“There are so few positive, realistic depictions of people with disabilities in SF,” says Djibril al-Ayad and Kathryn Allan. They want to change this. Together they will co-edit a new anthology for Futurefire.net Publishing with stories that interrogate issues of disability in both the imagined physical and the virtual spaces of the future.
Djibril and Kathryn have been so kind to answer a few questions about the anthology and the fundraising.
Why is this anthology important?
A lot of SF narratives imagine future worlds where either disability is erased or “cured” (as in utopias) or where disability proliferates because of technology or environments out of control (as in dystopias). Both of these extremes are problematic as they construct disability as something inherently negative, when, in reality, people exist—and will most likely continue to exist—along a diverse spectrum of ability. As well, sometimes well-intentioned writers include a character with disabilities, but they end up recuperating the same old, harmful stereotypes (like the magical blind person who can “see other worlds”). We want Accessing the Future to give space to stories that people with disabilities both write and can see themselves in, as they are and as they want to be (and not as how an ableist-society thinks they should be).
Why the title ‘Accessing the Future’?
We had a hard time coming up with a title that was both catchy and spoke to the goals of the anthology. Accessing the Future was ultimately inspired by the concept of accessibility —and all people should have the same access to imagining themselves in a future world. Society doesn’t really readily offer that space to people with disabilities, and this anthology aims to help further open the conversation.
What sort of stories do you hope to get and when will you put out the call for submissions?
We hope to get stories that challenge current negative and just plain wrong stereotypes of disability. We want to see stories that explore how things like technological augmentations and genetic engineering will shape our understanding of disability. We want to know what an accessible future looks like. The call for submissions goes out once the fundraiser wraps up in mid-September.
Could you tell a little about the fundraising and the rewards?
We’re fundraising through Indiegogo, which gives us the flexibility to raise as little or as much as the community contributes. We very much hope to raise at least $7000, which will allow us to produce a fully professional-paying anthology—especially important because we’re interested in writers from a wide range of perspectives and backgrounds, including underrepresented voices, and we feel it’s essential to pay these authors fairly. If we take in less than that, we’ll just produce a less ambitious anthology.
At the moment the donations are coming in fast and furiously, so it doesn’t look like we’ll be cutting corners! No doubt thanks to the exciting rewards we have liked up: as well as e-books and paperbacks of the Accessing the Future anthology itself, and other titles from the Futurefire.net catalog, we’re offering a limited edition slipcased hardcover version of the book, the chance to have your writing critiqued by one of the The Future Fire editors or Maureen Speller; bundles of special editions of e-books or paperbacks from the Wizard’s Tower and Reality Skimming presses, and tuckerizations (the chance to have a character in a story named after you) by Nisi Shawl, Lyda Morehouse, Morgan J. Locke or Steven Gould. There will be more rewards coming as we get closer to our goal too, and we think these are all really attractive and exciting.
Thank you to Djibril and Kathryn. I wish you both good luck and best wishes on this important work. I hope you’ll reach your goal, so we can read an awesome anthology.
If you want to know more about Futurefire.net Publishing, The Future Fire – their online magazine of socio-political speculative fiction, or their earlier anthologies, see their page here.
Djibril is a historian and a futurist, teaches at a university in London, and is the general editor of The Future Fire. He co-edited the two previous Futurefire.net anthologies, Outlaw Bodies (2012) and We See a Different Frontier (2013), and is forever learning just how intersectional things have to be to avoid being bullshit. He is probably eating chillies as we speak.
Kathryn is an independent scholar of feminist SF, cyberpunk, and disability studies. She is the editor of Disability in Science Fiction: Representations of Technology as Cure (2013, Palgrave MacMillan), and the inaugural Le Guin Feminist Science Fiction fellow (2013-14). When trying to make this bio quirky, she immediately froze and could think only of writing “science fiction is awesome!” Science fiction is awesome!