Writers like Saladin Ahmed, Cindy Pon and Shveta Thakrar show that non-Western worlds can be fantastic, magical and unique, without resorting to common exoticizing tropes.
That all three writers are also persons of color certainly helps, but that shouldn’t limit anyone–of any background–from trying to do better. I do not subscribe to the school of thought that it is solely up to PoC to write diverse stories. It’s certainly relevant that we “write our own stories,” yes. But I should be able to write stories that aren’t about my particular ethnic-racial background. And so should everyone else. That argument in my opinion is a cop-out, that conveniently leaves PoC holding the responsibility bag. It lets white-dominated speculative fiction continue on doing what they do–while PoC are relegated to smaller enclaves that get little to no popular visibility. We’re all responsible for creating not only more diverse worlds, but ones that challenge our past (and modern) stereotypical tropes.”
Plastic bottles lend themselves to an elegant policy trick that can greatly reduce the environmental impact of all that guzzling. You might even have it where you live: It’s called a bottle bill.
Bottle bills require beverage retailers to collect a five-cent (or more) deposit on every recyclable bottle sold. The deposit is returned to the consumer when they return the bottle. Ten states, including California, Michigan and Massachusetts, currently have bottle bills in place.
Adding that tiny deposit—that little system of reward for those who consume responsibly—can have an enormous environmental impact. States with bottle bills recycle beverage containers at almost three times the rate of states that do not. In Michigan, which has the highest deposit rate in the nation (10 cents), the bottle bill has been credited with reducing total waste 6 to 8 percent a year.
So, where do our electronic relics end up once we finally decide it’s time to recycle them? And what does our relationship with these outdated technologies say about us as a culture?
Julia Christensen, a multidisciplinary artist focused on systems of technology and consumerism, is creatively exploring the issue of electronic trash with a series of research-heavy investigations called Project Project (first ‘project’ reads like the noun, second ‘project’ reads like the verb that describes what a projector does).
In Burnouts, the most recent part of Project Project, the artist uses outdated iPhones and other trashed tech to create functional projectors through which she beams animations of obsolete constellations— celestial configurations that have been retired from star maps, often because light pollution has made them too difficult to see from Earth.
Although I have to point out that there was a piece of speculative science fiction called The Blazing World published by one Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle-upon-Tyne in 1666, slightly predating Mary Shelley.
This is the thing. Women have been doing awesome shit since there was awesome shit to do, we’ve BEEN THERE, if anyone bothered to look.
Oh, they looked. And then maliciously and willfully erased us from the books to keep anyone else from “getting ideas.”
Hell, the first named author in history? Enheduanna, a Sumerian high priestess, poet and lyricist. She’s known as the Shakespeare of Sumerian literature.
Last week, Africa Is a Country, a blog that documents and skewers Western misconceptions of Africa, ran a fascinating story about book design. It posted a collage of 36 covers of books that were either set in Africa or written by African writers. The texts of the books were as diverse as the geography they covered: Nigeria, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Botswana, Zambia, Mozambique. They were written in wildly divergent styles, by writers that included several Nobel Prize winners. Yet all of books’ covers featured an acacia tree, an orange sunset over the veld, or both.
"In short," the post said, "the covers of most novels ‘about Africa’ seem to have been designed by someone whose principal idea of the continent comes from The Lion King.”
Read more. [Image: Wikimedia Commons]
It’s this lack of positive representation for latinos that photographer Eunique Jones Gibson is seeking to address with her project, "Por Ellos, Sí Podemos." Gibson photographed 31 Latino kids ages 2 to 14 for an empowering series that pays tribute both to the trailblazers who broke ground for the community and to the kids who will one day pick up the reins.
A picture of Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya on paper flowers during a rally on the anniversary of her murder, in Moscow on October 7, 2014. Politkovskaya, a critic of President Vladimir Putin, whose dogged reporting exposed high-level corruption in Russia and rights abuses in Chechnya region, was shot dead in her Moscow apartment building on October 7, 2006. (Maxim Shipenkov/EPA)
“The globalization of knowledge and Western culture constantly reaffirms the West’s view of itself as the centre of legitimate knowledge, the arbiter of what counts as knowledge and the source of ‘civilized’ knowledge. This form of global knowledge is generally referred to as ‘universal’ knowledge, available to all and not really ‘owned’ by anyone, that is, until non-Western scholars make claim to it. When claims like that are made history is revised (again) so that the story of civilization remains the story of the West. For this purpose, the Mediterranean world, the basin of Arabic culture and the lands east of Constantinople are conveniently appropriated as part of the story of Western civilization, Western philosophy and Western knowledge.”