If you’ve been on Twitter this past week, you’ll notice that the community is abuzz with discussions on representation in fantasy. I can barely believe that it’s still up for debate. I am continually disappointed that while white and heteronormative narrative continues to dominate the genre, we still get people leaping to its defense when someone questions about the absence of diversity.
Somehow, there’s an idea that diverse fiction is a genre unto itself, that we should not demand to see ourselves reflected in popular fiction. In my mind, good fiction should be relatable and to some extent, it should accurately reflect the real world – even if it’s a fantasy.
To soothe my anger at the twitter debate, I went on Tor’s website to read through several of the SFF short stories they publish. I love the fiction published on this site because i) it’s free! and ii) it’s always quality and pushes to be inclusive. At the end of the day, the best way to support inclusive stories is to read them and shout your love to the world about them. So here’s a list of great SFF stories you can enjoy by just clicking on the link!
We made a terrible mistake in thinking that replicating memories was sufficient to replicate a person.
Cixin Liu took the world by storm with The Three-Body Problem, one of the first Chinese science fiction to be translated into English. I love how he uses daring ideas on science, and reapplies it to answer questions about humanity. This short story about engineered and inherited memories between a mother and her unborn child captures his style perfectly. Ken Liu delivers a smooth and technically impressive translation, as always.
Your lips opened like a flower. My finger slipped between them, softly, until it was submerged up to the knuckle in the warm wetness of your mouth. Your damp, empty mouth.
Follows a noblewoman, Claire, and her obssession with former slave Aya. Tragic romance or spine-chilling tale about human selfishness and infatuation? You decide (and be sure to tell me your thoughts!). This story also features beautiful usage of the second-person narrative.
She looked down at the tea she was whisking and thought, this tastes like earth, like the bone marrow of beautiful spirits, like the first love I’ve yet to have. It is green like the color of spring leaves and my mother’s favorite skirt and the skin of a kappa.
Makino is grieving, her husband is dying, when a kappa comes calling with dark promises and proclamation of love. Atmospheric and haunting, this dark fantasy is at once contemplative and disquieting. I love the usage of the traditional kappa myth in a modern Japan.
Like a dancer and her shadow, the two girls swayed, each separately, to a harmony as young as themselves and as old as the land beneath.
Modern day version of the Cowherd and Weaver Girl tale, featuring girls in love. Need I say more? As usual, Ken Liu deftly meshes contemporary China with traditional myth and tales. With his work, there’s a sense of rediscovery and new interpretations of timeless stories.
If you enjoyed this story, you should 100% check out Ken Liu’s wonderful short stories collection The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories. Filled with China, speculative fiction, and beautiful proses.
I want to tell her it’s all right. That magic, like poetry, is a gift from the gods. But then I remember where I’m standing. Neither gods nor gifts abide between these walls.
Anica and Bienvenida trade poems and comforting words through the prison walls of the Inquisition. A quiet and melancholic story on friendship and faith. Gives us a glimpse into the Nahuas and their religion.
The description of the eucalyptus jinn varied seasonally. In summertime, his cheeks were scorched, his eyes red rimmed like the midday sun. Come winter, his lips were blue and his eyes misty, his touch cold like damp roots. On one thing everyone agreed: if he laid eyes on you, you were a goner.
A disillusioned Pakistani professor reminisces about the tales his grandfather once told him: of a fallen Mughal princess and the jinn who protects her. This story is so beautifully written, and I have a weakness for stories that focus on clashes of culture and forgotten lores.
Have you read any of these? Do you have some recommendations for me? Let me know below ❤