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Monday, October 5, 2009

Disablity in fiction and fantasy

As the night creeps in and I prepare to turn down so I can sleep tonight I think about a few things.

I recently read this post about Tony Stark the protagonist in Iron Man, it inspiried me to write my own post disablity and fantanstic fiction.

The thing with fantansy fiction is that it's geared to be wish-fulfilment. So having characters with realstic disablities is almost non-existant. In other fictions disabled character have better chances to get recognized and regaurded with respect and realism.Fantansy seems to avoid this.

Case and point is Toph from Avatar. Now while many like Toph, her disablity is really her greatest strength. Same could be said about T.A Barron's Merlin and Daredevil. All three's blindness is really a non-issue. Rarely in fiction do we have disablities that bring the character's potentional out and still be a disablity.

This is problem caused by the concept of "stigma" and the fact having a disablity is "bad" so many author dick-dodge this by adding a disablity that either a non-issue or a strength or tacking on a social disablity that is accepted, like acholism. But without making anything realistic or believable, it becomes quirky and a nuance than a real problem or flaw. I've seen this in fanfics and in published fiction, RP as well. I inciated a rule 'Don't give your character a disablity unless you have some knowledge other than the internet, have this disablity or have family that have it." In RP I exercise this rule often making sure people don't tack on schizofriena without understanding it or DID. I have made this mistake before and I have learned from it. Hopefully others will learn it too.

With my own characters I try to balance things. Not all of my disablied characters have an ASD, currently only "Tikaani, and the 'Leauge of Mistfits" have ASDs, Chiko is another that is questionable as is Sekar. They are more or less unintentional Aspies. I do have others that have disablities, Chiko is missing his left arm and Anil is deaf and Pema is blind (yes these all fan-benders airbenders actually) I have another blind character named Atlas. He is a wolf-alien that lost his sight in war and is bitter anthrophobic man that uses heat vision relayed from his nose to 'see' he was retired three years ago. Asher also lost his arm and was given a cyberized one. Those are the more obvious disabled characters.

Now I did have a character with an addiction, Serhyph was pretty fun but complex character. If it wasn't for the fact he was non-human with a hyper immune system he would have been dead with either AIDS or something else. He was a junky for psychedelics and used it to tain his blood to prevent vampires draining it since his blood is restorative and hemovores enjoy eating it. It also adds powerful boost into spell casting. It ends up nearly getting himself killed, he back-stabbed two elite elven leaders and nearly got his best friend murdered though his 'nee' to get high. They way I intended Serhyph to be played was a bit of a satire on the mythology in which he was based on. Serhyph is a unicorn-faun. So the whole drug addiction poisioning himself was bit irony for people who know the whole "pure hearted' deal unicorns get.

To conclude, fiction is a great medium for showing how disablities act in social contexts. Problem is, many are skewed. I am trying to show that having disablity isn't "bad" as so much 'part of life'. And how you react to it is how it's acts in your life. Serhyph dies eventually. And Tikaani becomes a shaman. Chiko dies of old age and Pema gets blown up. Life goes on. Storytelling should be more reflecting on real life than wish-fulfilment. Disablities and autism especially shouldn't be short changed or downplayed. They need to be 'real' in the story, in order to really touch people in real life.


  1. True. I have an autistic character (main) in a story I'm writing. She falls in love with someone who doesn't have autism so that should be a challenge to write as I do not want to make it stereotypical, but I want to make it good
    really good
    With a bit of my synesthesia thrown in.
    The main character discovers she's has Asperger's and feels relieved instead of miserable. It's going to be third person through her perspective because she likes to think in third person and narrate all the time and her girlfriend will be first person for some reason.

  2. The thing you need to be aware of when writing "Disabled/Abled" is that you can't focus on the disablity and not make it to big of a hurdle. A couple examples is when my character Chiko who is an amputee has a relationship with Pema who is blind. They both have a lot of simularites, but causualities of a genocide, gain disablities through war, and both wanted companion ship. They fell apart not because Pema couldn't see or because Chiko needed his left arm. But because Pema was too religious and Chiko was something of an atheist.

    You need to look at the big picture instead of the details. :3