It's (usually) more complicated than that.
(Submitted by Silver Tyger)
What’s a character type you’d like to see more of?
Characters that break gender roles and NO ONE CARES. Toph from Avatar the Last Airbender is probably the best example.
Mentally ill characters who are neither Utterly Broken Forever nor Violent and Dangerous, but simply people who happen to have a disability they need to cope with.
POC in roles normally cast with members of other races: Asian football players, Black scientists, Native American corporate tycoons, etc.
Women superheroes that aren’t either the token female on the team, or a spin-off of another character.
POC superheroes that aren’t legacy character destined to be replaced by the original with the next universe reboot. (I’m not bitter, no…)
Some day somebody is just going to hand me time and money and say, “Froborr, make a superhero universe,” and it will be the best thing ever, you’ll see.
Scientists who are action heroes, and scientists who aren’t. (Astronomers and astronauts. We need them both and I love them both and that was a very good part of Jurassic Park III.) Nerds who get the girl…and are girls, and get the nerd girl because they need to have something to talk about…Strikingly beautiful women who get listened to because they’re eminent neurosurgeons or brilliant engineers etc.
It will be me, when I win the lottery, Froborr. Or maybe something about money-making schemes involving time travel. I forget the details.
I’m working on one, slowly.
All the unconventional love stories, and yeah, what was said above about it not being a big deal, regarding not just gender but all permutations of sexuality and identity and…stuff.
In addition to things already mentioned, I’d rather like to see more good characters again, as in characters who care about doing good things. I’d also like to see more female characters who love what they do and aren’t punished by the narrative for it. Male characters get to do things they love, so should female characters.
Oh yeah, more good, and good winning, and hope surviving, and people cooperating and caring for each other. With friction and drama, sure, but basic decency among most. It doesn’t have to be hokey or syrup-sweet. “Bleak and grim” all the time is equally flavorless and less compelling or recognizably human.
Any character type that’s invariably a white male, only the character’s not.
Any character type that’s invariably female, only the character’s not.
Any character type that’s invariably a person of color, only the character’s not.
Any character type that’s invariably a heterocis individual (that is, any character type…), only the character’s not.
Lots more scifi involving minimal to no white people. I guess that’s not a character type…
More non-humanoid aliens, maybe?
Oh, THIS, I WANT THIS: Heroic characters who have mental health issues and possibly struggle with them but, like, have treatment and therapy and support networks. Because it is really not best to handle such things via metaphors and vigilanteism.
More women who get to be funny. And pretty and funny, I think, is a thing that is too rare.
More lovers whose drama doesn’t have anything to do with will-they-or-won’t they. Yes, they will, they are, they do. Now watch them try to find snuggle time while fighting zombies/perfecting time travel/curing the plague.
More divorced people who go through adventures together and save their children and may grow closer and appreciate each other’s good qualities, but they don’t get back together because they split up for REASONS. (Like, unless the reason was, “to better afford health insurance for our critically terminally ill child” in a drama full of sads, or “because if he married the Fairy Queen for a year and a day he’d get magic powers,” or something…)
I stole at least that second idea from Chris the cynic, and specifically from his comments on Sharknado, which I have still not managed to see.
Strikingly beautiful women who get listened to because they’re eminent neurosurgeons or brilliant engineers etc.
I actually knew someone in grad school who was incredibly gorgeous with blond hair who wore extremely short skirts and thigh high go-go-type boots. She had a very bubbly personality as well – and was getting her PhD in neurobiology. I loved that she had absolutely no shame in how she enjoyed presenting herself and wasn’t going to allow people to judge her for it.
In terms of all-POC fantasy / SF, I believe Ursula K. LeGuin’s Earthsea series is almost all POC. John Scalzi has some really cool non-humanoid aliens in his series (both the Old Man’s War universe and the Android’s Dream), although they aren’t the main characters. Android’s Dream also involves a heroic bureaucrat, although he’s not really heroic in the bureaucrat role per say, it just happens to be his job.
Long-married couples who deal with crap as it comes are awesome. That’s why Rose and Bernard were two of my favorite characters on Lost.
Le Guin’s Earthsea does indeed have an almost-all POC cast. The only white characters are the “barbarian savages” who occasionally invade, a priestess of whom becomes a major character in the second book.
John Brunner’s The Crucible of Time is notable for having every single character be a member of a particular non-humanoid alien race that is never fully described. The framing device sets the whole novel up to basically be a piece of educational historical fiction the aliens (who are the only sentient slife they know of) show their children, and thus it has as much information about alien anatomy as human historical fiction has about human anatomy, which is to say occasional vague and somewhat confusing allusions. My own mental image of them is something like a giant cricket, and I’ve seen fanart depicting them as variously fungoid or slug-like.
I would recommend it but for one thing: it explicitly equates religion with mental illness, since these particular aliens only have spiritual experiences when unwell and they always cause self-destructive behavior. Even as an atheist, I find that pretty unfairly harsh.
Also, it could do better in its treatment of women: there’s one rather problematic kidnap-and-alien-equivalent-to-Stockholm-Syndrome sequence, and also there’s just a general preponderance of men among major characters, with women a distinct minority.
Here’s a pretty decent review of it: http://www.tor.com/blogs/2009/07/alien-stars-john-brunners-the-crucible-of-time
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