Diversity in Fantasy and Science Fiction

My preferred genera is science fiction and fantasy, but I’ve noticed that all too often the characters are straight, white and heterosexual (and often male). I’ve always sought out well written female protagonists, but I’ve started looking for more diversity in these genera. Here’s some suggested books for those also looking.

I’ve tried to give a general description of the book or what the author writes so you can see if it’s what you might be looking for. I’ve also tried to mention which of these books are Young Adult, in case you’re looking for books outside that genera.

Note, I don’t have reviews for most of these. If I do, I’ll link to it. You can also check the tags “awesome female leads” and “inclusive” to find reviewed books, or you can go to my Goodreads account and look at the shelf “Strong Female Characters”.

Since there’s more than just the three types of diversity I have lists for, I’m creating a composite list here for protagonists who are diverse in ability/disability, religion, or age, all of which rarely represented in main stream science fiction and fantasy. If I read or find enough books in any one of these categories, I’ll create a new page for it.

I have found this searchable site of diverse speculative fiction, so I’d suggest checking that out.

Composite Diversity List

  • Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin has Bran, a boy who becomes paralyzed from the waist down. Also, Tywin who has dwarfism.
  • Fires of the Faithful deals with religion.
  • Hammered, a science fiction by Elizabeth Bear, has an older, 50 something, female protagonist with a prosthetic arm.
  • Terry Pratchett has a number of older fantasy characters who are at the center of their stories. See Granny Weatherwax for instance.
  • The Mirror Empire by Kameron Hurley has Lilith, a girl who’s missing most of one foot and has asthma.
  • Wintrow in The Liveship Traders, an epic fantasy trilogy by Robin Hobb, is training to be a priest.

Not Yet Read:

  • Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed is a fantasy world with Islamic influences and a protagonist in his 60s.

Related Links:

“Impossible Things: Redefining Ability and Disability in Genre Fiction” (article)

“Disability in Science Fiction” (Goodreads List)

Disabled Characters in Fantasy & Science Fiction” (Goodreads List)

“The God of Old Men: Religion, Age and The Throne of the Crescent Moon” (article)

“Evil Albino Trope is Evil” (article)

“Autism, Representation, and Success – Ada Hoffman” (article)

“Nobody’s Sidekick: Intersectionality in Protagonists” (article)

“Next Year in Jerusalem” (article on Jewish SFF)

“No More Dried Up Spinsters” (article)

“Science Fiction and Fantasy with Deaf Characters” (Goodreads list)

“Speculative Fiction with Heroines Who Are 40+” (Goodreads list)

“Autistic Book List” (list with links to reviews by autistic reviewers)

I’m obviously still working on this list. If anyone has anything to add, please comment!


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