Even if you haven’t read A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin, you’ve probably heard the name Tyrion Lannister thrown around a bit. Tyrion is, dare I say it, one of the most memorable, compelling characters in current epic fantasy. In fact, he is so compelling that I’ve had to make a stipulation on my Special Needs in Strange Worlds guest posts: Please do not talk about Tyrion Lannister. He is a fantastic character, but if I let everyone talk about him, that’s the only person anyone will ever talk about. (Full disclosure: I have also had to make that rule about Miles Vorkosigan, but I haven’t read those books yet so I’m not really qualified to talk about him.)
Speculative Fiction is a genre that has a tendency to overcompensate for disabilities. Some common examples are the blind person who is also a seer. There’s the guy with an injured leg that just happens to have superhuman strength or an abnormal level of loyalty; and the character everyone thinks is insane but actually sees the truth of all things. These are just a few of the common tropes dealing with disability that I run across frequently in my books. While I understand the need for authors to have an “in” regarding some of these abilities, or give their readers a reason for them to exist, it often makes me wonder if these disabilities even matter in the grander scope, as they are so overshadowed by the character’s incredible, implausible abilities.
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