Interview with Kathryn Allan co-editor of Accessing the Future

Posted by on Sep 7, 2014 in Disability and or Neuro-diversity, General Discussions, Guest Posts, News | 0 comments

Today Kathryn Allan is here to talk about the upcoming anthology, Accessing the Future. Kathryn Allan will be co-editing the anthology with Djibril al-Ayad of Futurefire.net Publishing.

The anthology is intended to explore disability—and the intersectionality of race, nationality, gender, sexuality, and class—in both the imagined physical and virtual spaces of the future. Kathryn wants people of all abilities to see themselves, as they are now and as they want to be, in our collective human future(s). The campaign passed the minimum target this week, and is now closing on the pro-paying goal! You can pre-order the anthology and help the editors pay a professional rate to the authors here: igg.me/at/accessingfuture.

As well as editing fiction, you write and edit scholarship in the area of disability and science fiction. What is it about this topic that interests you?

I did my PhD dissertation on technology and the vulnerable body, a project that was strongly influenced by my experience with chronic illness. I came to science fiction as an adult (at 25) and while I was dealing with some serious health problems. While SF was a welcomed escape from dealing with my pain and fatigue, I couldn’t help but frame it within the theoretical lens of feminism (the dominant theoretical area in which I was working). I started wondering about the ways that technology genders bodies… and that led me to thinking about all of the other aspects of our relationship to technology. Since then, I’ve further refined my focus to specifically consider disability in SF (an underdeveloped area in SF scholarship), but I strive for intersectionality when possible (even if this results in difficult, messy readings). I want to hear a plurality of voices in the fiction I read.

Can you tell us about your interest with prosthetic technologies. What advances are you most intrigued by? What developments do you find problematic? How might these be addressed in speculative fiction?

I became interested in thinking about prosthetic technologies because my gateways into SF were Star Trek and cyberpunk. In both of those genres, technology is constantly being used to modify, augment, and repair the fleshy body (and mind). Most often, when a prosthetic was being used by a character, it was celebrated as a good thing, or at least, as something that made the character better. Like, even if the character was evil, the prosthetic made them better at being evil. That reductive view of prosthetic technology bothers me: the people that I’ve known with prostheses weren’t suddenly super human (or super evil). The prosthetic, in an every day context, is a tool. And like any tool, it both can benefit and hinder the user. I’m concerned about issues of access to prosthetic technologies: Who gets to use them? Do they want to use them or do they feel compelled to use them to appear “normal”? In SF, I want to read stories where prosthetic technologies are not reduced to being just one thing: a “cure,” a filling in of a perceived lack, an improvement, etc. SF can and should imagine all the potential benefits and pitfalls of prosthetic technology for and by the people who use them today.

Apart from pre-ordering the anthology, how can people who want to help get involved with the campaign to fund Accessing the Future?

Signal boosts of all kinds are welcome. The more tweets, Facebook shares, and blog posts that people put out there, the greater visibility our campaign receives. We’ve done a solid job of speaking to the SF community so far, but we need the signal to be going out every day in creative ways, and to other genre communities as well. One of the ways that people can also participate is through our blog hop—you reflect on a short series of questions about disability and power in a current/recent story that you’re writing (or reading). You can find out more information about the blog hop here: http://djibrilalayad.blogspot.ca/2014/08/blog-hop-accessing-future-fiction.html

To support the Accessing the Future anthology, check out the campaign at igg.me/at/accessingfuture.

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