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At Least No One Asks Where They’re From

8 July 2014

Cross-posted from The Molinist.
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Warning: This piece contains mild spoilers for both Game of Thrones and A Song of Ice and Fire and the trilogies The Prince of Nothing and The Aspect-Emperor. I’ve tried to restrict them to world-building and characters but plot spoiliers may have slipped through my net.

Fantasy, of course, is all about white people. The proper fantasy subject matter, we all know, is mighty lords in stout keeps with absurdly-large swords and fantastically unlikely social structures, encased in medieval stasis. The natural sort of people for this setting are Brits, Vikings, maybe Spaniards (no one actually knows what a Spaniard looks like). Also popular are Brits coated in a thin pastiche of medieval Frenchness, based primarily on WWII-era stereotypes and a general sense that there is a book called The Romaun of the Rose and also chivalry. After all, who is Ursula K. Le Guin, even? But in this age of political correctness and reasonably interesting human drama, it’s probably best to include some black people.

But how can you convincingly add black people to what is, after all, essentially medieval Europe? Black people hadn’t been invented yet. They can’t just be running around, looking different, that obviously never happened and it would seriously strain any reasonable suspension of disbelief. Sure, your fantasy has immortal, subterranean elf-dwarf people; eugenicist Kantian horned giants; and talking tree people but black people?! A bridge too far. They’ll have to come from somewhere: a single country that can also provide some sexy exoticness when needed. And so was born The Country of Black People…

Continued on The Molinist.

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