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Poem: "Zee" - The Wordsmith's Forge
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
ysabetwordsmith
ysabetwordsmith
Poem: "Zee"
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fayanora From: fayanora Date: January 5th, 2012 03:49 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yes...

The other day, I realized how few people with disabilities there are in science fiction on TV. Last one I can think of was Geordi LaForge, where technology turned his disability into a superpower.

Well, actually, there was a one-time character on DS9 who came from a planet with lower gravity, but I don't really count her because she was only in one episode, used as an object lesson.

Come to think of it, disabilities are not common in any science fiction. I've already taken care of that a little in that my second Nokwahl novel has a character with fibromyalgia. There's a cure, in that future, but it's nanites, and he's deathly afraid of nanites.

I've thought about making a character in the Lyria universe who has an artificial arm after losing his real arm. Either he couldn't afford to get his arm regrown, or preferred to get the artificial replacement.

I also had an idea for the Nokwahl series of a blind character who used her *other* Sight to "see." Then, too, the planned third book has a whole species of beings who are deaf. They look like snakes with six arms in a kind of torso. They can feel vibrations in the floor, but they can't otherwise hear. They communicate with one another via sign language.

Gosh, I need to see if I can do better than that.
mdlbear From: mdlbear Date: January 5th, 2012 06:11 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yes...

Hmm. There's Heinlein's Waldo and Rhysling, and I can think of at least two with flying wheelchairs (a secondary character in a couple of Larry Niven's stories, and a villain in one of James H. Schmitz's Telzey stories).

None of my stories are published, but I have a blind character who's an AI built into a guitar. She uses sonar, and on rare occasions borrows a feed from friendly security systems.
fayanora From: fayanora Date: January 5th, 2012 06:17 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yes...

One could easily do a near-future sort of SF extrapolating from existing technology in Japan, to write a story where mechanical exoskeletons for the elderly and the paralyzed can be modded to turn disabilities into superpowers. I'm picturing, for instance, an 80 year old man in a modded suit literally knocking over a bank vault. :-D
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: January 5th, 2012 06:32 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yes...

>>None of my stories are published, but I have a blind character who's an AI built into a guitar. <<

Wow, that sounds really cool.
mdlbear From: mdlbear Date: January 5th, 2012 07:28 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yes...

It's rather dated and badly in need of a rewrite; I believe this draft dates to 1988 or so: http://steve.savitzky.net/Lit/Hacktown/Orig/ladym.txt
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: January 5th, 2012 06:30 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yes...

>>The other day, I realized how few people with disabilities there are in science fiction on TV.<<

Extremely few represented in any genre or media, alas.

>>Come to think of it, disabilities are not common in any science fiction. I've already taken care of that a little in that my second Nokwahl novel has a character with fibromyalgia.<<

*nod* It's why I make a point of including some in my writing.

Torn World is especially interesting because the North and South have opposite ways of dealing with handicaps. In the North, if you can live, you're fully integrated into the culture -- but handicapped people often die because it's a dangerous place and survival is marginal for everyone there. In the South, the Empire will provide for you and keep you alive -- but usually not let you work, and not make any accommodations for your needs, just shuffle you off to an institution.
(Deleted comment)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: January 6th, 2012 07:43 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yes...

Miles Vorkosigan and DareDevil are favorites. And Racke from the Renshai series.

>>OK, so maybe more than a few in absolute numbers, but the proportion is still pretty poor.<<

It would be interesting to figure what portion of the population has some kind of disability, then compare that against fictional population counts.
siege From: siege Date: January 5th, 2012 01:42 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yes...

I actually know a person who's going blind, who uses her Sight to see when she needs to. Like when mowing the lawn for her parents! She says the colors get all extreme and fluorescent when she does it.
fayanora From: fayanora Date: January 5th, 2012 01:43 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yes...

Ooooh, neat.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: January 5th, 2012 06:11 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yes...

That's pretty cool.

One reason I have little spare energy is because most of it is tied up in a lot of nonliquid ways, making my body function in a semi-normal fashion. I know this because when my energy drops below a certain level, a lot of those functions go offline. So for instance, the part of my color vision awareness that runs from just below normal to exceptional is like that; when it goes down, I can't make fine distinctions between colors or match something in front of me to something at home in my closet. Some of my ability to resolve small or complicated shapes is also virtual. The huntersight that alerts to motion or camouflage seems to be hardwired though.
siege From: siege Date: January 5th, 2012 06:32 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yes...

If you like, I can send you a small-scale "engine" construct which can feed spiritual energy in whatever direction, focus, or intensity (up to its maximum) you like. I can construct a more physical-style sliders-and-buttons interface, or a more virtual/empathic IU (which I use).

Since it uses an intake that's more like a plant or solar panel than a jet engine, it's safe to use in any area with a reasonable flow or production of energies; the flaw with this is that covering its intake will reduce its production significantly.

I tend to pair engines with barriers or defense units to protect them for this reason, but a very small unit in a protected space such as one's home should be just fine as long as the gremlins leave it alone.
lb_lee From: lb_lee Date: January 5th, 2012 06:23 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yes...

Hrrrrm. I can remember a couple examples of disability in sci-fi, actually.

The manga series 'Planetes' had a child who was raised in low-g, and so couldn't go to Earth because the gravity would wreck her. But that series actually had a lot of focus to the amount of work the astronauts went through trying to maintain their health. Spider Robinson's "Stardance" series also dealt with a similar issue, as I recall.

Otherwise... there's "User Unfriendly," by Vivian Vande Velde. One of those old "trapped in a VR game" stories, where one of the characters has cerebral palsy, which isn't disclosed until the end of the story, when they're back in meatspace again.

I feel rather annoyed at the lack of disability in spec fic, because it would seem that in sci-fi particularly, the very concept of disability could be tugged at so much. I mean, an alien species who are all blind would have their society rigged for that, and wouldn't see being blind as a problem at all, just everyday business. Think of the ways futuristic societies could adapt to people's needs, rather than adapting THEM to ITS needs!

--Rogan
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: January 6th, 2012 08:06 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yes...

>>One of those old "trapped in a VR game" stories, where one of the characters has cerebral palsy, which isn't disclosed until the end of the story, when they're back in meatspace again.<<

That's kind of cool. I'm also reminded of Avatar where Jake had lost the use of his legs.

>>I feel rather annoyed at the lack of disability in spec fic,<<

I have found crowdfunding really great for this. You can request what you want and usually get it. Not just from me, but lots of people. kajones_writing did a wonderful story for me about an asexual vampire. Now, for a human, being asexual can be a social hardship due to people hassling you, but it's not a physical problem. For a vampire, given that their feeding tends to have sexual overtones, it complicates a basic survival activity. So shifting the 'race' of a character can change what functions as a handicap.

>> because it would seem that in sci-fi particularly, the very concept of disability could be tugged at so much. I mean, an alien species who are all blind would have their society rigged for that, and wouldn't see being blind as a problem at all, just everyday business.<<

Exactly! Most cultures go based on what a majority of people can or can't do. In Torn World, almost all the Northerners can see time-distortions; for them it's a regular ability, and they think of NOT having that as a serious visual handicap. If you can't see the Others, you can't avoid them, and they're deadly. But in the South, nobody knows about that stuff and they generally can't see it.

I've written about characters who are sessile, and to them that's normal, although some of them may pull up roots and use equipment to move around. But I don't think they really like it; they'd rather go somewhere and park again. It must be kind of like moving house is for us. Compare that to humans, who get very upset if their personal mobility is impaired.

And everybody with more than one limb loves the gadgets made by a species that only has one, because they're all designed to use one-handed. Something designed by a two-handed species often requires two hands. Sometimes you can do more, or do things more efficiently, with that stepped-down equipment.

One time people got snotty in my science fantasy universe, and the Separatists put round doorknobs on all their doors because a bunch of species couldn't easily use them. Meanwhile the Cooperatives put lever handles or automatic openers on their doors. So you could walk through the station and tell the politics by looking at the door handles.

The amount of time I spend inside the heads of people who aren't human has given me a very wide view of how the world works. Any world. There are always going to be things you can do that someone else can't, and things you can't do that other people can; what matters is how much you manage to do with whatever you've got.
natf From: natf Date: January 6th, 2012 01:28 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yes...

This reminds me to try to write some more on my novel (excerpt) one day…
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