Illustrations: Dani Pendergast

These Artists Are Decolonizing Science Fiction

A handful of publishers and film distributors are finally catering to a large and growing audience of color

Kyra Kyles
Published in
9 min readDec 19, 2019

WWhether set in the lush, turquoise plains of an Earth-like planet several centuries in the past, or rooted in an artificial intelligence-dominated apocalypse 50 years into the future, there are common threads within science fiction and fantasy.

Imaginative realms.

Epic adventures.

Fervent fandom.

And let’s not forget the most common thread of all: a world-building perspective that is overwhelmingly White and male.

Though things are changing, a Euro-centric (some might even call it colonizer) canon serves as the majority viewpoint in the field, impacting even the film and television adaptations of popular novels. For example, HBO juggernaut Game of Thrones featured plenty of White kings and queens clashing amid flame-breathing dragons and wizened White Walkers, but offered little to deepen the series’ superficial and stereotypical storylines about Brown people. Yet even devoted fans of color reeled when they saw the cinematic portrayal of that world’s bronze, enslaved populations liberated by an ivory-skinned, ice-blonde-haired heroine named Daenerys Targaryen.

Looking ahead to 2020, despite a bevy of writers releasing or publicizing science fiction and fantasy that centers on people of color, some of the most-anticipated fantasy realms remain whitewashed. Yet, there is hope. A handful of enlightened publishers and film distributors are catering to a large and growing audience of color and our allies — despite the Reddit-fueled complaints of toxic fandom. From a Black director and a Native American writer for Star Wars to the pro-Black centeredness of HBO’s Watchmen, we are finally decolonizing all facets of sci-fi.

“Y“You grow up thinking you have to write stories about White men,” says writer Nicky Drayden, who set her stories The Prey of Gods and Temper: A Novel in an alternate South Africa and Cape Town, respectively.

“Half the time, these folks who think they own fandom aren’t even close readers or careful…



Kyra Kyles