A white nonbinary person in their thirties, with shoulder-length wavy blonde hair, wearing burgundy.




S.K. Brownell is a writer, artist, and educator from the American Midwest. Their work has been shortlisted for the inaugural Samuel R. Delany Fellowship in Speculative Fiction and has received the National Partners of the American Theatre Playwriting Excellence Award, Solstice Literary Prize Editor's Choice in Fiction, and other honors. They are a 2021 Tin House Summer Workshop alumn and a 2018 Sewanee Writers Conference Tennessee Williams Scholar. Their fiction, poetry, and drama has been published in Speculative North, Decoded Pride, Great Lakes Review, Newfound, and elsewhere. Stephanie holds an MFA from Boston University, teaches writing at schools including Carroll University, GrubStreet, and Pioneer Valley Writers Workshop, and leads a rag-tag band of speculative writers in community-building and writing accountability. They currently live in Boston with a cat called Wander. Connect at their website or on Twitter.

SESSION: The Otherworld Without the Othering

Sci-fi, fantasy, and all of their sibling genres love a good underdog. Here orphans, outcasts, and second sons become heroes at every turn. At the same time, many imagined worlds have long upheld the biases and divisions of the primary world, constructing societies rooted in medieval European traditions and leaning on the essentialism of fictional “races.” Increasingly, contemporary speculative fiction is pushing the boundaries not only of physics, but of social structures. In this seminar, we’ll examine existing tropes in SFF and look at writers who are turning those tropes on their heads. We’ll brainstorm ways to avoid clichés and problematic tropes in your stories. We’ll ask, “How does the Otherworld express being Othered?” and talk about using the particular powers of speculative fiction to create inclusive worlds and reflect on primary-world conflicts in constructive ways.