South Asian Spotlight — Inosh, writer, discusses Beyond the Basics of Diverse SFF

Hello again everyone and welcome back to another post in the Spotlight! Inosh is a South Asian writer and is now here on the blog to talk “Diverse SFF: Beyond the Basics”. They are also on Twitter at @Morallygreylost so don’t forget to follow them there!

This October, the blog is featuring many voices from the South Asian community, so if you seem to have missed out on the previous posts, check out South Asian Spotlight!

Diverse SFF: Beyond the Basics

SFF has been a genre that stretches bounds–both in imagination and society. With the influx of diverse writers in the SFF space, we have been blessed with narratives that challenge our very perception of society and history. They take vast concepts like colonialism and intergenerational trauma by the horns to tell a stories from silenced perspectives.

The Poppy War is one of the many examples of novels that do this; bold and fierce, RF Kuang draws our attention to the impact of Japanese imperialism and European colonialism in this unflinching historical fantasy. But undeniably, The Poppy War and other breakout diverse SFF books are and mostly continue to be stories of our pain. This is not to discredit the importance of such stories but we, as people, are more than just our pain.

Instead of stories about our life and existence, publishing seeks to sell stories of our pain, neatly packaged to be consumed by an overwhelmingly white audience. While these diverse stories have gained traction, so has the pushback against them, especially when they explore nuance and refuse to cater to the Western reader. As always, marginalized authors are required to prove they’ve earned their place and that they deserve to be here, every step of the way.

The Quagmire of Essentialism

The problem of constantly needing to justify the need for diverse perspectives that showcase the rich and complex lives of non-white people in SFF leaves us trapped in the quagmire of essentialism. Writers are constantly writing to prove that marginalized people deserve to be here, that our stories are needed and worth it. And no, I will not waste space justifying why our stories matter. Our predecessors have already done that and laid the groundwork. Now, it’s time for us to take control of the narratives that seek to box us.

I propose a simple solution to it. It’s time we accept diverse narratives from historically disenfranchised authors matter and move ahead with our lives and stories. I know colonialism is bad, tell me more about it, explore the lives and societies of the colonized with a nuanced lens, and push boundaries. That is what SFF is here for. I’ve already read Edward Said and Gayathri Spivak, so don’t quote them back to me. Instead, I want writers to explore these themes with all the multifaceted tools the genre arms us with.

So my writers of diverse SFF, there’s nothing wrong with sticking to the basics but there’s great joy in exploring beyond it. I hope, in the future, we get to see more fearless stories in SFF!


Inosh K Rukman hails from Sri Lanka—a country known for its tea and sandy beaches but more recently, revolutions. They dabble in all genres but harbor a deep love of SFF and speculative fiction. An avid consumer of stories, he can often be found buried in books, animes and K dramas. Inosh goes by They/He and you can find him tweeting about his novel writing struggles on Twitter @Morallygreylost!


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