A Selfish Argument for Diverse Stories

I made a choice over the past several years to mostly abandon mainstream SF and seek out work by and for people from other countries and cultures, Indigenous people, LGBTQIA2+ people, minorities, etc.

I’ve had a couple conversations recently which have challenged me to examine this choice more deeply and articulate the reasons why I made it.

It has a great deal to do with my commitment to diversity and building empathy. I support #OwnVoices and #WeNeedDiverseBooks. Sharing stories is how we forge understanding and respect. I want to embody this belief in my personal reading choices.

But I also have a more selfish reason: my own personal entertainment.

We’ve all heard the theory of stories as mirrors, windows, and doorways. Some stories reflect yourself and your experience of the world. Some show you different people and different experiences. Some stories let you enter those different experiences, see the world through different eyes.

The overwhelming amount of SF I’ve read in my life—and still the majority of SF being published today—is written by, for, and starring cisgender white men from middle-to-upper class Western cultural backgrounds.

People who are a lot like me, in other words. Most of these stories are mirrors for me. And the truth is:

I’m tired of staring at myself.

I’m bored with it. Seriously, how many mirrors can I gaze into before it’s just straight up narcissism?

I need windows and doorways. I need to spend time with people who aren’t me. Variety is the spice of life and I’ve lost interest in such a monotonous diet. Mainstream SF is delicious, make no mistake, but it’s still pretty much the same meal over and over and over. I want something different to wake up my taste buds.

Diverse stories are more interesting to me—I want stories that show me perspectives and understandings I don’t already know.

Diversity is more fun.

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