Tag Archives: writing

Recognition of Fictional Ship Sentience While Denying Fellow Animal Sentience

In certain science fiction transcript sites, one sees the spectacle of inorganic or semi-organic space ships being referred to with she/her pronouns while human hybrids, fellow animals, and bipedal machine-based races are objectified, even non-canonically and colonialistically, and misgendered with it/its.

Similarly, a summary for a scifi novel tells of an inorganic ship that is given the same exceptional treatment, even going as far as giving the ship memories of pain and trauma, both physical and emotional. Yet, the same author also objectifies sentient fellow animals who most certainly feel fear, pain, happiness, and joy, and who want very much to live freely and free from harm. Even more puzzling is when the author is a LGBTQ+ advocate, yet props up the prejudiced and outdated use of objectifying pronouns for living beings, rather than normalizing the singular they/their for gender neutrality. All oppressions are interrelated.

This phenomenon is seen in scifi franchises such as Stargate, Lexx, and Farscape.

Why so much sympathy for a ship which doesn’t even exist and no sympathy for real-life, flesh and blood beings with whom we share life? Probable answer: There is not an agribusiness breeding bio space ships for human exploitation to brainwash people into objectifying the bio space ships, nor billions of dollars for advertising and government lobbyists to do it. Sympathy and nonviolence are the natural state of most humans. Only a small percent of the population are psychopaths.

The natural spark of sympathy for bio ships is what is the best within us. Extending sympathy to all living beings is a matter of expanding our circles of compassion, thereby promoting justice for all and reclaiming who we truly are inside.

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Dancing Around Ronon in Wraith Romance Fanfics

In the vast majority of Todd x John, Rodney, or Jennifer fanfics, one person is almost conspicuously absent or faded far into the background.

Not that I blame writers for doing so, especially writers of shorter works: dealing with Ronon’s racist attitude would throw a damper on the whole work and dash the romance.

Tackling such a problem would require a longer work.

Even then, Ronon’s attitude is so problematic, Wraith fan writers have a hard time trying to give him his own story of overcoming his prejudice and finding love again, with Amelia or a Wraith OC. Such stories are super rare and often discontinued, probably from writer blocks from dealing with the character. Writing OCs overcoming prejudice, both human and Wraith, seems easier than dealing with Ronon for some reason.

Seeing more stories of healing for Ronon would be great… if anyone feels up for a challenge. Until then, I don’t expect to see much of him around. πŸ˜›

Ageist Tropes About Women from Fairy Tales to Avoid

Many Stargate Wraith fans, the target age range for SGA being younger than SG1, grew up in the 80s and 90s and are mostly female. This means having been exposed to tropes of the eras, including cartoon princess films.

Most princess films feature young women who are coming of age as protagonists. But, guidance, wisdom, and care from previous generations of women are conspicuously absent. The princesses are often orphaned or their fathers never remarried. Worse, older women, if present, are often depicted as jealous rivals and villains out to harm the princesses, sometimes even misrepresenting Earth-based religions which honor age-accumulated wisdom.

Snow White – No positive mother role figure. Evil older woman antagonist.
Cinderella – No positive mother role figure. Evil older woman antagonist.
Ariel – No positive mother role figure. Evil older woman antagonist.
Rapunzel – No positive mother role figure. Evil older woman antagonist.
Belle – No positive mother role figure.
Jasmine – No positive mother role figure.
Aurora – Evil older woman antagonist.
Pocahontas – No positive female role figure (historical accuracy disputed).
(Fa Mulan, Merida, and Tiana, some of the newer princesses, thankfully break free from these tropes.)

This impacts Stargate fanfics when Queens are written out, are noticeably absent, and/or are presented as evil people out to harm all the male Wraith and the human worshippers (especially female human worshippers with fair hair). Casting all Queens this way while making a few OCs as tokens is still racist, sexist, and fits this trope.

The Legacy series books 1-8 fit the young princess trope, because all of the main Queens are fairly young and have no mothers. Death gives the impression she was orphaned and raised by racists such as Ashes. And, now if Death has a surviving daughter, her daughter will suffer her fate. While there would be Queens who have lost their parents due to the war with the New Lanteans and concurrent starvation-induced civil war, the books imply Wraith culture was always warmongering, as Alabaster losing her mother happened before the New Lanteans arrived and presumably Death as well to have been raised like that and dependent on Ashes. Canon is that the Wraith had 10,000 years of peace, cooperation, sharing databases, and not remembering how to fight a real battle. Genetic memories is also not canon for Wraith, that is Goa’uld, and is not a substitute for the wisdom of older women. There should be some Queens who still have their mothers around, but making Wraith warmongering is a way kill off a bunch of Queens and make it so Todd can find Alabaster (daughter) later and no Snow (mother).

Blanket statements sometime seen in fanfics against all Queens is sexist, is not canon, and ignores Queen Betty and Ellia and their peaceful cohabiting with humans as well as the other Queens who were defending their hives and cruisers, their homes, when the New Lanteans broke in and attacked them. What mother, sister, daughter, aunt, lover, etc. would not defend their homes and the lives of their subjects against those invaders? Who would have been there to teach Wraith males to love and respect females? Primary Akasha was nice to Queen Teyla and Todd told Queen Teyla to negotiate with the other hive, not attack. Also, Queens had to have been giving Todd, Boris, Dave, and other Commanders masked warriors, because where else will they come from?

Reading stories with racist/sexist tropes against older women made me feel disconnected, which is part of why I started writing my own fanfics and making my own OCs. I try to write characters of all age ranges for both human and Wraith and write Queens as anyone else: good and bad in every race and also capacity for change. Maybe it is the activist in me, because I see that younger activists benefit from the wisdom and guidance of older generations while older generations benefit from the excitement and desire to reach for more and more from the younger activists. We all need one another.

Fellow creatives out there, be aware of this young vs old, Princess vs Queen trope we were exposed to and include more positive living female role models of all ages.

Misused Words in Science Fiction: Sentient, Sapient, Intelligent, Speciesism, Uninhabited

In science fiction, one tends to see the same handful of words being thrown around, in which the writers 1) do not know the definitions of the words they are using and 2) attempt to misuse the words to prop up anthropocentrism, ableism, and speciesism, to try to alleviate guilt for needlessly harming fellow animals.

Let’s unpack these commonly misused words:

sentient – adj -able to perceive or feel things

This includes any beings who have nervous systems, ganglia, nerve nets, etc. This includes just about all fellow animals, with the possible exceptions of sponges, corals, anemones, and hydras.

Speciesists try to place a dividing line between various galactic anthropocentric races who mysteriously speak English and all other fellow animals, claiming other fellow animals can’t feel and perceive with their senses, ignoring their sensory organs (eyes, ears, etc) and reactions to sensory input, such as fleeing from danger, crying out, happy purrs, etc.

sapient – adj – 1) wise*, or attempting to appear wise, 2) relating to the human species ( Homo sapiens )
(*wise – adj – having or showing experience, knowledge, and good judgment.)

Definition 1: Speciesists try to place a dividing line between various galactic anthropocentric races who mysteriously speak English and all other fellow animals, claiming other fellow animals can’t have experiences, learn, and show good judgement, including growing hungry rather than see another shocked in cruel human-made lab settings . There are plenty of YouTube videos showing cows operating farm doors and watering spigots, dogs teaching puppies how to use steps, crows using tools (including a frisbee as a makeshift sled on a roof), bees teaching one another, etc. Language, tool use, and consciousness are not unique to human animals. The inability to speak English (or some other human language) is not a justification to harm someone (ableism) or assume they have no intelligence. Some humans can also be mute, for varying reasons, and there are also varying levels of intelligence and talents among humans. Also, fellow animals have abilities humans lack to make decisions with, such as sonar, 3D spacial processing from flight, and even possible telepathic image projection.

Definition #2: Non-human galactic beings who mysteriously speak English are often mislabeled sapient, but the definition should technically not be used to describe any beings other than humans and human hybrids– and still should not be used as a divider to treat others inequitably– only as a racial description and nothing more. Due to definition #2, I avoid this word altogether for its speciesist connotations of using humans as benchmarks to compare all other beings.

Besides, what intelligent species destroys their own planet? To a galactic visitor, seeing how too many humans treat each other, fellow animals, and the planet, to be labelled “sapient” and lumped in with humans might be an insult to them, not an honor.

intelligent -adj- having or showing intelligence, especially of a high level

Same as definition #1 above. Ableism again.

speciesism – noun- the assumption of human animal superiority leading to the exploitation of other fellow animals

Speciesists, ironically, misuse the word as a stand-in for racism among various galactic anthropocentric races who mysteriously speak English. Speciesism applies to all fellow animals, not just English-speaking, humanoid beings. One who shakes hands with ET and also eats the bodies and reproductive secretions of other animals is still speciesist.

uninhabited – adj- (of a place) without inhabitants
similarly: unpopulated

Specieists misuse this word to represent only galactic anthropocentric races who mysteriously speak English. If birds, turtles, insects, and other fellow animals live in a place, then, the place is *not* uninhabited. Only barren islands or worlds devoid of all life are truly uninhabited or unpopulated. Pristine or primeval are better adjectives for undisturbed worlds.

Now that you know the inherent biases and misuses of these words, be on the lookout for them and don’t be fooled.

Erasure of Conscientious Objectors in Entertainment

As a vegan viewer, the trope of seeing characters who don’t eat fellow animals being erased gets really old, really fast. Even shows aimed at children and teens are not exempt. The characters are usually given minor roles and usually vanish within an episode or two (Pria, Orville). Or, they were never really committed to begin with (Lisa, SGU), have bits of animal bodies snuck fed to them or they are forced to eat them (Rachel, Drew Carey; The Vegans; The Race) as jokes for speciesists in the audience, dress in false stereotypical clothing (The Vegans; The Race), and/or abandon their ethical commitments without preamble (Topanga, Boy Meets World).

But, watching Voltron Legendary Defender, and seeing so many of the Blade of Marmora being killed off made me realize progressives and conscientious objectors of all kinds are treated this way.

Stargate is no exception to this trope. Besides the Stargate Universe example above, Stargate SG1, Stargate Atlantis, and Stargate Origins have it worse:

*Todd’s crew in “Infection”

*Zaddik and Ellia

*Queen Egeria and the Tok’ra

*Niam and the other Asurans who want to ascend

*Queen Betty and her well cared-for worshippers

*Aset with her Harcesis child and kind ways of ruling

*Just about all the humans in Origins (who were diverse and tolerant of race, religion, and sexuality and truly exemplary and exceptional for that time period)

Stargate Infinity comes out relatively unscathed, as an exception, with a colony of Tlak’kahn conscientious objectors who peacefully share a planet with another race.

So, why does this keep happening in so many shows, even when humans stand to benefit?Β  Why are so many progressives and conscientious objectors erased or nearly erased to the point of being too small of minorities to tip a balance? These characters are true heroes!

Is it to enforce anthropocentric hierarchies that humans are separate, that peace can’t be had, that nothing can change for the good? What does that say about the state of humanity?

Why can’t humans, including writers of fictional characters, let nonviolent progressives and conscientious objectors live and show them the respect they deserve?

Maybe when human kind stops killing off other kinds, conscientious objectors will be allowed to exist more prominently in fiction.

Until then, I won’t let myself and my values be erased and I won’t let my favorite Wraith character of Todd’s crew be erased. I’m here. I’m not going anywhere. I’m putting up inclusive Wraith fanworks modeling nonviolence.

Is Kindle Unlimited Making Traditional Book Cover Art Obsolete?

According to a bestselling scifi author presenting at my local library, book covers are almost obsolete, at least for certain genres which are heavily read in digital format, such as scifi and romance.

He said customers only see thumbnails of the covers for 4.7 seconds, while deciding if they are going to read or buy the book on Amazon, then never again, as the eReaders open up to the first page of text, bypassing the cover art altogether.

Cover art for books within some genres have become near clones of one another, thrown together with stock images of silhouettes of people and cityscapes by artists who have not read the books and never will. The covers merely mimic the saturated color palettes and themes of whatever is currently selling well, meant toΒ  convey a genre– not characters or scenes from the actual books.

Covers only matter as quick marketing thumbnails and to have something colorful for printing a few copies of the books for cons or author fairs.

Are the covers being ignored because they are no longer relevant… or because they have all become too similar? Some of both?

As depictions of book characters become more rare, fanart seems all the more precious.

You know you are writing a Wraithy or scifi fanfic when…

… you keep having to add words to your spell checker, just to clear off all those red underlines!!!

Stargate, retrovirused, mindfeel, lifeforce, hivemate, all the names of your characters, etc. πŸ™‚

The joys of Wraithy writing. πŸ˜€