It’s the start of the year, so it’s time for yearly anticipated lists! There are tons around already, but here’s one of mine:
Karen Memory by Elizabeth Bear
Clockwork Crown by Beth Cato
The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin
Time Salvager by Wesley Chu
Updraft by Fran Wilde
Deadly Spells by Jaye Wells
Cold Iron by Stina Leicht
Half-Resurrection Blues by Daniel Jose Older
Court of Fives by Kate Elliott
Of Noble Family by Mary Robinette Kowal
Persona by Genevive Valentine
Pocket Apocalypse by Seanan McGuire
Grace of Kings by Ken Liu
Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor
I Am Princess X by Cherie Priest
This is just a short list (and no AR books, since my anticipated list of AR books is ‘all of them’).
And it’s a very particularly-curated short list. Because I’m seeing a lot of ‘Most Anticipated’ lists that are 90%+ able, cisgender straight white men from the USA, CAN, and the UK. So many of them. I have nothing against able, cisgender straight white men from US/CAN/UK, being one myself. I have no reason to believe that these anticipated lists with a lack of diversity are anything but totally earnest, and they’re probably not intentionally exclusionary of diverse writers. But the lack of diversity is notable, and worth talking about. There’s much more to the genre than so many of these lists would let on.
Bloggers, writers, and reviewers: if your ‘most anticipated’ or ‘to-be-read’ list shows almost no diversity, it may be worth asking yourself why that is. You might be missing out on books that you’d love to bits.
I’m not asking people to read to quotas, but instead consider the idea that non-Anglo writes, disabled writers, women writers, queer writers, and writers of color may already be writing the kind of books you like, and that it may be harder to find them due to the fact that they systemically receive less press and marketing support than works by writers who fit North Atlantic publishing’s default settings. So it may take a little more work to find those works, but I bet that it’ll be all the more rewarding when you find one you love and get to be the person who introduces it to your friends and colleagues. That has certainly been my experience.
And if you’re finding that it’s hard to find works by diverse writers, then you’re not alone. Works by diverse authors or about diverse characters face systemic disadvantages across every step of the publishing process thanks to the niggling bullshit of Kyriarchy in all its forms: racism, sexism, ableism, heterocentrism, homophobia, transphobia, and so on. If the books in your favorite bookstore or library show a lack of diversity, there’s a reason for that – and I bet it has jack-all to do with the quality of works by diverse authors or about diverse content and has everything to do with systemic bias.
Systemic bias is real, it’s pernicious, and it behooves us to be aware of it so we can make sure it’s not keeping us from discovering books we’re going to love.
Thankfully, there are resources out there for finding and discussing diverse fiction: SF Signal’s Special Needs in Strange Worlds, We Need Diverse Books, the Outer Alliance, The Carl Brandon Society, and more.