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8 Comments

  1. Meghan
    March 10, 2011 @ 2:41 pm

    Very interesting topic! Definately food for thought…

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  2. Jenna
    March 11, 2011 @ 11:59 am

    Wow. I had not thought about writing a character with a disability, but I guess that’s a big hole in worldbuilding, isn’t it? Because unless you give a specific reason why everyone in your world is exactly alike physically, how is it reasonable to assume they are?
    But there is one author who comes to mind as someone who writes Speculative Fiction though. Andrew Clements has written two or three books where the main protagonist is blind. But the way it is written, her blindness is somewhat of an advantage. The story centers on invisible people, and since her eyes do not function like everyone else’s she trusts her other senses and is able to believe an invisible boy’s story…
    Anyway, they are fantastic books whose titles I can’t remember. But they are definitely worth reading.
    Thanks for the post, Julie!

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  3. Valerie Strohl
    March 11, 2011 @ 4:28 pm

    I love the idea of using characters with limitations or disabilities, but better yet, it would be nice to have these characters without the focus being their disability or illness. If we ever hope to achieve equality, we need to put less focus on the “issue” and more on the person.

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  4. Catherine Krahe
    March 11, 2011 @ 5:02 pm

    Julie, I started a mental list of disabled protags… and then realized that they were almost university visible disabilities, rather than invisible ones like diabetes or asthma, and that more than half of them were missing/burned hands.

    There’s a hole in my genre, dear Liza, dear Liza….

    I went to a panel at Wiscon last year that was wonderful– they mentioned that many disabilities are situational. Bujold’s quaddies are the best example I can think of right now. Put them on a planet, and they’re clumsy and alien. In space, though, they don’t need as many workarounds as legged humans… so it’s wild-type people who are disabled.

    Still, not a lot of diabetes in fiction. I will give historically-set fantasy a mild pass, but not more than that.

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  5. Julie Holderman
    March 19, 2011 @ 2:43 pm

    Valerie – I completely agree. As I mention near the beginning, I don’t want to see stories about ‘triumphing over adversity’ – I want to see heroes who are heroes and happen to have medical conditions that set them apart from those who don’t have to think about their bodies every day, just as I’d like to see stories with heroes of alternative sexuality or gender without the focus being on those topics.

    And thank you, Jenna! I’ll take a look at those.

    That’s part of the problem, too, I think Cassie – historically speaking, diabetes didn’t even start to have research breakthroughs until the 1920s, and many other chronic illnesses are the same way. So it falls on the authors to think up viable, logical workarounds, and many… well, they just don’t. (I do forgive historical fantasy for that. Mostly.)

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  6. Catherine Krahe
    March 21, 2011 @ 10:56 pm

    If you have magical healers, I think it would be interesting to have diabetes or any other chronic illness. It could be done so creepily– a woman collapses in the square, then wakes up. “Hi there,” says the healer. “I own you now.”
    “What?”
    “You’re going to need to check in with me three to six times daily for the rest of your life, or the rest of your life will be very short. Here’s a booster.” The healer zaps her. “Now here’s what I want you to do….”

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  7. Lisa BaoI tri
    April 9, 2011 @ 6:52 pm

    A few years ago, I wrote a very strongly-worded blog review of Leslie What’s story, “Psoriasis.” The author ended up commenting, defending her intentions, and I retracted my tone somewhat; but my visceral reaction to the story was absolute disgust. It depicted a man who was repulsed by his wife because she had severe psoriasis. Said man was the protagonist and supposedly sympathetic. I took issue with both the portrayal of psoriasis as a bubonic-plague-type illness and of disability as being an emotionally valid reason to leave your spouse. (My bias is still showing, clearly, and I haven’t reread the story since. Perhaps What didn’t intend for her protagonist to be sympathetic.)

    That said, in my own writing, I definitely shy away from chronic illnesses and disabilities for the classic “getting it wrong” reason. In one story, I tried to write about a character’s disability as simply present but not important; half of my critiquers didn’t pick up on the fact that she was disabled. It’s problematic many ways.

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  8. Lisa Bao
    April 9, 2011 @ 6:52 pm

    Um, I have no idea why my name got jumbled in the previous comment, which was mine.

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