Science and speculative fiction are genres commonly used to explore and commentate on social and cultural issues in worlds and scenarios which offer the distance which is sometimes required to take a broader view. Notable sci-fi and speculative fiction writers have been shown to use their novels to comment on a wide range of issues including, but not limited to, race, immigration, otherness and acceptance and are celebrated for doing so.
Interestingly then, whilst diversity of both race and opinion are common and popular themes within the genre, work by black authors is decidedly under-represented in the sci-fi/ speculative fiction market according to a recently released report by Cecily Kane. Black writers were the focus of this report which uncovered that of 2039 sci-fi or speculative fiction stories published in 63 magazines in 2015, just 38 were published by black writers. The report also acknowledged that similar figures could be attributed to writers of BAME origins more generally, however the report’s focus on black writers specifically was intended to highlight that diversity initiatives in the publishing of sci-fi and speculative fiction short stories in particular were excluding black writers.
Under representation of black writers and their work in traditional publishing has meant that increasingly, writers are turning towards indie and self-publishing options to get their work to the reader and to be heard in within the genre. This can sometimes lead to limited access to the wider sci-fi and speculative fiction market.
The report calls for a more diverse approach to the publication of sci-fi and speculative fiction from a range of voices so that varied original fiction is available to the reader and representation of writers from all backgrounds becomes equal.
River Volga spilling out into the Caspian sea, Tim Peake, June 6 2016