Scientist involved in medical research and Science Fiction and Fantasy author, Alison Sinclair is an author with diverse interests. I was lucky enough to encounter her work when it was recommended to me by a colleague, Cathy Schoel, because of my research on disability in Canadian Speculative Fiction. Sinclair’s Darkborn series features a world where half of the population is blind, and as someone who is interested in representations of disability, I found this absolutely fascinating. She was able to challenge a lot of the assumptions about disability in our world, posing questions to readers about the treatment of people with disabilities. I consider myself very fortunate to have now had the opportunity to talk to Alison Sinclair after looking at her work through a disability studies lens.
In our upcoming interview on Friday February 21st, Alison Sinclair talks about silencing the inner censor that can prevent creative explorations, the relationship between science and science fiction, the power of good fiction to alter people’s assumptions and frame of reference, developing a complete fantasy world by exploring a different environment and different people’s norms, effectively writing a blind culture and considering the social relationships of disability, the dramatic and character development potential inherent in stigma, and the uses and abuses of stigmatised people by those in control. Sinclair discusses the power of Speculative Fiction to question taken for granted social norms and propose alternatives to the way we view the work.
Here are a few teasers from our upcoming interview:
Alison Sinclair: “I’m afraid my CV might be best explained by my having seen the job I wanted at the age of nine and refusing to accept I’d been born 300 years too soon to become the science officer on a starship.”
Alison Sinclair: “Once I started writing science fiction, I could start building the science I knew into the stories.”
Alison Sinclair: “One of the most enjoyable parts of writing for me is trying to shift reference frames, whether it’s an individual character or a whole society. I want, as much I can, to capture the sense that people have that their way of living is the normal way to do it.”
Alison Sinclair: “I suspect I came to use stigma for a number of reasons – it’s dramatically useful, because it imposes constraints on power, breeds conflict and jeopardy and ensures characters with gifts don’t have too easy a time of it.”
Alison Sinclair: “When I made up my own worlds, I could make them ones in which the principle of equality was non-negotiable.”
Alison Sinclair: “My personal view is that the role of science fiction and fantasy is less to critique the status quo than to explore the alternatives, both desirable and undesirable.”
Alison Sinclair: “In SF any and all givens are up for change, provided the writer can make a story out of it.”
Alison Sinclair: “The experience that shows up most persistently in my work is of being an immigrant. Mine’s a more subtle dislocation than most, since I was not crossing boundaries of race, language, or religion, but there were distinct differences in social norms and expectations.”
Alison Sinclair: “The paradigm Sinclair character is the one who has started in one place and ended up in another, and who lives with the perpetual unease of having come from somewhere else, if he or she is not actually caught between two worlds.”
I hope that you enjoy our upcoming interview and all of the questions that Sinclair raises about the relationship between speculative fiction and society.
If you have not had a chance to read Alison Sinclair’s work yet, you can explore her website at http://www.alisonsinclair.ca/ .
You can check out a review of her novel Darkborn at https://speculatingcanada.wordpress.com/2012/07/10/blind-magic/