A big hello to everyone I met at Can*Con 2015 in Ottawa these past 3 days – both the people I met for the first time, and those who recognized me from elsewhere. (Sorry I couldn’t stay for the Sunday programming – I’m literally typing this on the train back home because I live quite a ways from Ottawa these days and have some work obligations on Monday.)
I promised book/story recommendations to everyone at the autism panel, and then we ran out of time for me to list more than a few – so, for the benefit of Derek Newman-Stille and everyone else who was interested, here’s a quick list of Stories With Well Written Autistic Characters Who Do Things Besides Being Autistic. (I think it’s very important, in addition to saying “here’s what we want more of,” to point out the people who have already been doing it.)
First, I will start with a few mainstream SF novels. Fitz Wahram in “2312” by Kim Stanley Robinson is an autistic person who does lots of cool things like being a future politician, solving a mystery, and having a romance with another (not autistic, but not neurotpical) character. Similarly, Kio Masada from “This Alien Shore” by C.S. Friedman is an autistic computer expert who comes from a planet where everyone is non-neurotypical in some way, and where their entire culture is structured around this. Both of these authors (IMO) write their characters very well.
Rose Lemberg has several short stories out this year, in her Birdverse setting, with well-realized autistic characters. “Grandmother nai-Leylit’s Cloth of Winds” contains a minimally verbal autistic child who is treated with respect by their family, while a major plot point in “Geometries of Belonging” involves an autistic teenager who successfully resists a family that wants to force them to be cured. Both of these were published in Beneath Ceaseless Skies.
Meda Kahn writes very hard-hitting short stories about autistic adults dealing with prejudice and institutionalization. Her stories “Difference of Opinion” and “That’s Entertainment” were both published in Strange Horizons.
Erika Hammerschmidt’s book, “Kea’s Flight”, centers around a group of autistic and otherwise non-neurotypical children being raised together on a spaceship.
Luna Lindsey’s short stories “Touch of Tides” and “Meltdown in Freezer Three” both have well-written protagonists in various places on the autism spectrum who do interesting jobs and have adventures.
Tina Gower’s short story “Twelve Seconds” is an interesting subversion of cure stories, starring an autistic man who works at a police department and who both benefits and suffers from the treatments and accomodations available to him.
Except for this last one and the two big books in the first paragraph, all of these were written by authors who are openly autistic themselves.
If you want more than this, the full list of books and stories I have reviewed – both positive and negative – is available here. If you want EVEN MORE, you might want to have a look at my Autistic Book List.