Let’s face it, when it comes to the SFF umbrella there are plenty of characters we see over and over again. Fantasy and science fiction are awash with royals, assassins, rebels, thieves and soldiers–and I don’t have a problem with that at all!
There’s a reason those characters are so popular, after all, and I will forever be weak for stories about rebellions, thieves and soldiers. Sometimes, though, I’d love to see more characters at the centre of SFF novels that are often either side characters or characters that don’t appear at all…
I know this probably sounds odd, but I’m fascinated by the history of sex work. I’d love to read more stories set in brothels, in these spaces inhabited by women who know that sex sells better than anyone, and I’d love to see more sex workers taking lead roles in the SFF genre because I think they’re characters that have been done a disservice thus far.
They’re either treated like a series of holes for someone’s penis – looking at you, Game of Thrones – or they’re tragic figures who have to sell their bodies to survive. I don’t want to imply for one moment that the history of sex work is full of women (and men, and enbies) who lived happy lives, because there are plenty of people in the past and today who have been sold into sex slavery and never actually see any of the money they earn anyway.
There are also people, however, who do this work because they enjoy it. That might be hard for us to understand when we live in a society that pushes the sex = love way of life, and this idea we have that sex for money can’t possibly mean sex with consent, but that’s not true, and I think there’s so much about consent that could be explored in SFF if we had more characters involved in sex work. Like Inara in Firefly, whose job is treated with the same amount of respect that everyone else’s job is.
Where are all the celebrities in fantasy books? We have royals and thieves and assassins but, if we’re in a fantasy world that doesn’t have the kind of technology we’re used to, wouldn’t this world still have incredibly popular actors on the stage? If they’re more modern fantasies, or science fiction, where are the kinds of celebrities we’re used to seeing in our own world?
In all honesty I always assumed that I wouldn’t enjoy reading about celebrities, but reading The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo has proved that I do love reading about actors–especially actors in the Golden Age of Hollywood. I’d love to follow actors in fantasy, though. Are elves tired of seeing humans with fake ears portraying them in the world’s media? Do sirens and banshees dream of making albums but can’t because they’ll accidentally kill their listeners? Are there discussions about whether or not dwarf women should keep their beards in the modelling industry? I need to know!
Imagine this: an estate agent who specialises in haunted houses. That is all.
Someone please give me a novel about a lawyer who has to work with supernatural/fantastical creatures. What if two parents in a fairy tale village each made a bargain to sell their unborn child to a different witch? They need a lawyer to decide who gets the baby. Or maybe genies need some help sorting out the small print of their wish-making policy?
On a more serious note, though, we can understand a lot about different worlds by the way their legal system works, and the perfect way to understand a new legal system is to follow someone who works closely with it!