Star Wars Saturday: Representation Matters (and a Book Announcement)

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If we can’t write diversity into sci-fi, then what’s the point? You don’t create new worlds to give them all the same limits of the old ones. – Jane Espenson

In almost 40 years of existence, Star Wars has done some good work in terms of diverse characters, though there is still room for improvement, even in more recent creations.

Source: Wookieepedia.

Source: Wookieepedia.

I grew up with favorites such as Leia Organa, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Han Solo and Lando Calrissian. I fell in love with Mara Jade when reading Timothy Zahn’s Heir to the Empire in the early 90s. I jumped up and down when we got Mace Windu, Bail Organa and Padme Amidala in the Prequel Trilogy. I can’t wait to see the new trio in Episode VII, as well as the new and returning characters.

Star Wars has had recurrent missed opportunities with depiction of disability. So far, most romance and characters presented were straight. I hope to see more characters of colors and other species have important roles in the future, as well as even more compelling female characters of all ages.

Yet, the franchise has done good things since it was created. It was what prompted me to return to my collection of essays A Galaxy of Possibilities: Representation and Storytelling in Star Wars, and revise it, as well as add two new chapters. Tackling the whole universe would be a lifetime work, but the following essays aim at shedding some light and discuss aspects of diverse representation in the franchise:

  • Introduction: Why Representation Matters and Why Star Wars has a Role to Play
  • Chapter 1: Star Wars Rebels: A New Text to Link the Old
  • Chapter 2 : Lando Calrissian : Iconic Scoundrel
  • Chapter 3: Star Wars’ Jedi Younglings: A Benevolent but Controversial Education System
  • Chapter 4: Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II – A Milestone for Star Wars Female Characters
  • Chapter 5: Mara Jade: Pillar of the Star Wars Expanded Universe
  • Chapter 6 : Female Wizards: Jocasta Nu and Kreia
  • Chapter 7: Tenel Ka: Negotiating Acquired Disability
  • Chapter 8: Nala: The Missing Link between Disney Princesses and Leia Organa
Cover designed by Jennifer A. Miller.

Cover designed by Jennifer A. Miller.

The New Revised Edition will be available in Kindle format on September 9 (print version TBA later this year), on all Amazon sites, including Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada. You can also find the book’s Goodreads page here. I’m always happy to connect with my readers!

What about you, fellow Star Wars fans? What aspects of diversity do you think were well done in Star Wars and which ones do you hope to see improve in the future?

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Friday Roundup!

Weekly roundups were one of the secrets to my modest early blogging success. I’m going to try and get back to doing that here. My roundups are three to five links. Sometimes they’re themed and sometimes random. I’m not posting them on any particular day, but I will try and have one a week for the next little while. Here’s a roundup of posts from four blogs I follow. All of them are a part of larger blogging projects.

Congratulations to Sabina of Victim to Charm on having her Feminist Friday post, “How Valuable is the Bechdel Test?” Freshly Pressed. SabinaECard

Even though I’m in the process of moving the coordination-type posts for the Feminist Friday discussions to Just Gene’O, I just have to mention Sabina here. I was thrilled when Sabina offered to write a post for the project, and I’m even more thrilled that she’s been Freshly Pressed. Take a look at Victim to Charm if you aren’t familiar with it already.

While we’re on the subject of Feminism, Leah’s got a Feminist Halloween project going at The Lobster Dance.  Here are a couple of excerpts from her first post that will give you an idea what it’s about.

Instead of a Halloween gender reader this year, I’d like to try to do a nearly-daily short (hopefully positive) post on items that other feminist Halloween-lovers can enjoy, including recommendations for horror and horror-adjacent works, writing on representation in the horror genre, and discussions of combatting sexism in Halloween . . .

. . . Horror can be created by and focus on women, queer and nonbinary people, people of color, and people with disabilities. And that, readers, is what I’ll aim to do in this series: highlight horror that doesn’t rely on violence against or fear of marginalized groups as the site of horror.

Feminist Halloween strikes me as an ambitious and interesting project. It touches on several issues that I care strongly about, so I can’t wait to see where Leah goes with it.

Redefining Disability2Speaking of ambitious blogging projects, take a look at “It Just Is,” the fifth installment in Rose Fischer’s Redefining Disability Project. In this latest post, Rose talks about why she’s taken on the task of promoting better representation of people with disabilities in media, and about the illusion of independence. I’ve done my best to follow this series so far, and now that I have a little more social media time, I’m hoping to keep closer tabs on it. It’s a worthy project, and as a blogger with several long-term projects of my own, I appreciate the amount of effort it takes to keep something like this going.

And if you’re into writing or Star Wars, you’ll appreciate “A Galaxy of Possibilities: Discussing Character Writing, Diversity, Star Wars and Fandom,” by the incomparable Natacha Guyot. This series is in its twelfth week now, and the latest installment is about some of Natacha’s New Republic characters that she decided not to keep.

Have a great weekend, and keep blogging!

 

Follow Friday on the Blog: Rose B. Fischer

If you’re looking for a blog to follow, you can’t do better than Rose B. Fischer. If you follow her, you will not regret it. She’s an experienced blogger with lots of interests, and she shares my view that the be best Internet is an Internet that runs on respect. Just read:

So,  you’ll find all sorts of things here: social commentary, reviews, roselogowriting tips, and anything else I happen to be interested in at the moment.

I have a standing policy of positivity. My posts are meant to be informative, entertaining, and to promote respectful discussion.  I write about things I like, things I support, or things I’ve learned that might be useful to others.  I won’t make a post specifically to rant, disagree, or list off reasons I don’t like Twilight.

Sounds like a blog you want to keep up with, right? Don’t stop reading. It gets better. Rose has a page that explains what Dune and Narnia mean to her, tells you things about her life, and gives you three ways to contact her with ideas.  It’s one of the coolest blog pages I’ve ever encountered.

Rose thinks and writes about a lot of things. You’ll have to explore her blog to find all the goodness, because the rest of this post is about one project. Rose has put a lot of effort into thinking about and improving the way we represent people with disabilities in our art. I’m thoroughly behind it and doing my best to help it along. Here’s how it started.

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Rose wrote a 14-part interactive series on the representation of people with disabilities in pop culture. She started it in February. I’ve read every word of it, and some of it twice. And she’s made it clear that she’s happy to help writers who are struggling to portray characters with disabilities in a real way figure out how to do that.

Rose and I are banging our heads together and trying to figure out how to start a discussion about improving the representation of people with disabilities in media. We’d love for you to join that discussion.

If you enjoy Sourcerer and Part Time Monster, there’s no doubt in my mind that you will enjoy Rose’s blog just as much.