Monday, July 20, 2009

Nalo Hopkinson: Diversity Roll Call Explores Sci-Fi & Fantasy

Your assignment: spotlight science fiction and fantasy titles where people of color are the leads, works by people of color in these genres or discuss your thoughts about race in these genres. Do you notice the absence of color? In what ways is race portrayed in fantasy and science fiction beyond using traditional racial terms like black and white? If the book covers prominently features people of color, does it affect your perception? Are we more comfortable with imaginary characters versus different race in these works?

As many of you know, I blog hop incessantly. One of the regular online challenges I discovered and love is Writers of Color 50 Book Challenge and this is where I read a review of Nalo Hopkinson's, Brown Girl In The Ring. I immediately went to Paperback Swap and requested it. Loved it! Guest reviewer, Bonnie Norman's review is here.

In this apocolytic Toronto, Ti-Jeanne discovers that she is third generation seer woman. She's none to thrilled with her powers, but a succession of events forces her to hone her skills and to embrace the gift she's been given. My first introduction to magical realism was Gloria Naylor's, Mama Day. The world of vodun and mysticism and ancestral ties in this genre were all new to me, and I was completely enthralled. Like Ms. Naylor, who spent years researching before writing her novel, Ms. Hopkinson clearly did her homework. This work has legs. The details and the complexity of the writing speaks to the power of language and imagination.

What was first a stumbling block for me- the dialect in The Brown Girl In The Ring turned out to be an integral element to the work. Later, I read an interview with Ms. Hopkinson and she confirmed my observation. See the quote below.

Nalo Hopkinson
Decemeber 6, 1960
Kingston, Jamaica
And whenever I worry that some readers may find the language to be too much work, I remember A Clockwork Orange and Riddley Walker, two classics in the genre that were both written in invented dialects.

Zetta discusses New Moon's Arms at Fledgling. I picked up a copy from the library this weekend. To top everything off, we got a copy of Skin Folk from a donor this weekend.

Read a great article on Ms. Hopkinson at Geoffrey Philip's and check out Ms. Hopkinson feature in our Color Online Quiz .

Read more CORA Diversity Roll Call: Sci-fi & Fantasy entries here.


tea said...


You surely do keep us up to date with authors of color. I really, really appreciate it.

Color Online said...

You're welcome, Tea.

Please tell others about us, particularly those who work with or mentor teens of color.

Amanda said...

Hello, I've come over here from Things Mean A Lot (I didn't want to hijack her comments anymore!). Yes, I am hosting the GLBT Challenge (that's one of the causes I've been supporting since I was 14 and knew what all of that meant) - I couldn't believe no one else was already hosting a challenge like that! So I decided to fill the niche, even though I've never wanted to host a challenge before.

So question: is this the blog you mentioned over at Nymeth's that I should check out? I've seen this blog in passing a couple times during the SS, and my husband pointed out the current book contest, which had some great selections on it. I didn't realize that the blog's focus was on minority groups. Stupid me, I just didn't connect "color online" with it's real meaning. Duh! Anyway, I'd like to learn more about your blog. I'm subscribing to it, and I'd love to hear if this was where you thought I should go (you mentioned a certain blog at Nymeth's). I'm subscribing to follow-up posts so I can get your answer. Thanks for contacting me, so to speak. :)

Villager said...

I read 'Brown Girl in a Ring' many moons ago. In fact, the book is lost somewhere in my stuff right now. I enjoyed the book and the author. I guess I need to find out if the author (Nalo Hopkinson) followed up her work with others in the same genre...

peace, Villager

Color Online said...

Hi Amanda,

Glad you found your way here. Yes, this is where we focus on people of color. My personal blog is Black-Eyed Susan's.

I've seen a few places host LBGTQ challenges. We did for Diversity Roll Call and Young Adult Book Central does something for LGBTQ Teen month.

Anyhoo, get comfy, sit a spell. We're glad to have you.

Color Online said...

Hi Villager,

I provided plenty of links to get you started.

Thanks for reading and commenting.

Stefanie Worth said...

Thanks for sharing this info! I'm a speculative fiction author (paranormal/contemporary African American romance by my publisher's definition) always looking for other writers and readers with similar tastes.

I invite interested folks to check out my work through my web site at And I'll be sure to keep checking back in with you.

Color Online said...

Welcome Stefanie,

Thanks for the link and we hope you will spend some time with us.

I'm looking forward to learning more about your work.

Nymeth said...

The Salt Roads was amazing, and so were all the Nalo Hopkinson short stories I've read in anthologies. Must get my hands on Brown Girl in the Ring.

Also, I'm happy to see Amanda found her way here :)

GrowFarmington said...

While at the library over the weekend, I picked up two very different books because they looked interesting. Both were written by women of color. Book one was The Dew Breaker, book two was a sci-fi/supernatural read called Minion. While I couldn't get into Minion, I was fascinated by The Dew Breaker and realized that it's time to expand my literary horizons and branch out! Will be checking your blog frequently for recommendations. Already added Brown Girl in the Ring to my reading list!

Color Online said...

Hi GW,
Have we met? We're in the same neighborhood. I was recently at the library. I picked up Dew Breaker. Didn't get to it (hangs head in shame). I've read mixed reviews of Minion. I like Hopkinson and looking forward to reading more.

Thanks for weighing in. Don't be a stranger.

Claudia said...

More Nalo Hopkinson to enjoy! I'm going to start with New Moon's Arms and then on to this one next.