[GUEST POST] Special Needs in Strange Worlds: We Need Fiction to Tell the Truth by Stephanie Saulter
Stephanie Saulter writes what she likes to think is literary science fiction. Born in Jamaica, she studied at MIT and spent fifteen years in the United States before moving to the United Kingdom in 2003. She is the author of the ®Evolution trilogy; her first novel,Gemsigns, was published in the UK & Commonwealth last year and will be released in the US next month. Its sequel, Binary, has just been published in the UK. Stephanie blogs unpredictably at stephaniesaulter.com and tweets only slightly more reliably as @scriptopus. She lives in London.
Thank you, Sarah, for inviting me to contribute to Special Needs in Strange Worlds! I’ve been a reader of the series and a fan of the thinking behind it for some time now. I’m really pleased to be able to join the discussion.
I guess I’m qualified to do so on two fronts. I’m the author of the ®Evolution novels, which are set in a near future in which human beings have been altered, some extensively, by genetic modification. The books deal with ideas of diversity, prejudice, physical appearance, and how extraordinary abilities and/or disabilities affect people’s notions of what it means to be human.
My other qualification (which probably has a lot to do with why I’m interested in those issues in the first place) is one I share with many other contributors to Special Needs in Strange Worlds: intense personal knowledge of what it’s like to live with a disability. In my case that’s because of my brother, Astro Saulter. Astro has severe cerebral palsy; he has virtually no fine motor control and has never been able to walk, sit up straight, speak, or do much with his hands. Communication is either via a spoken alphabet system (he hates alphabet boards), or a specialised computer interface that he controls with a switch mounted on his wheelchair’s headrest – because his head is the only part of his body over which he has meaningful control. It’s painfully slow, but with it he can read, write, call me up on Skype (I talk, he uses the switch to type), surf the web…
And he can draw. Boy, can he draw.
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