People with Disabilities Are About to Destroy Science Fiction

By | 2018-01-16T14:07:28+00:00 January 11th, 2018|
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When it comes to science fiction, the genre that first brought us cybernetic enhancements and gene editing, disability has been largely erased from the conversation – until now. Disabled People Destroy Science Fiction, an upcoming science fiction anthology by Uncanny Magazine, is accepting submissions of fiction, poetry and non-fiction essays that address the genre through the prism of disability. The reading period is from January 15 to February 15, 2018.

Uncanny Magazine is a bimonthly, online-only science fiction and fantasy magazine. They are picking up the mantle on a series of successful Kickstarter funded anthologies, including: People of Color Destroy Science Fiction, Women Destroy Science Fiction and Queers Destroy Science Fiction, which were published by Lightspeed Magazine. In Disabled People Destroy Science Fiction, sci-fi writers and readers with disabilities will get an opportunity to offer their perspective on the genre.

“I’m super thrilled we’re doing this now because I think when we talk about how disability intersects with speculative fiction in general, the two genres where it is most pronounced that we need to do the work are science fiction and horror,” says Elsa Sjunneson-Henry who, along with being the nonfiction editor for this anthology, is a noted essayist on the representation of disability in media and has congenital rubella syndrome. All of the editors on this project have a disability.

“Nothing about us without us is the byline of this, I would say – all disabled writers, all disabled editors,” says Sjunneson-Henry.

Science fiction has plodded along “without us” for too long. Sub genres like cyber punk have  introduced concepts like gene editing – now a possible science fact thanks to CRISPR – and cybernetic enhancements (mechanical replacement of human anatomy), without addressing disability at all. Sjunneson-Henry hopes that will end with this volume of Destroy.

“In science fiction, so often you have the erasure mechanic. I look at cyberpunk and I’m like, I’m sorry, you’re basically just writing about future tech in adaptive devices and yet you don’t talk about disabled people because you couldn’t possibly imagine a reality in which disabled people exist. In the future, disability just won’t exist according to this genre and I think that’s the wrong way to go about it. If anything, disabled people would be at the forefront of a lot of this, or at least I hope they would be,” she says.

If you want to be one of those voices that is finally heard, Uncanny is accepting submissions from writers with disabilities for the month-long reading period starting January 15. The anthology will be published in the fall of 2018 in both digital and print editions available for purchase. The writer’s guidelines and pay rates can be found here.

“I think a lot of disabled people are excited to get to do this because there haven’t been a lot of spaces for disabled people to be a part of a science fiction community and be embraced by them. I’m really excited to see what comes from it and I think other people [are] too,” says Sjunneson-Henry.