A Quote from Ursula LeGuin on the Earthsea TV Adaptation

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“My color scheme was conscious and deliberate from the start. I didn’t see why everybody in science fiction had to be a honky named Bob or Joe or Bill. I didn’t see why everybody in heroic fantasy had to be white (and why all the leading women had “violet eyes”).

It didn’t even make sense. Whites are a minority on Earth now—why wouldn’t they still be either a minority, or just swallowed up in the larger colored gene pool, in the future?

The fantasy tradition I was writing in came from Northern Europe, which is why it was about white people. I’m white, but not European. My people could be any color I liked, and I like red and brown and black.

I was a little wily about my color scheme. I figured some white kids (the books were published for “young adults”) might not identify straight off with a brown kid, so I kind of eased the information about skin color in by degrees—hoping that the reader would get “into Ged’s skin” and only then discover it wasn’t a white one.”

Can we live in fantasy? Oftentimes, it seems like we cannot. But I know that there are many out there challenging the norm, and that makes me glad. 

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5 thoughts on “A Quote from Ursula LeGuin on the Earthsea TV Adaptation

  1. Pingback: A Quote from Ursula LeGuin on the Earthsea TV A...

  2. A most excellent quote, and one I’ve made many times, particularly when it comes to sci-fi that depicts humanity in the far future, like Star Trek or Legion of SuperHeroes, where it appears to be predominantly White. There should be a lot more People of Color (especially Asians) in that type of fiction.

    • Yes. One of the most glaring instances of the warped public perception re: this phenomenon is the recent backlash to Rue being black in the Hunger Games film. It’s really disconcerting when white fans just assume that every story features or is solely about them.

      Quick question, though: Why “especially Asians”?

      • Demographics. 60% of the world’s human beings are Asian..The most common “first language” in the world is Mandarin Chinese, and then Spanish, followed English. That’s today, in 2013. So by the time we get to the 23rd century of Star Trek, the human race is going to be a lot less Whiter than what they show in the movies and TV shows.

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