Personal Essays Introduction

And so it is. Disabled People officially join Women, Queers, and People of Color currently destroying science fiction. Why, oh, why are we ever bound to destroy that which we love most? 

Disabled folks love science fiction, did you know that? This personal essay section exists purely because we love science fiction. Because disabled authors and activists and bloggers and journalists and fan writers love science fiction so much that they wanted to help us raise money to make this special issue of Uncanny.

So, they wrote for us. They gave us deeply individual and intimate narratives about the stories and characters and universes, the interplanetary vessels and alternate timestreams they loved most. And you folks out there, you loved these essays in turn, and you gave us what we needed to make Disabled People Destroy Science Fiction. Thank you.

Each and every one of these personal essays is about love. Even where that love is complicated, and mixed with a fair amount of frustration, a healthy dose of distrust. Every essayist in this section is here because science fiction is the generation ship they call home. They believe it’s a ship big enough to house us all, and built well enough to bear some remodeling.

We can have wider transporter doors, ramps in the engine room, Braille on the bridge, stimulation-sensitive lights in all the sleep pods. More importantly, we can have ship’s captains who give their orders in ASL or mechanics who require communication devices and prosthesis.  It’s our ship, too. We’ve always been a part of the population, mixed right in with all the abled folks, drifting along toward that new homeworld. We belong here. These personal essays contain everything we love (and hate) about living aboard ship, and everything that could be better. There are personal gripes, expressions of ambivalence for some of our ship’s more worn and problematic machinery. But there is also adoration for the freedom and exploration this big ol’ ship affords us.

These personal essays are our love letters and thank-you notes and familial rants to the semisentient ship that carries our imaginations and our dreams. Thank you for reading them.

See you next year in Disabled People Destroy Fantasy.


Nicolette Barischoff

Nicolette Barischoff has spastic cerebral palsy, which has only made her more awesome. She qualified for SFWA with her first three stories, published in Long Hidden, Accessing the Future, and Unlikely Story’s The Journal of Unlikely Academia. Her work has been spoken aloud by the wonderful people of PodCastle, and one of her novelettes is mandatory reading at the University of Texas, Dallas. She edited the personal essays section of Uncanny Magazine’s Disabled People Destroy Science Fiction, which won a Hugo Award. She’s also a fierce advocate for disability and body-positivity, which has occasionally landed her in trouble. She made the front page of CBS New York, who called her activism “public pornography” and suggested her face was a public order crime. She has the exact same chair as Professor X, and it is also powered by Cerebro.

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