Wiscon: Women Destroy Science Fiction

Panelists: Megan Arkenberg, Kimberly Long-Ewing, Vylar Kaftan, Shira Lipkin

Kimberly: In what ways can we encourage more diversity?

Shira: Publish diverse woks.
Vylar: Some sort of statement about publishing stories from all backgrounds. It means a lot when that statement is there. Read the magazine you want to publish in, and know the stories that it publishes. Some editors say, “I just publish the best stories,” but the idea of the best stories is subjective. Stepping outside of yourself and your culture is hard.
Megan: It helps if you have genre lists that include women and POC. Support kickstarters that back them.

Kimberly: What about slush readers? Are they gate keepers?

Shira: It could happen that they are.
Megan: Ask for a type of story from a type of writer if you’re not getting it.
Vylar: Readers expect what they’re used to in plot and form. Again, it’s a matter of stepping outside of culture. Spend time supporting diverse writers.

Kimberly: What works?

Megan: What works is something that doesn’t try to solve every problem at once. If you have a woman’s only anthology, what’s your goal? What are you trying to do?
Shira: You have to be careful you’re not producing a pink version of a magazine. This can lead to the mentality of “We gave you a women’s only issue. What more do you want?” You want to think about the long term effects in SF as a whole. Also you want to consider women who don’t consider themselves women.
Vylar: You want to avoid the compartmentalization of SF and the women who write it.
Kimberly: I don’t know if I want to read girl stuff. I might get cooties.
Megan: A magazine should introduce new people, rather than using the same old authors.

Kimberly: What doesn’t work?

Vylar: Not publishing diversity.
Megan: Reviewers missing the point. Projects being shot in the foot by their reception.
Vylar: See section on publishing the best stories above. Editors should help and encourage young writers.
Megan: The Mary Shelly phenomena. Some women recommended over and over and over…
Vylar: Places to find new writers: Broad Universe, Carl Brandon Society, Outer Alliance, Tiptree. Support writers by buying their books.
Kimberly: Non cisgendered male voices are important too.
Shira: The stories look different with different viewpoints.
Vylar: Stories shouldn’t represent a narrator as a token.
Megan: All women anthologies avoid the tokenism problem. Everyone deserves to see different perspectives while respecting their own perspectives.

Kimberly: Book recommendations?

Megan: Read anthologies with writers you haven’t heard of.
Kimberly: Look at the Broad Universe catalog.
Vylar: Look at Nebula winners and nominees.
Shira: I will post a list on my blog.

Questions from audience.

Do people run away from writing women’s issues, such as raising children or domesticity? These stories don’t seem to be published as much.

Shira: There is a danger of writing women as men with boobs.
Vylar; All readers have biases. This doesn’t match the greatness I have read, rather than the greatness that can come forth from something new.
Megan: No one likes being the token anything.

Other comments:
Slushers are doing what the editors want. We should make an effort to have diverse slushers.

Author: Catherine Schaff-Stump

Catherine Schaff-Stump writes fiction for children and young adults. Her most recent book, The Vessel of Ra, is the first book in the Klaereon Scroll series. She is currently working on its sequel, as well as penning the middle grade adventures of Abigail Rath, monster hunter.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.