In recent years, major SCI-FI franchises, such as the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Star Wars, and Star Trek, have started to include more character DIVERSITY of every kind. Let’s briefly consider a few streaming examples.
The Expanse has always been a show that tackled diversity head on, but never felt like it was trying too hard, perhaps in part because diversity is a part of the story itself. There’s something recognizable about the conflict between Earth, Mars and the downtrodden people of the Belt. The show takes place in our universe around 200 years from now, in a future where racism and sexism have become obsolete. Executive producer Naren Shankar explains: “We’re trying to really represent human beings, and to extrapolate, to the extent it’s possible with this kind of drama, where humanity might go, how ethnicities might mix, how people might look.”
STAR TREK PICARD
Diversity and inclusion have been cornerstones of the Star Trek universe since its humble beginnings. Despite this commitment to racial and gender diversity, it is rare to have human characters whose individual cultural heritage and ethnic background is truly central to their personhood. One refreshing exception: the character of Rios from Picard — Chilean, played by a Latinx actor named Santiago Cabrera, he speaks Spanish on camera regularly (with an accent) and uses a classic Spanish nursery rhyme to override his ship’s controls. Cultural heritage and background are central to his identity.
Creator David S. Goyer understood that adapting Foundation (originally published in 1942) meant making notable changes to better reflect today’s world, like switching the story’s key heroes — Gaal, who is Dr. Seldon’s apprentice, and Salvor, a leader of the colony tasked with compiling important human knowledge — from white men to Black women. “I was conscious of the fact that there were a lot of people that were underrepresented in a lot of these sort of seminal works,” he explains. “I knew that I wanted this show to break through not just the hardcore fans, but to everyone.” He also assembled a diverse writers’ room — comprised of a majority number of women and people of color.
THE SURVIVAL TRILOGY
In Book 1 A GLEAM OF LIGHT, the central storyline draws its diverse inspiration from Hopi Mythology — with the concept of Guardianship given to each of four human races: red, yellow, black, and white. Chapter 9, “Spirit Woman”, lays out the specifics:
“Long ago, the Great Spirit came down and gathered the peoples of this world together on an island which is now beneath the water.
“To the Indian people, the red race, he gave Guardianship of the Earth.
“To the South, he gave the yellow race Guardianship of the Wind.
“To the West, he gave the black race Guardianship of the Water.
“To the North, he gave the white race Guardianship of the Fire.”
Diversity in the TRILOGY flows naturally from this point forward.
Book 1 A GLEAM OF LIGHT explores Native American Mythology as the protagonist, UNA WATERS, half-Hopi government agent from D.C., is summoned to the land of her birth when the U.S. Army invades the Sacred Peaks of Hopiland.
Book 2 THE DRAGON’S GLARE explores Asian American Mythology as UNA finds herself on special assignment to investigate unexplained violence in Chinatown, New York City, where she discovers a deep-seated connection with Tibetan immigrants.
Book 3 BEYOND THE WORLD explores African American Mythology as UNA, briefly stranded on her honeymoon adventure in Yosemite, uncovers a UFO mystery (with help from Explorer Club members of the Kikuyu Tribe) that leads to an Alien Conspiracy.
(The White Race, not forgotten, plays a significant role in the events of Book 3.)
THE SURVIVAL TRILOGY empowers Women and People of Color, appealing to viewers Worldwide. As the Authors, it is our greatest hope to see this story successfully adapted to the screen — perhaps even as a TV Mini-series … streaming one day soon on Amazon Prime.