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MIND MELD MAKE-UP: Vylar Kaftan on Disabilities in Speculative Fiction

We have an additional entry on our Mind Meld on Disabilities in Speculative Fiction, from Nebula Award winning author Vylar Kaftan!

Q: What are some examples of speculative fiction titles where disabilities and disabled characters have been handled the right way? Are there specific disabilities that you’ve yet to see written into a speculative fiction story in a positive way?

Vylar Kaftan
Vylar Kaftan won both the Nebula and the Sidewise awards for her novella “The Weight of the Sunrise,” an alternate history where the Incan Empire survives into the 19th century. She’s published about 40 short stories in places like Lightspeed, Asimov’s, and Clarkesworld. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area and her website is

I think the Kaleidoscope anthology is worth mentioning here. It’s a new YA anthology focused on diversity in middle grade and YA fiction. Several stories include disabled characters (both mentally and physically).

I don’t have a specific disability that I’d like to see done well, but I do urge writers to research disabilities and get them right. This often means talking to more than one person. One of the common things with disability is that two people with the same medical condition can have very different experiences for other reasons, such as the intersection of two disabilities making it all worse, or the person’s financial ability to deal with the disability. It makes a big difference if you can afford truly accessible living space, for example, or to pack and carry all your own food everywhere you go.

About Andrea Johnson (99 Articles)
Andrea Johnson also blogs over at where she reviews science fiction and fantasy novels and talks about other nerdy stuff. She's also an interviewer at Apex Magazine. Her apartment looks like a library exploded, and that is how it should be.
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