Nick Mamatas links to a blog-post from the Clarion West writers workshop in the US. Stereotypical Behavior is a post from a Clarion attendee who has written a story that, during a critique session, met with some opposition.
While we focus on international SF, the on-going discussion on race in the US context is important to follow, and this episode should be of general interest to our readers:
Before heading to Seattle, I promised I would challenge myself by trying new subjects, playing with different styles, things like that. Having never successfully written a military science fiction story before, I threw my hat into the ring and pounded one out. Crack military strike unit, tough, capable, fighting in a near future scenario where the tech and political situation were close enough to where we are now that we could see the story from here. I fully expected it to be a rough, crunchy draft. I’m not a military expert, I don’t know squat about weapons or tech, but I had a few informed aces up my sleeve and I managed to crank out a piece that was a challenge to write, gritty and, I hoped, realistic. More than anything else, I wanted to learn from the experience.
One of the characters was a large black man. Who carried a big gun. He had a hyena thunder laugh. And liked to eat brazil nuts. His nickname was slang for brazil nuts. And I used said nickname in the second sentence.
You see where this is going, don’t you? I didn’t. My writer’s vision was fuzzy, and I failed to realize that to some people, a cigar is more than just a cigar. – read the rest of the post.
If you’re not familiar with the American slang for brazil nuts, just click on the link.
So what do you think? Comments welcome, as always.