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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.
2,354 backers pledged $51,734 to help bring this project to life.

Personal Essay: "On Destruction" by Naru Dames Sundar

Posted by Lightspeed Magazine (Creator)

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: "On Destruction" by Naru Dames Sundar

I devoured science fiction and fantasy as a child. I was an avid reader and I remember always being glued to the dusty shelves of the SFF section in libraries throughout my childhood. But I also learned of myth and fantasy through other means, stories passed down from my grandfather, vibrant reductions of the Ramayana and other Hindu myths. What I didn’t realize until much later was how my imagined visual experience of reading mainstream SFF placed myself as the reader on the periphery. None of those stories, enjoyable and amazing as they were, spoke to me with the kind of authenticity that resonated with me when I read South Asian authors of contemporary fiction. This is not to say that such culturally infused stories do not exist in print today, but true authenticity, as opposed to exoticization, is far too rare.

Science fiction imagines the future, and some of the best or at least most interesting science fiction hacks the twisting, turning path through the wilds between the now and that imagined future. In writing such an extrapolation, writers make choices. They pick what concepts, philosophies, social structures, and dynamics present today evolve to build their imagined world. To exclude something is as much a choice, conscious even when unintentional, as to include something.

One can argue about terminologies, about what it means to be a person of color, to discuss the complex semiotics of that expression and its implications—but in my heart there is something deeper and more important in what the POC Destroy SF! special issue is trying to do.

Destruction is necessary for creation, it is necessary for growth. Thoughts, modes of expression, tropes, expectations—all of these things ossify over time. There is a tendency to write to a narrow slice of the human experience, because it is the kind of writing that dominates the market, the kind of familiarity that editors appreciate. But we can be better than this—and we should. This is an ossified state. There is no growth from this feedback cycle. That is why all of the Destroy special issues are so vital.

In “destroying” SF, we are in fact rebuilding it, we are taking all that it was and adding to it. There are many voices out there, voices of different races, cultures, backgrounds. Voices that carry an authentic understanding of the things that underpin their histories, their people’s histories. I want to see their histories extrapolated into that unknown future. I want to see the stories that come out of their unique and incredible experiences.

Everything dies and everything is reborn. Nature recycles itself, every generation forming the bedrock for the next. This can happen slowly over time, and it can happen through fire. It is the same with stories—generations of voices adding their threads into the grand tapestry, each thread colored by what came before, but colored equally if not more by that raw experience that makes it unique and exciting and essential. This is why destruction, that necessary messy process that precedes creation, is so important. It is the visceral act of proving that there are no boundaries at the edge of the tapestry, that any such demarcation is an illusion brought about by points of view that have ossified into painful rigidity.

I look forward to seeing the body of work produced by the “destruction” movement in all of its forms in SFF. In particular I look forward to the POC special issue as a showcase for stories that incorporate a wider span of cultural richness into SF. These are vital works, vanguards for change, and opportunities for unheard voices to add to the grand tradition. No boundaries, no restrictions: nothing but stories, in all their authentic, vibrant glory.



Naru Dames Sundar writes speculative fiction and poetry. His work has appeared in Strange Horizons, Crossed Genres, and Nature: Futures, among others. He lives in the mountains of northern California. You can follow him on Twitter at @naru_sundar and on his blog at

Elya Arrasmith, Saodhar, and 7 more people like this update.


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    1. Tasha Turner

      "No boundaries, no restrictions: nothing but stories, in all their authentic, vibrant glory."

      Yes, this is what I'm looking forward to.