Well, writing my edition of the “Accessing The Future Fiction” blog hop got me thinking. I’m not doing a lot to get dis/ability issues into my fiction (along with considering race, nationality, gender, sexuality, age, etc.) The inclusivity is something that I ought to work on, even if I do it with my usual, privileged, white + British + cis-gendered + heterosexual + able bodied + not quite middle aged naivety and lack of tact.
ASIDE: If you haven’t guessed, I’m going to use the term able-bodied for someone who has the full count of limbs, etc. This is mainly because I object to using terms like “usual”, “average” or “normal” for those of us who are lucky enough to look like we stepped out of a school biology text book. If this upsets you, please suggest some alternative terms that I will use instead.
Anyway, this thinking has led to a couple more posts. This first one being about what I have managed to get across (I hope) in the stuff I’ve already written so I can come up with some ideas for what I need to improve.
What brought all this on? Well, as a reminder…
Accessing The Future
The Future Fire [External Link] are crowdfunding a science fiction anthology, this time focusing on the issues that come with dis/ability – and the intersections with other issues such as race, gender, sexuality, class, etc.
There’s a blog about it here: [External Link]
The actual fundraising is here: [External Link]
Please give serious thought to getting involved, even if it’s only buying a copy and / or taking part in the blog hop. These are things that need discussing.
So, without further ado:
The Stories So Far
I haven’t made direct use of a character who was physically dis/abled just because to date. I have a number of characters who have been injured due to events before or during narrative:
- Sid and his boy in The Boy And His Dog are injured to the point of requiring major, experimental treatments in order to survive. This assumes a norm to which both human and canine need to be restored – as a minimum.
- A current R&D WIP with working title of Ten Little Women has military veterans in it – one is paraplegic and one is an amputee. However, the projects mentioned in the story are about exoskeletons and gene therapy (epigenic and somatic). The use they are put to assumes that the only useful soldier is one in control of the usual limbs. As oppose to, say, using less obvious forms (i.e. legs instead wheels or caterpillar tracks) and adaptions.
A much earlier work, Nesting Instinct, uses makes use of artificial wombs and germline gene therapy (in not so many words). The artificial wombs allow individuals to become a single parent using averaged or improved genes, whichever they can afford, to replace the missing biological parent. They also allow the parent(s) to replace “less healthy” genes with averaged or improved “healthy” variants. By implication, the society of that particular near future pressures people to remove hereditary dis/abilities from the gene pool. This technology has been appropriated for the R&D world, so these implications are presumably present there.
I’ve only made use of one character who I would describe as mentally dis/abled – the main character in An Honest Woman’s Child (published in No Monsters Allowed, see right) is in many ways a highly exaggerated version of how I felt as a child. Although I wouldn’t want to diagnose him based on the characteristics he shows.
ASIDE: Coincidentally, he is also transgender – I mention this to avoid having anyone assume I’m calling that a mental dis/ability. I’m not. As I said, he’s an exaggeration of how I remember feeling as a child and I identified much more with the men I saw than the women at that sort of age. I assume it was more down to an unconscious recognition of male privilege than anything, as I’m fairly happy with being an adult woman with occasional days of genderless.
Given that the writer’s stock in trade is to take cool fictional people and torture them, many of my characters have had degrees of stress, PTSD and paranoia. It’s not easy being attacked by multiple werewolves and disposing of the bodies, after all.
There’s a fairly massive failing on my part to talk about dis/abilities as something that doesn’t need to be cured or
killedremoved. While there are chronic illnesses where this is true, many physical and mental diversions from “normal” (whatever that is) are not illnesses, just differences that require some other options.
In real life, these people need aids because we’ve built everything for the able bodied and the neurotypical (or psychopathic, in the case of many successful business people). I need to make this more obvious in my fiction – and maybe build some worlds that are more accepting of the differences.
Anyway, I’m now going to go away and have a little bit more of a think so I can come up with some bullet points and challenges to make sure I improve my approach to accessibility for all.