Tag Archives: Fantasy

Wisdom From Kammbia Book Review 73: The Dark Fantastic by Ebony Elizabeth Thomas

“The principles of the dark fantastic are so ingrained in our collective consciousness that when the expected pattern is subverted, most audiences cannot suspend disbelief. Readers and viewers complain that dark heroic protagonists are not likable. Critics observe that the characters, settings, circumstances, and resolutions are unbelievable. Agents regret that they just cannot connect with the characters.  Television and movie studios, as well as publishing houses, tell writers that their stories are not marketable. Thus, whether the story in question is a novel, a television show, or a graphic novel, the Dark Other remains caged.” 

This paragraph hits home as someone who loves (and writes) imaginative fiction for most of my life. My definition of imaginative fiction includes fantasy, science fiction, horror and the subgenres associated with them. I have created my own fictional worlds since childhood and it was my place of escape from the realities of growing up in the late 1970s-early 1980s as a black kid from St. Petersburg, Florida. I’m forever grateful for my mother, who understood this need I had to create my own stories that featured people from various backgrounds. However, I had a family member tell me that only white people may imagine the future or fantasize about a world that reminded them of Medieval Europe. That comment has always felt wrong to me and has sent me down a path to do my part to change that paradigm.

It is a welcomed sight to find that a book like The Dark Fantastic by Ebony Elizabeth Thomas exists to corroborate my innermost feelings to my relative’s myopic comment. Thomas examines the role race and the imagination intersects in four of the most popular fantastical works brought for public consumption in the past twenty years: The Hunger Games, Merlin, The Vampire Diaries, and Harry Potter. Each of these works has a black female character that plays a groundbreaking element to their stories but is still problematic regarding the trope of the Dark Other and its manifestations through the lens of the White Imagination.

Thomas argues that manifestation of the Dark Other reveals itself in several factors that includes self-sacrifice for the white main character, violence against this dark person in an imagined white world, hesitation to embrace a person of color as being worthy, and unrelatability of seeing a person of color in a context outside of the slavery-civil rights-ghetto paradigm. She shows through Rue Everdeen from The Hunger Games, Guinevere Pendragon from Merlin, Bonnie Bennett from The Vampire Diaries, and Hermione Granger from Harry Potter how those aforementioned factors reveal themselves in both subtle and overt ways. What hurts the most as one who prefers imaginative fiction over realistic fiction is how people can suspend their disbelief to acknowledge dragons, unicorns, and monsters in a book or movie but not a person of color in a nontraditional role outside the aforementioned paradigm.

The Dark Fantastic is a much needed book, and the author’s argument needs to be examined carefully and constructively to make genuine changes for imaginative fiction on the whole. In closing, I want to state that representation is not just about reading someone in a book or seeing on the screen that looks like me. It is about seeing someone in the full range of their humanity and not the box that society has placed for people who look like me. Thomas’ book begins the process of the emancipation of the imagination and it is about darn time. Also, I love the cover.

 

Wisdom From Kammbia Book Review 66: Brown Girl In The Ring by Nalo Hopkinson

Nalo Hopkinson is an author I have been wanting to read for a long time.  I have seen her novels over the years but had not gotten around to reading one until now.  Hopkinson tends to get overlooked in the current trend of black authors writing science fiction or fantasy. I don’t why that has… Continue Reading

Marion’s Favorites: Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin Documentary

I just finished watching a documentary on Ursula K. Le Guin, the great writer of Imaginative and speculative fiction. I know that Le Guin has categorized and championed herself as a science fiction and fantasy writer.  After watching this documentary, I get why she has embraced the genre as where she belongs. However, I believe… Continue Reading

Journey and Discovery: A Kammbia Omnibus Edition

The courage to face the truth. Diondray Azur had it. He took a gamble and looked hard into his roots. What he discovered changed him forever. A son of privilege in the land of Kammbia, Diondray learned one day that everything he believed to be true was in fact, a lie. When he discovered an… Continue Reading

Wisdom From Kammbia Book Review 1: The Ivory and the Horn by Charles de Lint

I ended my 2018 reading year with a short story collection by Charles de Lint. I enjoyed Dreams Underfoot and began my 2019 reading year with the second de Lint short story collection set in Newford. The Ivory and the Horn is a fifteen tale collection that continues to explore the wonderful characters inhabiting the… Continue Reading

Cassandra’s Revelation: A Kammbia Short Story

“Cassandra’s Revelation,” is about a chance meeting between Cassandra Applebaum, a sultry-voiced singer who hadn’t sung in years, and an old friend—one who saw Diondray stop a rainstorm. Inspired by her friend’s account, Cassandra penned a new song, “The One Who Made the Rain Go Away.” After a few days, she received a call from… Continue Reading