Writing SFF in the Resistance


Chief Petty Officer Tyrol: “What do you want to do now, Captain?”
Lt. Kara ‘Starbuck’ Thrace: “The same thing we always do. Fight ’em until we can’t.”

“When I get mad I put it down on a pad.”–Chuck D, Welcome to the Terrordome

So back on Nov 9th I found myself in something of a daze. First it felt like a punch to the gut. I wasn’t sleeping well, and I was constantly tired. I barely ate. Momentary glimpses of bright thoughts were quickly swallowed by a looming darkness. It wasn’t until I was at an event with several other people, who were all describing the same hollowed out feeling, that someone pointed out what was happening.

“You’re in mourning,” she said. “It’s grief. And we’re all feeling it.”


That was it exactly. I could remember feeling this way only on one other occasion. When someone very close to me had died. It was that same lethargic sensation, of feeling drained and sapped of energy and will. But this was worse. Because unlike those times, where everyone reassured you that with time the feeling would pass, there was still that looming darkness–and it was only growing. A sickening understanding that the worst parts hadn’t even begun. A knowing that things were going to get much, much worse, before they ever got better. It was a gaping hole, a yawning abyss that was easy to tumble down if only because that (at least) offered an escape.

It felt like when the Ministry of Magic had fallen. Like when Darth Sidious had the clone troopers “execute Order 66.” Like when the Cylons marched into the settlement at Caprica City. It’s that part of the story when there seems to be no hope, when the odds seem insurmountable.

Ministry Has Fallen.jpg

Then I remembered, that’s not where these stories end. Resistance always sprouts–whether in the basement of Hogwarts, somewhere on backwater Tatooine, or among the last human survivors of New Caprica. Sure our looming dystopia will throw up challenges and spit out many-mouthed eldritch horrors. But we will fight. We always fight. It’s what SFF has taught us to do. It’s what storytelling has taught us to do. Why? The answer is simple. And we all know it. Neo told it to Agent Smith. We fight, because we choose to. Because we can.

The coming struggle will take many forms. It will be in the courts and in the streets. It will be in the workplace and in the entertainment arena. It will call for folks to organize and mobilize and challenge injustice, at great personal risk. And have no doubt, that it will be a struggle. As Frederick Douglass reminds, “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.”


So what part will writers and illustrators and comic book writers and creators of SFF play in this coming struggle? We writers of small people standing up against terrible Dark Lords? We dreamers of underdogs pledged to fight world-destroying interstellar empires? We creators of the smallest glimmer of hope in the darkest authoritarian futurist dystopias? We builders of worlds where a few determined heroes and heroines can tear down even gods?

That’s up to us. To decide to see this story through. To write and dream of that better ending. We’ve been shown the way. By early black writers who used SFF to confront the racial terror that threatened to swallow them. By the works of Afrofturist writer and activist Walidah Imarisha who calls for “visionary fiction” that uses “science fiction, horror, and fantasy genres to envision alternatives to unjust and oppressive systems.” By writers like Troy L. Wiggins who calls on artists to “create kickass art that challenges people,” for creatives and activists to strategize their collective resistance: because even the Lich King “can be taken down in a 25-player raid.”

So creators of SFF, those of us who choose to REBEL:





WRITE @#&%!-ly.








57 thoughts on “Writing SFF in the Resistance

  1. This was very inspirational, it gave me the idea that writing just might help with the emotions and feelings I currently have.

    • my mother passed away December 7, last month, I am so lost, this is encouraging for me as a journalist, a griever and an activist. I’m having a difficult time putting these feelings into words and into feelings. Thank you. Been trying to write the blog I started, got lost.

  2. Perfectly put! Often in times of difficulty it’s the creative world which blooms. People need an ideal to aim for, and a world to escape to, with characters to strive to be.

    Writers always reflect their context – I believe that the coming years will produce some of the most profound art.

  3. hope youse do write! writers have foreseen, influenced, warned and sustained us in the past and we will need of of that in a future that seems more ready to divide and take up physical action instead of arming themselves with the right code of conduct. time for quote again: https://blaustift.wordpress.com/2016/11/10/ideas-we-have-about-the-future/
    we need to aspire to higher aims and better places – and as we’re all sitting in the same boat – or spaceship – we’d better get along and make most of this precious diversity that is ours!

  4. As a Browncoat I’m strictly against the Alliance lol. I don’t know about everyone else but my future is looking pretty bright but I lstill vie reading about dystopian futures like Lord Valentines Castle and the Time Machine. The only one I hated was Huxley? I like this article though because this is the reason we write.

  5. Pingback: Writing SFF in the Resistance — Phenderson Djèlí Clark – ShayDbooks

  6. Wow this was marvelous….despite the overlooking Sadness of the theme, the writing was still able to hint on an unforseen but forthcoming hope that it’ll get better. I just started with this blogging thing and reading your bogs give me hope that I might just get the hang of it in no time.

  7. Pingback: Writing SFF in the Resistance | justceleste

  8. Pingback: Writing SFF in the Resistance | Petra Engisch

  9. YEA!! This is the punk-rock “down with the broken system” blended with the SF lit “here’s how we fight for a better world” post we need! ✊✌

  10. Brilliant. Just brilliant. Came across your wisdom at just the right time. Been considering the similar view on recent events. Reblogged this at PetraEngisch.wordpress.com. Thank you!

  11. I certainly sympathised with your piece, but don’t you think the current evil empire has been built by people who thought of themselves as rebels? That would make a good basis for a story, a relatively benign empire headed by a decent, erudite man, overthrown by a bunch of crazy rebels.

  12. Pingback: Writing SFF in the Resistance — Phenderson Djèlí Clark | Reggiebankssr's Blog

      • Hmmm… totally wanting a nice Iron Giant. But we got Blade Runner bots, I-robots, the Governator himself Terminator…Arnie on Celebrity Apprentice for reals… after all the hacking… so then what I mean is… what is Alexa doing in everyone’s home?
        I don’t want a Jetson’s cartoon come true!
        Or stepford wife bots…
        But I was asking someone the other day what does science fiction do now since it all came true and we can’t escape? So this article actually rocks, cuz I was pining for some happy sci-fi utopian types…like we can still be okay even in trump world.
        I don’t believe we are okay right now. But I am still
        hopeful. 🙂

  13. Thank you. I have been pondering whether this little spare time hobby of mine has become trivial. Clearly, it has not. Best, Scott

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