Different Spokes

« Iceland's disability logo: Modern twist on Students with disabilities at DePaul get »

Sci-Fi Contest wants disabilities to be accepted...even in fiction.


Harp teacher, able-bodied, spend my life opening doors for my fiance and pretending to like baseball.

One of our good friends, Megan, sent us a link to this article about sci-fi villains and disabilities. Sarah Einstein (no word on her relation to Albert) writes a thought-provoking essay based off of Anne McCaffrey's Brain & Brawn Ship book series. I read the first book in this series a long time ago, and now that I've heard Einstein's thoughts, I want to go back and read it again. Wikipedia summarizes the series: " [it] takes place in the distant future, when parents of children who are born with severe physical handicaps but highly developed minds are given the option of allowing them to become "shell people"; encapsulated as children in a titanium life-support shell and specially trained for tasks that a "normal" human would be unable to do. These children, after coming of age, are employed in various manners (in the books, mostly as interstellar spacecraft brainships or as the "brains" of cities) to work off the debt of their creation and training."

I'm not quite as into sci-fi as some, but I've dabbled in the fiction world enough growing up to be familiar with quite a few stories, and this never even occurred to me how it was portraying disabilities. Kudos to Einstein for pointing it out and making us all think in a new way. There's no reason that Star Wars could fly on airborne jet skis and have a giant slug freeze people but couldn't unhook Darth Vader from his oxygen outfit. Just a little change in the mindset of these writers could go a long way. We do want to point out that McCaffrey wrote these books in the '60s, when the disability rights movement was just getting going, and before the passing of the ADA.

As the article explains, Redstone Science Fiction is hosting a writing contest called: "Towards An Accessible Future." They say, "You have until August 15 to come up with a story that portrays "disability as a simple fact, not as something to be overcome or something to explain why a character is evil. The submissions should also incorporate the portrayal of disability in a world where universal access is a shared cultural value."

Our hats go off to you Redstone and Einstein, great initiative and ideas, and thanks again to Megan for sending it our way!



Recent Posts


No Comments

Leave a Comment?

Some HTML is permitted: a, strong, em

What your comment will look like:


what will you say?

Most Active Pages Right Now

ChicagoNow.com on Facebook