How Disability is Portrayed in Fiction



In literature and film, those with disabilities often appear as antagonists, or as weirdos, or as wounded souls in need of rebirth. Think of Lieutenant Dan in Forrest Gump. Or look even to Clifford Chatterley in D.H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover. The same is true in speculative fiction, but Redstone Science Fiction wants to change all that. Check out the magazine’s new contest!:

Redstone Science Fiction is calling for contest submissions that incorporate the values discussed in the essay The Future Imperfect by Sarah Einstein.

What does a world, or space station, or whatever look like when it has been designed to be accessible to everyone and how would people live together there?

The submissions should portray disability as a simple fact, not as something to be overcome or something to explain why a character is evil. The submissions should also incorporate the portrayal of disability in a world where universal access is a shared cultural value.

This could be tricky, since they’re seeking material in which disability is an essential ingredient, yet also an element of the background, not exactly the main action. Are you up to it?

(Thanks, io9.)

Source: Redstone Science Fiction

Image by {Guerrilla Futures | Jason Tester}, licensed under Creative Commons.

Robert Rudney
5/16/2013 7:56:56 PM

Disability, Love, Sex … and Jobs: A Novel Perspective “Lovers Lame is the novel that makes disability sexy,” quips Bob Rudney, the author and long-time disability advocate who’s just published his first fiction work (Booklocker, $16.95, paperback, $8.99 electronic, “The book’s also a conscious effort to raise public awareness on disability issues, especially employment, and to expand the audience,” he adds. In Lovers Lame, narrator David Levin’s lonely and tightly controlled world turns upside down when he wanders into a self-help group for job seekers with disabilities. David, an acerbic, out-of work editor with left-side paralysis, grudgingly befriends a motley group of self-styled 'crips' and becomes infatuated with Jessica Cowan, an alluring, but mercurial artist battling the debilitating effects of multiple sclerosis. David falls hopelessly in love, while Jessica insists on maintaining her distance as she comes to grips with her own tempestuous past. Their struggle with their own inner demons plays out against the backdrop of people with disabilities fighting prejudice and ignorance in a world that still excludes them. “It’s both a plea for social and economic justice, as well as a poignant love story,” says Bob, who’s retiring as a Senior Advisor in the Defense Department. “Only one in five Americans with disabilities is employed. That’s unacceptable. The characters in the novel confront this bleak reality. They also face all the extra hurdles of forming personal relationships, of looking for love, while burdened with a disability. Lovers Lame shows them as human beings, not as poster children.” Bob was recipient of a 2008 Kennedy Foundation Congressional Fellowship and won the 2011 Defense Department Award as ‘Outstanding Employee with a Disability.’ He was Co-Chair of the Booz Allen Hamilton Disability Forum and served on the Virginia Business Leadership Network Board. He is available for presentations, interviews and other media events. Information can be obtained from

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