Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette
ysabetwordsmith

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Blogging Against Disablism Day: My Characters with Disabilities

Today is Blogging Against Disablism Day.

EDIT 6/17/20: See also the the Fries test for disabled characters in fiction:
"Does a work have more than one disabled character? Do the disabled characters have their own narrative purpose other than the education and profit of a nondisabled character? Is the character’s disability not eradicated either by curing or killing?"
Enhanced version:
"Novels in which crips talk to each other? Novels in which we talk to each other about something other than wanting to be cured, or how to get cured, or why we want to die because we can’t be cured? Novels in which we don’t die?"

My characters with disabilities include ...


An Army of One: The Autistic Secession in Space features primarily autistic characters. While most of them are reasonably functional on their own, some like Backup really aren't. (People vary as to whether or not they consider neurodiversity to be a "disability.") A recent poem, "No Measure of Health," adds characters with other disabilities including a blind woman, Idalia. Spalling has some of the more dramatic PTSD if you're looking for mental disabilities.
Fries: Enhanced pass on mental disabilities for the series in general.

Clay of Life features Yossele the golem, who cannot speak (as is normal for golems) and lost his original feet of living clay which have been replaced with iron prosthetics.
Fries: Some individual poems may pass depending how you count.  Of the main characters, Yossele is a nonverbal golem with prosthetic feet and Menachem is an abled blacksmith.  "Seen and Respected" features Lane, who has gender dysphoria.

The Clockwork War involves soldiers who keep fighting with a wide variety of disabilities.
Fries: Pass in general, enhanced pass in some poems.  Be aware that this is war, so there are some fatalities.

Diminished Expectations centers around disabled characters, as a war has left the population with frequent birth defects. The attitudes about disability are mostly appalling in this series, but some of the characters manage to rise above their crappy society.
Fries: Enhanced pass for the series in general, but beware that this is still dystopic fiction.

Fiorenza the Wisewoman includes the veteran Mad Ercole who has post-traumatic brain injury syndrome. Abelie and Margherita are nonverbal due to an ill-advised blessing. Timoteo is depressed and suicidal.
Fries: Enhanced pass for the poems with Abelie and Margherita, who are sisters now left to communicate through jewels and flowers.  Most other poems don't have more than one disabled character at at time.

Frankenstein's Family includes various characters with disabilities. Igor is the most prominent, with a hunched back. Victor's dysmenorrhea is intermittent, but bad enough to flatten him at least once or twice a year.
Fries: Enhanced pass for the series in general, as the two main characters both have issues.  So do some other characters.

Monster House has a blind girl. Eventually she compensates with a seeing-eye gremlin and a magical artifact. So she can perceive the world around her, but not in exactly the same ways as someone with ordinary vision, and that influences how she interacts with places and people.
Fries: Probably not because there's only one recurring character with a disability, although I can't remember if any other disabled characters ever show up.

The Moon Door began with the premise: What if all the pissing and moaning about werewolf transformations is just because abled people don't know how to handle chronic pain? To someone with a severe chronic illness, lycanthropy is a trade up and doesn't hurt nearly as much. Again, most of the characters in this series have one or more disabilities; it centers around a women's chronic pain support group and, as time goes on, werewolf pack. Considerable attention goes into deciding whether or not it would help various people to trade in their current disease(s) for lycanthropy. Belladonna has depression as well as chronic pain from a previous suicide attempt.
Fries: Enhanced pass IF you consider lycanthropy a different disability, or if you count the fact that not all characters can or want to exchange their current disability for lycanthropy; but not if you rule out stories that include anyone improving or curing their disability.

One God's Story is all about people struggling with substance abuse and addiction, mostly alcoholism.
Fries: Enhanced pass if you consider addiction a disability, otherwise not.

Path of the Paladins features several characters with PTSD including Ari, Johan, and the goddess Gailah.  Rape and recovery are prevailing themes throughout.
Fries: Enhanced pass for mental issues.

P.I.E. is what I write when I get fed up with urban fantasy about "smart, strong" heroines falling in love with assholes. Brenda is a private investigator who deals in paranormal cases. She uses a wheelchair -- several of them, actually. She has a couple of jerks who are interested in her, but she is not interested in them. She picked out a nice guy instead. I was not expecting Darrel to be so accident-prone, but he is.
Fries: Probably not, as Brenda is the only recurring character with a disability.

Walking the Beat is lesbian romance, in which Kelly is Deaf and Dale walks with a limp, typically using a cane. A lot of the focus, especially early on, is about Dale adapting to life as a policevet after retiring for medical reasons.
Fries: Enhanced pass for the series in general, as both main characters have disabilities.

Polychrome Heroics is a vast sprawl of threads tangled together. Aquariana has hypersensitive skin that must stay moist and can't tolerate clothes more than very briefly. The Berettaflies thread features several characters with physical disabilities due to the stings of superpowered insects. (Fries enhanced pass.)  Cassandra has a mystical disability -- someone hacked off her superpower of Flight -- and her friend Groundhog can't use his for mental reasons. (Fries enhanced pass only for the early episodes, as they later begin to recover some of their abilities; but they're always going to carry the past experiences.)  Danso and Family includes Nathaniel with sensory processing disorder and allergies, and Rosita's attachment disorder may count too.  (Fries enhanced pass if you count those as disabilities.)  Dr. Infanta is immortal in a child's body, with severe mental issues including PDSD due to mad science torture; Judd has a speech impediment due to trying to speak English from an equine body. (Fries enhanced pass for the poems that include both of them or either of them with a different disabled character.)  Officer Pink features several characters with disabilities; Skippy's inability to control his teleportation poses a lot of challenges for him, and Turq's superpowers sometimes tear up his body.  Pretty much all survivors of Carl Bernhardt's mad science have physical and/or mystical damage in addition to PDSD from mad science torture.  (Fries enhanced pass for many of the poems, though not all.) Shiv has several problems (which he is hiding the hell out of) due to a traumatic brain injury, and assorted other mental and physical issues, some of which have gotten fixed over time and others not.  Also in this thread is Ragno, who loses most of one forearm in a terrorist attack; Simon, who uses a wheelchair, and assorted others.  (Fries enhanced pass for some poems, though not all.)  Scattered amongst the other poems in Polychrome Heroics are lots of other people with disabilities, such as Cheersquad the SPOON dispatcher, Syncope and her housemates, many veterans in Laguardia Residence Hall, retired soups at Morninghill, Bruno the Brewer, Bethan, Dr. Doohickey, Green Man, Megan Argall, Cold Cash, the Archivist, Jerryrigger, past reference to Emperor Claudius I, past reference to Galvarino, and so forth.  Quite a lot of characters have some flavor of post-traumatic stress including Turq and his cohort Nebuly, Shiv, Cassandra, and the raging mess of issues between Calliope and Vagary.  On the shallower end, Pain's Gray goes through acute stress reaction after being tortured, but thanks to good support, he comes through it with little if any lasting damage. Shane is depressed and suicidal due to a conglomeration of losses on top of turning into a lizardman.

The Blueshift Troupers deals in variable disabilities. Most of the main characters are shapeshifters, each planet has its own prevalent disabilities, and more often than not somebody on the team winds up wearing one for a while.
Fries: generally not, because the disabilities come and go.

Torn World has a page listing stories/art that feature disabilities. Rai is blind, Brelig is missing a hand, and there are many others.
(This included some grand Fries, especially among the warsailors, but the website has sadly closed to the general public.)

Tripping into the Future features a protagonist with traumatic grief and depression after losing everything.
Fries: no, because the series only has one character.

Eloise in "The Last Rose of Winter" is at the end of her life, requiring a wheelchair and a live-in nurse.
Fries: no.
Tags: activism, holiday, reading, writing
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