Welcome to day two of Armchair BEA. To the left is a picture of my armchair. Of course, it isn’t an actual armchair, but rather a blue fuzzy mushroom chair that I got about seven years ago to put in my dorm room. It is the perfect reading chair.
Today’s prompts are about blogger development and genre fiction. For me, the two topics go hand in hand, because one of the main ways that I’ve grown and developed as a blogger is by expanding my knowledge of genre fiction.
When I first started blogging, I read mostly Russian literature, literary fiction, and historical fiction. I didn’t really branch out much further than that. While interacting with the blogging community, I stumbled upon three reading challenges hosted by Carl from Stainless Steel Droppings. The Once Upon a Time challenge occurs in the early spring, and encourages bloggers to try out fantasy and fairy tales. The R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril challenge occurs in the fall, and focuses on mysteries, gothics, and horror. Finally, the Science Fiction Experience in the winter is a chance to immerse oneself in science fiction, both classic and modern. Through these events, I expanded my horizons and discovered a love of speculative fiction. I’ve read books by Brandon Sanderson, Frank Herbert, Neil Gaiman, Patricia Mckillip, and oh so many more, and they’ve become some of my favorites.
Speculative fiction is underrated, and I love the way that reading about other worlds makes one think about the problems of our own. When I first began reading sci-fi and fantasy, I hadn’t realized that those genres were so rich or diverse. Stereotypically, I assumed that pretty much all sci-fi and fantasy novels were written by old white dudes. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Reading books by authors like Octavia Butler, N.K. Jemisin, Ursula LeGuin, and Sherri S. Tepper made me challenge my assumptions about race and gender in SF/F, and I’ve been on a quest to review more books that highlight the diversity that’s present in genre fiction. Here are just a few (in no particular order) that I’d recommend:
- “Wild Seed” by Octavia Butler – This is the first book in the Patternist series. It tackles issues surrounding race and slavery by telling the story of a man named Doro who tries to breed and control a race of telepaths.
- “The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms” by N. K. Jemisin – After her mother is murdered, a young woman named Yeine Darr allies herself with enslaved gods in a struggle for the throne. Delightfully dark.
- “The Left Hand of Darkness” by Ursula K. LeGuin – LeGuin challenges gender roles by describing a society in which gender isn’t so well defined. People are androgynous unless it’s mating time, in which case they grow either male or female genitalia (but people get to experience both sides throughout their lives). Very anthropological in style, and quite unique.
- “Crystal Singer” by Anne McCaffrey – A type-A overachieving girl named Killashandra Ree begins working on a planet that mines crystal. She must adapt to a new and dangerous way of life. This was one of the first sci-fi books that I ever read, and it’s one of my all-time favorites.
- “Dust Girl” by Sarah Zettel – YA fantasy about a biracial girl growing up in the Great Depression. She also happens to be a fairy.
Have you read any books that made you challenge your assumptions about a genre? If so, what are they?