Oooo, Felicity Savage. God, I love saying that name. Every time I say it, I just want to toss my mane and give the audience/camera/blogosphere a slow-mo three-quarters smoky sultry wet-lipped pout.
So now, who the fuck is Felicity Savage?
Is she a porn star?
Is she a weather girl?
Is she the vice-president of the Christian Writers Association? Daughters of the Confederacy? Your local Home Owner's Association? Stenographer for a regional MRA chapter?
Because really, in this piece here? She sounds like she could be any of those (but nothing so cool as a porn star or weather girl.)What’s the Trouble With Selfies? Speculative Fiction and the Mirror Effect
Jesus, I don't know where to start. It's like three feet up a bull's ass in there. RICH.
Basically, what she seems to be saying is that science fiction is currently suffering from an overabundance of writing that employs characters that represent the concerns of the writer.
~blink blink blink~
Maybe I don't have this right. Because that sounds like crazy talk.
Ok--she's using the much-maligned practice of taking self-portrait snapshots and posting them on the internet as a metaphor writing about characters like one's self. Oh, ok, ok; so she's talking about Stephen King and James Joyce and Charles Dickens? Yeah? Interesting!
No. No, she's choosing to wag her finger at the rise of marginalized authors writing about marginalized characters--apparently all those women writers writing about women, black writers writing about black folks, and Asian writers writing about Asians. Hand-wringing! She writes (mind-bogglingly), "Nothing is gained by mapping our fragmented ethnic and sexual identities onto our fiction with the fidelity of a cellphone camera photo."
It's true that the best art isn't a camera. (Go read Ursula Le Guin's The Language of the Night
. Just do it.) The best art comes from within us, in a marvelous alchemy of interior and exterior ingredients. And yet who is Felicity Savage to make this statement? Oh, it's ok if it's done in lit-fic. (What?) She says "Dissection and interrogation of contemporary identities is exactly what lit-fic does, and it does it well." Excuse me all to hell and gone (I understand that Felicity Savage doesn't like swearing either.), but just what has one of the purposes of science fiction been since goddamned Mary Shelley? One of the greatest glories of science fiction, besides getting to play in the best sandbox ever, the Universe, has been the ability to look unflinchingly at ourselves, our society, our--dare I say it--fragmented ethnic and sexual identities
via the excellent lens of the possibilities inherent in the future.
Now--what the actual fuck, Felicity Savage?
Writing, no matter what genre you're in, is a game. A marvelous game of exploration--of the world and of one's self. Are you telling us how we should play that game? Are you telling the brilliant Nnedi Okorafur that she shouldn't play her game with her own game pieces, with her own tools, the ones that are best suited to explore the world she wants to create? Are you saying that I, a straight white Midwestern American woman, should be the one writing the story involving genital mutilation, warfare, and rape (and magic--so much magic)? Or are you saying, Felicity Savage, that such things should not be talked about in science fiction? Are you saying that such a--a--goddamn luminary
as Nalo Hopkins shouldn't write books like Brown Girl in the Ring
, or that Andrea Hairston shouldn't write novels like Redwood and Wildfire
Felicity Savage devotes a paragraph of this...piece... to an incident at WisCon 2010, where some people treated the PoC safe space like a zoo put on for their benefit, wherein she asks for compassion for "the straight, white, able-bodied, cis-gendered male!" who does his homework and tries to do the right thing, only to get smacked down for it. As an example of such smacking down, she links to K. Tempest's Angry Black Woman blog. Well, sorry, Felicity Savage, but in that post Tempest makes what's going on pretty damn clear. It's not a question of doing one's homework and being a Nice Guy. It's using one's fucking noggin, using what one has read, and perhaps doing a bit of checking what one says before one opens one's fucking mouth. So I really have no idea what that part is doing in Felicity Savage's blog post except perhaps as proof of what mean mean folks PoC in the spec fiction community are. Because gosh sakes, we're all friends now, right? To quote Felicity Savage, "we’re all in this together. Black, white, yellow, brown, male, female …"
Aw. Let's sing a song now, kay? And let's never mind what the incredible Pam Noles wrote in her own, heartbreaking essay, Shame
: I remember Dad saying, how come you never see anybody like that in the stories you like? And I remember answering, maybe they didn't have black people back then. He said there's always been black people. I said but black people can't be wizards and space people and they can't fight evil, so they can't be in the story.
Fuck you, Felicity Savage. Fuck you, whoever the hell you are. I reject everything you stand for in this essay, and I turn for enlightenment to Auntie Quail who has been mapping, and remapping the idiocies, the intricacies of humankind since before I was born. Says Ursula Le Guin, about science fiction:Science Fiction properly conceived, like all serious fiction, however funny, is a way of trying to describe what is going on, what people actually do and feel, how people relate to everything else in this vast sack, this belly of the universe, this womb of things to be and tomb of things that were, this unending story. In it, as in all fiction, there is room enough to keep even Man where he belongs, in his place in the scheme of things, there is time enough to gather plenty of wild oats and sow them, too, and sing to little Oom, and listen to Ool's joke, and watch newts, and still the story isn't over. Still there are seeds to be gathered and room in the bag of stars.
you, Felicity Savage?