Author diversity...

Discussion in 'Trek Literature' started by MadeIndescribable, May 14, 2017.

  1. MadeIndescribable

    MadeIndescribable Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2017
    Location:
    England, South West of
    Don't get me wrong, I love Star Trek novels as much as the next Trekkie (possibly more so), and although there've been a few I disagreed with, I can't think of any I specifically disliked. They're written by a talented bunch of authors (and I know some of you guys post here, and please don't think I'm blaming anyone), but especially after having discussed diversity over on a Discovery thread, there was one picture on David R George III's blog about the recent Trek writer gathering that really stood out.

    The one with 11 white guys all stood in a row....[​IMG]
    (©2017 Karen Ragan-George)

    I'm not saying there aren't women authors (although Una McCormack and Kirsten Beyer are the only recent ones who spring to mind), and have no idea of any other authors ethnicities, but it does seem like the ratio is still pretty skewed.

    Especially for Star Trek...
     
    Jarvisimo, SPCTRE and { Emilia } like this.
  2. Nyotarules

    Nyotarules Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2016
    Location:
    London
    Not surprise really, but it does explain a few things in the books that I noticed. I love the ST novelverse, its my fav, but I notice if a human character is not white the colour or tone of their skin is described, when the human character is white, the colour of their hair or eyes are used. IMO it is as if the white human's skin tone, is the default standard for humanity.
     
    Last edited: May 14, 2017
  3. MadeIndescribable

    MadeIndescribable Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2017
    Location:
    England, South West of
    I have to admit I've lost count of how many character's are described as "Olive skinned"...
     
    { Emilia } likes this.
  4. Nyotarules

    Nyotarules Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2016
    Location:
    London
    Considering olives are green or dark in tone that description does not make sense to me unless the character is a greentoned Vulcan or Orion
     
    Last edited: May 14, 2017
    Enterprise1701 and { Emilia } like this.
  5. MadeIndescribable

    MadeIndescribable Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2017
    Location:
    England, South West of
    Yeah, I always wondered about that too. Probably why it always seems more noticable than any other description...
     
    Paul Weaver and { Emilia } like this.
  6. Nyotarules

    Nyotarules Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2016
    Location:
    London
    I do not mind human characters being described by their skin tone, but the writers should do it for all human characters, not just the nonwhite ones.
     
    { Emilia } likes this.
  7. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2001
    I try to avoid falling into that trap in my own writing. I try to remember to refer to white characters as "pale-skinned" or "light-complexioned" or whatever -- although just saying they're blond or redheaded can be enough.

    It helps, of course, if your viewpoint character is non-Caucasian. For instance, in my original story "No Dominion," I have the first-person narrator describe another character as having "warm brown skin, a few shades lighter than my own," which indirectly establishes to the reader that the narrator is herself dark-skinned, and which is phrased in such a way as to treat dark skin as the default, at least from the character's own point of view.

    Of course, it's a simple statistical fact that white people are a minority of the human race, and a shrinking minority since birth rates are lower in Europe and North America than elsewhere in the world. I think non-Hispanic whites are something like 1/6 of the species at best right now. So for those of us writing fiction set in the future, it's important to avoid falling into the trap of defaulting to white.

    In one of my Rise of the Federation novels, I think, I had the Andorian character Thanien reflect on his distaste for the Andorian slur "pink-skin" for humans, partly on the grounds of inaccuracy, since most humans come in various shades of brown.


    Anyway, as far as Trek authors go, I'd certainly like to see more diverse faces and voices join our little club.
     
  8. MadeIndescribable

    MadeIndescribable Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2017
    Location:
    England, South West of
    Me too. I get that Trek authors will come to write for Trek in different ways, but I have to admit that I'm confused that despite several women winning prizes in the fan based Strange New Worlds anthologies, it seems like it's only men who were promoted to write officially licensed novels??
     
  9. Dimesdan

    Dimesdan Living the Irish dream. Premium Member

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2007
    Location:
    The Republic of Ireland
    Sexism. In the sense that female writers are perceived not to sell books - Yes we all know that isn't correct anymore, but just look at JK Rowling, she was forced to use JK instead of Joanne or Jo Rowling when releasing the Harry Potter novels.
     
    Awesome Possum and { Emilia } like this.
  10. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2001
    First off, SNW was officially licensed. It was only "fan-based" in the sense that it was for people who'd made no more than two professional sales. But getting published in SNW was professional publication by definition. That was the whole point -- it was a way for new writers to graduate to working professionally, or at least to get more professional exposure than they already had. (I never wrote Trek fan fiction, but I was initially eligible for SNW because I'd made only two pro sales in my career up to that point, both original stories in Analog. Once I made my third sale with SCE: Aftermath, it disqualified me from further SNW attempts.)

    Second, it's not true that only male SNW contributors graduated to full novels. Ilsa J. Bick got her start in SNW and went on to write The Lost Era: Well of Souls along with three SCE novellas and two short stories. Kathy Oltion did two SNW stories before co-writing New Earth Book 4: The Flaming Arrow with her husband Jerry Oltion. Several other female SNW authors have done e-novellas and stories in other Trek anthologies, including Phaeda M. Weldon, Amy Sisson, Christina F. York, Kim Sheard, Peg Robinson, Mary Scott-Wiecek, and Louisa M. Swann.

    Let's compare that to the male SNW authors...

    Novels: Dayton Ward, William Leisner, Geoffrey Thorne
    Novellas/stories beyond SNW: Robert T. Jeschonek, Kevin G. Summers, Kevin Killiany, Scott Pearson, Jim Johnson, Kevin Lauderdale

    So by my admittedly rough count, an equal number of male and female SNW authors have gone on to do post-SNW Trek work, although it is true that the two most successful ones are male, Dayton Ward and Bill Leisner. Although Dayton's the only SNW author who's still writing novels regularly today.

    The regular novelists do also include Kirsten Beyer and Una McCormack, of course, but neither one got her start with SNW.
     
    Shaka Zulu likes this.
  11. MadeIndescribable

    MadeIndescribable Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2017
    Location:
    England, South West of
    Yep, I meant profesionally published stories written by fans.

    Fair enough on the novellas, etc, I was just going by names I recognised, which is generally easier with novels. Still disspointing that not all of them could continue though
    Yep, have to admit Una's my favourite.
    .
     
  12. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2001
    That's a nonsensical distinction. It's not like fan and pro are opposites. I've been a Trek fan since I was 5 years old, and I'm still a fan even though I've been writing Trek professionally for over a decade. Every veteran, professional writer in that photo above is a fan, as you can see by how joyfully they geek out over the set tour if you've seen their photo streams on Facebook. (And I'm really envious that I couldn't be there with them.) "Fan fiction" is just a nickname. It has nothing to do with whether the writer is literally a fan or not, any more than "slash fiction" means that the writer is a machete murderer. It just means it's something you do for fun rather than something you do as work. Like if a football coach goes home and plays fantasy football in his free time. Fan fiction is a hobby; pro fiction is a job.

    SNW was paid, contracted, professional work, therefore it had nothing to do with fan fiction. It was a contest for amateur authors seeking to break into professional writing. It was the Trek equivalent of the L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future contest, which has provided a forum for new SF/fantasy talent since 1983.
     
    Shaka Zulu likes this.
  13. Stevil2001

    Stevil2001 Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2001
    Given the cover of every Strange New Worlds volume had a blurb emphasizing that the writers in questions were fans, @MadeIndescribable's use of "fan-based" doesn't seem particularly nonsensical to me.
     
  14. DS9forever

    DS9forever Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2007
    What happened to Margaret Bonanno, S.D. Perry, Britta Dennison, Heather Jarman, Olivia Woods?
     
  15. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2001
    What happened to Howard Weinstein or Bob Greenberger or John Vornholt or Andy Mangels? There are plenty of former writers who aren't being called on anymore.

    While I agree that the current author roster would benefit from more diversity, I don't think there's been a conscious effort to exclude any specific group. It's just that the active recruitment of new authors that we saw in the past isn't being done as much anymore, for whatever reason. Part of it is that we don't get much in the way of anthologies anymore and only occasional e-books, so there are fewer openings.

    Which is a shame, not only because the line could use more variety in its authors, but there are some folks I miss seeing at Shore Leave.
     
    Shaka Zulu likes this.
  16. Dayton Ward

    Dayton Ward Word Pusher Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    May 22, 2000
    Speaking of eBooks, don't forget Paula Block, who's been teaming up with her husband, Terry Erdmann, for the more recent Quark-centric novellas.
     
  17. Shinzon4u

    Shinzon4u Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    May 4, 2017
    Shouldn't diversity be a distant second to telling a good story?
    White guys like Star Trek, big deal. (And of course, i'm not implying that all types of people don't like Trek, I am simply referring to the implication that the picture upthread is somehow "problematic".)
     
    PhotoBoy likes this.
  18. RandyS

    RandyS Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2007
    Location:
    Randyland
    Careful. This is the TrekBBS. Saying this stuff here will get you labeled racist, shouted at, and run off. Go down to TNZ and you'll see what I mean.

    For what it's worth though, I agree with you.
     
    PhotoBoy and Shinzon4u like this.
  19. MadeIndescribable

    MadeIndescribable Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2017
    Location:
    England, South West of
    Yes telling a good story should come first, but I'm sure black men, hispanic women etc can come up with awesome ones just as well as white guys. Seeing things from a different perspective would also enable them to write stories with more variety too. The picture is problematic because they don't seem to be given the chance for us to find out.
     
  20. { Emilia }

    { Emilia } "All three dialects" Moderator

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2011
    Location:
    European Union
    As @MadeIndescribable pointed out, people who aren't white men can tell stories, too. And adding diversity would hopefully mean adding new points of view and would enrich the novelverse.
    The picture is problematic because these things don't just happen coincidentally, just because somebody only cares about stories. They happen because there's a structural disadvantage for people who aren't white men, even if they're just as good or better at telling a good story.

    Oh, stop whining already. People criticize your posts when they're stupid. Like this one was.