Portraits of Disabled Femmes from Speculative Fiction
Speculative fiction presents a powerful space for experimentation, for visioning without limits, and for projecting ourselves and our dreams into the future. As Walidah Imarisha wrote in her introduction to Octavia’s Brood: Science Fiction Stories from Social Justice Movements, “Once the imagination is unshackled, liberation is limitless.” This fan zine celebrates speculative fiction that stars disabled femmes. As a disabled woman, Laura Nash lives for stories about disabled femmes thriving and leading the way to justice.
View Laura Nash’s zine here: Portraits of Disabled Femmes from Speculative Fiction Zine. Download the EyeJack app on your mobile device and scan the QR codes to activate the images in this zine. Screen reader accessible zine available here.
"Not only do disabled femmes belong in the future, we are the future. The more narratives that depict this beautiful vision, the more people will know it to be true."Laura Alison Nash
The Magicians on SyFy
World: Born in the U.S., Margo splits her time between Earth and Fillory (a magical world with talking animals,
sentient ships, and clocks growing out of tree trunks).
Career Trajectory: We first meet Margo in her second year at Brakebills University, a graduate school for
magicians. She’s soon crowned “High Queen Margo, the Destroyer” of Fillory, and later she’s democratically
elected High King of Fillory.
Personality: loyal, cunning, flirtatious, blunt, vast knowledge of pop culture, incredible fashion sense
Disability: When Margo travels to the Fairy Realm, the
Fairy Queen takes her right eye as payment. However, after Margo proves herself, the Fairy Queen gives her a fairy eye to replace the missing one. The fairy eye is sometimes troublesome, sometimes useful.
Good to know: Margo is played by American actress Summer Bishil who does not publicly identify as disabled, as far as I know.
Imperial Radch trilogy by Ann Leckie
World: The Radch Empire, a colonial empire of human-occupied planets that answer to the tyrant
Career Trajectory: Breq is the only surviving ancillary
of the troop-carrying starship Justice of Toren. Originally a servant of the crew aboard Justice of Toren, by the end of the trilogy she’s a fleet captain.
Personality: perceptive, quick, justice-seeking, caring,
sometimes diplomatic, sometimes straightforward
Disability: Previously an AI with a starship and ancillaries, Breq is bereft of the machine and many bodies she formerly occupied. She could also be considered neurodivergent as an AI living among humans.
Good to know: The Radchaai don’t differentiate between genders. Everyone in the Radch Empire uses
he Broken Earth trilogy by N.K. Jemisin
World: The Stillness, a continent wracked by frequent earthquakes.
Career Trajectory: Essun is trained to be a Fulcrum orogene—a person with the power to magically manipulate earth, who is forced to work for the government to quell shakes and do whatever else they need an orogene to do. After escaping from the Fulcrum, she hides
in a far-off town and works as a teacher. Later she becomes a nomad, fighting to survive a massive environmental catastrophe like everyone else in The Stillness.
Personality: reserved, separate, self-assured, quick to anger, usually practical, fierce mother
Disability: When Essun pushes her power too far, pieces of her body turn to stone—one of her arms, a breast, eventually her whole body.
Good to know: Essun doesn’t die when she turns into stone. She becomes a Stone Eater.
Laura Alison Nash is a neurodivergent artist, writer, and freelance creative based in Portland, Oregon. She believes strongly in the power of words and images to open and change minds. A graduate student at Pacific Northwest College of Art, Laura is currently researching and writing about representations of disability in science fiction, as well as dipping her toe into the world of game design. See Laura’s work here.