Moreover, even traditional well-known Western fiction has had diversity in characters. I am Indian, and off the cuff, can recall the following "historical" Indian figures/settings in Western scifi:
- Captain Nemo, in "20000 Leagues Under the Sea", was the erstwhile Maharaja of Bundelkhand, India
- "Around the World in 80 days" - Phileas Fogg, the main character, rescues and later marries an Indian, "Aouda".
- The programmer of HAL 9000 in 2001: A Space Odyssey, is Dr. Chandra, from UIUC
- One of the most famous antagonists in the Star Trek universe is Khan Noonein Singh, a Sikh character
- One of the five scientists in Carl Sagan's "Contact" is Indian (Devi?)
- "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" by Robert Heinlein has Agra, India as a pivotal plot venue.
* TOS has been on the forefront of this with basically the whole bridge crew beeing a commercial for space diversity, even going so far as having a russian officers during the cold war on the bridge.
* The first Chief engineer of the TNG Enterprise was an Indian only to be replaced by Geordi La Forge (a blind black man).
* DS9 dealt with race and diversity on so many levels, i can't even begin to count.
* VOY just happened to have a very diverse crew, it was never explored much just...accepted?
* ENT same as voyager just a little less "on the nose"
In 60s, captain (aka main hero) had to be postercard white american, no way around it. TNG had a caucasian french captain (played by british actor, tells something about what creators thought about audience). DS9 had an african-american captain. Voyager a woman.
And indeed, it is even stated at one time (albeit possibly by an unreliable character) that women _could not be Starfleet captains_.
Novels are a whole different story, though; Clarke, le Guin etc were very much more progressive.
It's always tricky, introducing more progressive social ideas to a broad audience. You want to open minds without alienating them.
(Though it's interesting that TOS, by including a Klingon and an android in the bridge crew, illustrated the in-universe diversity of Starfleet without doing much for IRL casting diversity.)
I suppose I have to admit that having a blind man in TOS was progressive. And having black, female, and finally black female protagonists (DS9, Voyager, Discovery) was a series of steps forward. Still damn disappointing that we had to wait 'til the last few years to get openly gay recurring characters.
The Indian character you mention wasn't the first (or particularly senior) .
James Corey - The Expanse - main characters include Indian, Polynesian, whole premise of the book is "nationality" conflict. Belters especially.
Jemisin - The Broken Earth trilogy - again, different looking people as main characters, racial conflicts and so on.
Ann Leckie - Ancillary series - ambiguous gender characters as main characters, racial conflicts etc.
I'd say that western sci-fi is rather progressive in character diversity.
> Well-known artistic depictions of the future [...] showing a marked lack of diversity.
Black Panther was a purely american product, Comic book superhero is the most stale and rehashed sub-genre of science-fiction from the last century, and this author uses it to show a "blossoming" of new diverse and imaginative production from "around the world"?
Afrofuturism, reaching back from W. E. B. Du Bois with The Comet to Black Panther, Nnedi Okorafor, ALL of them american products, would not be considered the "West"? African-american culture is not western?
> “But this phenomenon, which is now making its voice heard from areas like China or Africa, also has a much longer history that precedes today’s boom.”
This whole article seems to be written from the point of vue of someone who have been blind for decades, discovering that other culture exists all around. Reaching outside their bubble seems progressive and forward-thinking, but this surprise and this impression of being so avant-gardiste only serves to show how bigoted they were for so long.
> Well-known artistic depictions of the future have traditionally been regarded as the preserve of the West, and have shown a marked lack of diversity.
I can appreciate the prudent use of "well-known" here, because science-fiction has been extremely diverse and progressive from the beginning. If anything however, there is a backlash from alt-right cliques to colonize the genre, with the recent attempts to subvert the Hugo Awards. This seems to go against the narrative of this article, but I think this is more important (and disturbing). That Cixin have won the award recently does not mean that science fiction is becoming more diverse, only that foreign authors have been welcomed into the fold.
So typical, the only boom that matters is the one playing into the US cultural codes, one face of imperialism. Only there it is pretending to be diversity.
The trilogy had some nice ideas, but it seems more like an exploration of the cosmic sociology than of a real story, which got quite tiring after a certain point for me. Though, I think I'm just not the type for trilogies, I favor concise existential literature over world-building.
Also, although its ostensibly a 'super hero' movie, there isn't actually any super hero stuff in it (e.g. innocent people being saved from falling lifts, burning buildings etc). Its a sci-fi story about who rules a super-advanced african nation, and what their foreign policy should be.
Of the very crude, beat-you-to-the-head-without-subtlety variety, when it comes to sci-fi.
This is what a lot of the purveyors of politically correct SF don't seem to understand.
Superheroes go all the way back to Ancient Greek stories of gods and demigods, or even some of the Old Testament prophets, the stories are still read today and are clearly structurally similar. The idea that superheroes are a modern American invention is just ludicrous.
No, they don't. Heroes and gods/creatures with special powers indeed are ancient.
Superheroes are a specific thing, within a specific culture.
It's not only that ancient gods didn't were spandex, it's a whole lot of cultural preconceptions and genre characteristics that define the superhero stories (not to mention the way those are produced and consumed).
I even like the last part of Seveneves!
Reamde wasn't very good though.
And if we dig deeper even science fiction like Star Trek represent their "originating" society, for instance while ST clearly represent an "international" future they represent it as USA-style-centric vision, that's is the starfleet. The same they represent a not-really-free society because yes there is no need to work and anybody seems to be happy, but anything goes around "starfleet" or around a military apparatus, not a democracy.
Well the societies are free by our modern, humanist standards. Just one of many examples: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hdXTohdKcm4
The whole "everything goes around starfleet/military" is basically just bad writing, but very much against what the future of star trek wants to project.
Do you really see freedom in a hierarchy? Yes, characters seems to be free, but basic of ST society is all but a military dictatorship not a democracy, so they are the USA that formally have elections and are a democracy but in practice they have a corporatocracy that use money, media power to steer the society and single citizen have a very little weight... Consider only the real purpose of many aspect of electoral system across the western world. The most "democratic" was the Swiss one, followed by modern German one, only because of nazi fear I think, classic Italian one was in a similar shape before actual series of reform, French the same before recent ('90s era) transformations. Why for instance have "primary elections"? Why not say simple "anyone who collect around 0.1% of voter's signature can be a candidate and all of them will go to the final election? Why not having a sovereign parliament without any "majority prize" etc and a nominated government that have to face the parliament without any veto power? Few country have or have had it and they was or they are well and powerful.