N.K. Jemisin has something to say to the literary powers-that-be who continue to ask her to contribute to their magazines: Try calling another science fiction writer of color for a change.
The three-time Hugo Award nominee and author of seven novels is no stranger to success, thanks in part to her supportive fans on Patreon. And with one novel, The Fifth Season, up for the Best Novel prize at the Hugo Awards in 10 days, and another novel, The Obelisk Gate, coming out Aug. 16, she’s got her hands full. But just because she’s busy, that doesn’t mean–as she pointed out on Twitter today–that there should be a dearth of other science fiction writers of color.
Throughout the Sad and Rabid Puppies saga, in which some readers protested progressive themes in sci-fi, Jemisin has been an outspoken voice advocating for diversity in science fiction. (Read her musings on “reactionary assholes” in the interview she did with the WIRED Book Club for more on that.) But too often, she has also found herself unwillingly cast in another role: the token non-white writer.
Ever since a report from magazine Fireside Fiction called out a lack of diversity in sci-fi on July 26, Jemisin has received six invitations to contribute to anthologies or magazines–and she’s leery of being one of the few go-to names when panicked editors scramble to be more inclusive. And in a tweetstorm this afternoon (below), Jemisin placed the onus on the markets, not aspiring authors, to make writers of color welcome. “The front gates are still shut, see,” she wrote. “You’re just letting a few more exceptions in the side door.” Jemisin may have broken into the world of science fiction, but for other writers to do the same, those gatekeepers need to open those doors wide.