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POC Destroy Science Fiction! is a special issue of the Hugo-winning magazine LIGHTSPEED, 100% written—and edited—by POC creators.
POC Destroy Science Fiction! is a special issue of the Hugo-winning magazine LIGHTSPEED, 100% written—and edited—by POC creators.
POC Destroy Science Fiction! is a special issue of the Hugo-winning magazine LIGHTSPEED, 100% written—and edited—by POC creators.
2,354 backers pledged $51,734 to help bring this project to life.

Personal Essay: "I'm a Big Black Man Who Writes Science Fiction" by Malon Edwards

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When we set out to destroy science fiction with this Kickstarter, we didn't want it to be your ordinary, run-of-the-mill campaign. We wanted it to be full of smashing, crashing POC voices, telling what it really means to be POC reading and writing science fiction. One of the ways we hope to do that is by sharing a series of personal essays about the experience of being POC in science fiction.

Personal Essay: "I'm a Big Black Man Who Writes Science Fiction" by Malon Edwards

I'm a big guy. I'm six feet two inches tall. I'm two hundred thirty pounds. And I'm black.

I'm a big black guy.

That's an uncomfortable image for many people. Mostly white people. But it's a nearly non-existent image when it comes to science fiction writers.

Big black guys are supposed to be athletes.

In 1998, I served as an AmeriCorps VISTA in Billings, Montana, where I worked in an elementary school with at-risk students for a year. My first day, I walked into the cafeteria during lunch time and some kid said (a little too loudly), "Wow, Michael Jordan!"

Makes sense. There weren't too many big black guys in Billings, and the only one he'd ever seen (and remembered) was the greatest basketball player of all time.

Or, big black guys are supposed to be authority figures.

My second year as an AmeriCorps VISTA in Missoula, Montana, I worked at a high school, also with at-risk students. I recruited freshmen to participate in enrichment programs, which meant pulling them out of class. Word got around. One day, an upperclassman asked me if I was a truant officer. Makes sense. The only reason a non-teacher big black guy would pull some of the most troubled (and troublesome) students out of class was to discuss truancy issues.

But big black guys aren't supposed to be science fiction writers.

Makes sense. I didn't know any growing up on the South Side of Chicago. But I knew my sister.

My older sister introduced me to science fiction. I was four-and-a-half years old. She was fifteen.

She was a huge Star Wars fan. She’d seen it at the drive-in, where she held a tape recorder to the speaker hanging from the car window so she could listen to her favorite parts at home whenever she wanted. She'd also had so many Star Wars toys in her room that going in there was like Christmas morning to four-year-old me.

She had a twelve-inch-tall Darth Vader (cape included). I broke that. She had Luke’s land speeder. I broke that. She even had a three-and-three-fourths-inch-tall Lando Calrissian (cape also included). I broke that, too.

I broke everything I could get my hands on.

So she banished me from her room for the next three years. Banishment ended when she went away to college, which meant I could play with all of the toys I didn't break. But there were no toys. She'd taken them all with her.

There were books, though.

I don’t remember the first book I grabbed. Probably Dune. The Bene Gesserit fascinated me. I—now a little eight-year-old black boy on the South Side of Chicago—wanted to be one of them. When my sister came home from college, I told her. We talked science fiction for days. Even today, we still do.

Back then, my sister wrote short stories and plays, so she encouraged me to write. My first science fiction story was about two astronauts who take a rocket ship to the Moon. One decides to stay, all alone. The other goes back to Earth.

Not all big black guys are athletes. Or authority figures. Or even criminals.

Some of us, like me, are science fiction writers. For many, that's an uncomfortable image.

And yet, we big black guys write on.

Because that is what we do.

______________

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Malon Edwards was born and raised on the South Side of Chicago, but now lives in the Greater Toronto Area, where he was lured by his beautiful Canadian wife. Many of his short stories are set in an alternate Chicago and feature people of color. Currently, he serves as Managing Director and Grants Administrator for the Speculative Literature Foundation, which provides a number of grants for writers of speculative literature.

Matt Perkins, Torrain, and 30 more people like this update.

Comments

    1. Tasha Turner Lennhoff
      Superbacker
      on January 20, 2016

      Love this. These essays show why this Kickstarter is so important and why the stories are going to rock.

    2. Cecilia Tan on January 20, 2016

      "where she held a tape recorder to the speaker hanging from the car window so she could listen to her favorite parts at home whenever she wanted" -- That is awesome. And it's awesome you and your sister have such a bond. :-)

    3. Lizzette Walls on January 20, 2016

      Reading this makes me so excited for this kickstarter! My dad is a short, stocky, dark skinned Hispanic man. He's a heavy equipment mechanic. He also writes and draws some of the best science fiction short stories I've read. I've been trying to convince him for years to self publish some of his writings. Science fiction is so much more than old white dudes. I'm excited to share this with him.