Fantastic & Speculative Ability

The start of a public centralization of an on-going project looking at disability representation in media, with a particular focus on SF/F literature.  This page (and the project itself) is a work in progress, content in the near future may range from minimal to disorganized as I figure out the best way to organize this information.  Among other things, I'm not 100% sure if I'm happy with how I'm listing titles (plus just generally being behind on adding books to the list).  The list of problematic representation has the potential to grow ridiculously out of hand... I also want to apply a tagging system at some point, so we'll see how that goes.

This started as an active project in preparation for Arisia 2016, and has grown in a short time into something I'm talking about at conventions and professional conferences.  It's a huge, sprawling, complex topic that is very close to my heart, so please bear with me as I try to build this into something.

Presentations & Professional Activities

Work within and tangential to this project.


Blogs, resources, articles, and scholarly publications on the subject of Disability Representation in media.

Titles (In Progress) 

Please note, titles listed here are for discussion purposes, and not a judgement otherwise on the quality of the book (or even the enjoyment I took from reading it).  While my focus and goal is positive representation, problematic representation is hard to escape and is a legitimate part of this discussion.  Ultimately, this will probably end up as separate pages for each instead of a segmented list.  General updating the list is going slow due to needing to translate and codify my handwritten notes in to a review, as well as needing to reread books to give them the best possible treatment.

Positive Representation

Baker, Mishell.  Borderline.  Saga Press, 2016.
Urban fantasy noir with fae.  Main character is a double amputee and has Borderline Personality Disorder.  Very few named non-disabled characters, handles prosthetics and BPD realistically and respectfully.  First of a series.

Charleton, Blake.  Spellwright.  Tor, 2010.  (Review)
A magic system where you literally spell plus dyslexic casters.  First of a trilogy.

Friedman, C. S.  This Alien Shore.  DAW, 1998. (Review)
Nearly all of the main characters are non-neurotypical, including a well-handled multiplicity and a society with neurodiversity at their very core of their culture.

Quick, Matthew.  The Silver Linings Playbook.  Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2008.
Story centers on Pat, a man released from a psychiatric ward at the start of the book and who is fixated on winning back his wife, whom has a restraining order on him after he brutally beat her lover.  Pat tellS the story as he experiences it and the confusion that comes from the frisson between his perception and events as they actually occur.  Multiple primary characters handling diagnosed (and undiagnosed?) mental illnesses, and romance between characters with mental illness.

Scalzi, John.  Lock-in.  Tor, 2014.
SF police procedural with accessibility, disability rights, and accessible technology at it's core.  Narrator interacts with the world through an android or via a virtual reality.

Sinisalo, Johanna.  The Core of the Sun.  Translated by Lola Rogers, Grove/Black Cat, 2016. (Review)
A must-read for fans of The Handmaid's Tale, set in an alternate historical present Finland 'eusistocracy' that revolves around public health and social stability, and where women are bred for beauty and subservience.  The synesthetic narrator is a lovely and intelligent woman with an addiction to capsaicin, an substance ruled as illegal under the eusistocracy.

Mixed Representation

Moon, Elizabeth.  The Speed of Dark.  Orbit, 2002.  (Review)
This is probably the first book I read with a non-neurotypical narrator, and it left an impact on first reading.  Much of the book makes for excellent representation, but the ending is largely considered problematic, as an oddly executed cure narrative or wish fulfillment by the author.

Problematic Representation

Callihan, Kristen.  Evernight.  Forever, 2014.
Steampunky historical paranormal romance.  Holly Everknight suffers from agoraphobia, but only when it's dramatically appropriate.  Will Thorne has undefined violent "madness" that's cured by Holly's touch.


Accessing the future: a disability themed anthology of speculative fiction /

Hammered / Elizabeth Bear
Libriomancer / Jim C. Hines
Multiples / Robert Silverberg
Nexus / Ramez Naam
On the edge of gone / Corinne Duyvis
The rest of us just live here / Patrick Ness
Updraft / Fran Wilde
Waldo / Robert Heinlein


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