SF/F good person of the day: Charles Tan

The hate continues to consume the science fiction and fantasy genre, including cross-over hate from our gaming cousins. So I've decided to continue my fight against this hate and intolerance by highlighting another good person who gives me optimism for the future of our genre: Charles Tan.

This is my first pick of someone I've yet to meet in person. But I've interacted with Charles so many times over the years through Twitter and online that it's easy to forget we haven't met. And it's simply impossible to imagine our genre without him.

For those who don't know Charles, he's edited Lauriat: A Filipino-Chinese Speculative Fiction Anthology, the Philippine Speculative Fiction Sampler, and the Best of Philippine Speculative Fiction 2009. He's also a fiction writer whose stories have appeared in Philippine Speculative Fiction and the anthology The Dragon and the Stars while his nonfiction has appeared in places like Fantasy Magazine, The World SF Blog, and SF Signal. 

One of the things I love about Charles' writing is he's very outspoken about the issues facing our genre, as in his most recent post "Understanding #Gamergate and Why it's Problematic." Charles' posts and essays are also extremely detailed and analytical, laying out the evidence until you understand exactly why he's making his larger point. When you combine this approach with his deep love of our genre, well, amazing things happen.

And Charles' deep love of SF/F is infectious. For example, a while back I discussed why I thought science fiction was more of a worldview than a genre, and asked others to share their SF worldview with me. Which was when I discovered that most people don't share my passion for deep analysis of genre issues. In fact, the general reaction from people was that it was irritating to even consider issues like this.

Not Charles Tan. He emailed me his insightful thoughts of the issue, which have stuck with me ever since. Here's what he said:

My world view is that fiction — whether you call it fiction, science fiction, speculative fiction — isn’t unique. In fact, I think the division between fantasy and science fiction is a lie — and often perpetuated by Western paradigms.

The value of fiction is that despite its conceits, despite its contrivances and window dressings, is its ability to convey a certain truth. One advantage of science fiction is that you have access to every tool, whether it’s metaphor, elements of romance and mystery, or the extremes of ‘what if?’. That’s not to say a writer successfully uses these tools, or that they should use ALL of them, but it is a useful option to have, unlike, say, Realism, which is confined by the tropes of what is mimetic.

Those are the words of someone who loves our genre and loves fiction and fully sees the true potential of all science fiction and fantasy can and could ever be.

Thank you, Charles, for all you do. And I hope one day to meet you in person.

Don't forget to check out my previous good person picks: K. Tempest Bradford, Maurice Broaddus, and Jim C. Hines.