Post-Racial Literature: A Bigger Picture
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I've noticed that on Earth, a lot is still made of race these days. Now, I'm not going to take the bait and call out specific instances because that'd detract from the literary discussion at hand. But I will say this: Much of the universe has moved past this point, and their societies have benefited from the evolution as a result.
Even the Humans who'd migrated away from Earth in the Terran System and moved to Second Earth over in the Quadron System wind up looking back at their brethren (whom they left behind) with confusion. For them, I think that it was a humbling but also an enlightening experience to finally realize that Humanity was not the center of the universe.
But as this applies to the writing of SpaceStation Colt: Damnitio Exeum (2009), some differences need to be pointed out between its 1998 prototype and the 2009 release. It starts early on during the prologue with two characters: Captain Linda Kincaid and Clarence. In the 1998 version, Captain Kincaid was described as a white female with blond hair, and Clarence was described as a black male. Interestingly, no other characters were described in such an explicit manner throughout the entire book - not even the major characters. This type of description was removed altogether from the 2009 release and hadn't been revisited in any other book that had been written since.
Back then, was it an oversight on the writer's part - a mistake? I'd say that it was an experiment if I ever read one. The proverbial 'dip the toe in the water' was implemented back in 2009 to not only see how those racial waters felt but to test the depth of the pool as well. The writer could have jumped right on in and gone all out by describing each and every (major) character in this manner (and that information does exist), or an additional trial could've been commissioned in order to work out the details on what would become our company line on race and a powerful statement on how its relations can be seen.
In that time - the ten years or so between the book being written and released that I so often refer back to, a comic book character was created and a comic book series devised called Ninja # (pronounced Ninja Number). The idea behind this character was that he was all races combined into one. Scenes were envisioned where he could blend in on Earth with any culture seamlessly, and (although Human) his facial characteristics were drawn as such. Some of the comics are actually posted on our web site in the Free Stuff section, but the creators wanted him to be the one comic book character that every culture could see themselves in. This was a bold idea, and it was never fully developed out because that project really didn't go anywhere, but the writer held on to the concept and would wind up implementing its mechanics full force - years later in the ensuing literature that we now hang our hats on.
When reading those eBooks, I notice how the Human characters are barely described. There's very little mention of physical characteristics, no mention of color, and barely any size or shape information. It's not distracting or anything because I'm afforded an opportunity to bring my own interpretation to the stories, so for that, I've gotta keep an open mind on the prospects of such an idea. From a character perspective, I can appreciate that because I sure don't want my description getting screwed up. Reader preference, I can deal with. Writer indignation bothers me.
SpaceStation Colt: Damnitio Exeum (2009) had a ton of characters doing a million different things, so describing what each and every one looked like would have made the book twice as long and less as concise. But relevance was the key here - that being race's irrelevance to the storytelling. There's two levels to this where I've come to understand that the writer's adoption of this technique as a part of the writing style was a conscious decision and a profound vision.
First, the characters within the universe don't even see race in terms of the pettiness of a race within a race. When the Dorans attacked Earth in the first chapter, I can assure you that they were not concerned about color because they were trying to kill...Humans. It didn't matter the person's disability status, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or religious belief. As long as the people stopped breathing when they finished firing at them, that was all that mattered. But shouldn't that be the only thing that matters anyway? With science fiction, in particular, the aim is to tell an engaging story on a universal stage, so why limit its scope with only a myopic worldview? There are times when delving more deeply into a culture to look at how pigmentation differences have embroiled a society might make sense, but the writer of the SpaceStation Colt series tends to believe that the fact that I'm half-Human and half-Doran is a much bigger story. Written differently, important issues like racism can be presented on a larger scale which can end up showing how small-minded the overall, continued squabble at the planetary level truly is. The previous sentence doesn't make light of anybody's plight but to say it might behoove the citizens of Earth to put the beef aside and team up in order to deal with the next interplanetary war which comes the way of the Terran System, seeking to turn that speed bump into a pothole on the way to universal domination.
Honestly, people can take that however they want. I'm gonna be forming alliances....
Second, as the writer once wrote in his autobiography, if some little girl was inspired by the main character, Marileva, and thought that the character looked like her, who was the writer to dash that aspiration? Again, this is profound because it goes back to the original idea of the Ninja # concept but expands that over a universe of characters. It's hard to be all things to all people, but barring dialect, this technique comes close. I'd imagine that the ensuing cover art would need to become equally as symbolic because the boilerplate character clip art just wouldn't seem to fit the deepness of this particular bill. And I'm not quite sure of the feasibility on how the practice could be extended to other mediums (movies, comics, etc), but this speaks to the power of the written word.
Post-racial literature is only limited by imagination but all-inclusive. Reader imagination and open-mindedness being the key here, the stories are meant to be all-inclusive of all readers and a creative gem of foresight for us all - authored in earnest.
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