo-European setting. So I feel that it's left out quite a lot of people, actually.


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Books mentioned in this topic

Starship Troopers (other topics)
A Wizard of Earthsea (other topics)
Blood and Iron (other topics)
In the Cities of Coin and Spice (other topics)
Zoo City (other topics)
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Authors mentioned in this topic

Various (other topics)
Elizabeth Bear (other topics)
Lauren Beukes (other topics)
Ursula K. Le Guin (other topics)
Samuel R. Delany (other topics)
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