My Favorite Things with K. Ceres Wright

They might not be raindrops on roses or whiskers on kittens, but that doesn’t mean that we love them any less. Welcome back to My Favorite Things, the weekly column where we grab someone in speculative circles to gab about the greatest in geek. This week, we sit down with poet and author K. Ceres Wright. What does she love when she’s not writing amazing poetry and kickass cyberpunk? Spoiler alert: amazing science fiction that features awesome women of color. Read on for more!


As a Black woman sci-fi fan, I’ve been waiting for representation in a lead character in a Star Trek show since I was 3 (I didn’t know it at the time). And I’ve only had to wait more than 50 years for it. But it’s finally here, in the form of Star Trek: Discovery. I haven’t even seen an entire episode yet (It is set to premiere on September 24, 2017), but it’s already one of my favorite things.

The show stars Sonequa Martin-Green as First Officer Michael Burnham, who was raised as a Vulcan by Spock’s father, Sarek. How Spock got a sister will supposedly be explained in the show, as well as Klingon forehead ridges (Yaasss!).

Some have said that having a Black lead is too PC (politically correct), but Black women explorers and champions of freedom have always contributed to the success of this country. Examples abound, such as Mary Elizabeth Bowser, the Civil War Union spy who had a photographic memory and traveled behind enemy lines to inform the Union Army of Confederate troop movements and military strategy; Harriet Tubman, who ran 13 missions to the northern U.S. and Canada, and who led the Combahee River raid to rescue 750 slaves and deliver Union troops to destroy the estates of leading secessionists; Bessie Coleman, the first African American woman to earn a pilot’s license and hold a public flight to showcase her stunt-flying skills; and Bessie Stringfield, the first African American woman to cross the U.S. on a motorcycle. She also started the Iron Horse motor club. And, of course, Mae Jemison, an engineer, physician, and astronaut, who became the first African American woman to travel in space.

Commander Burnham is not a PC character. She is representing the continuation of the achievements Black women have made to the field of exploration for more than 100 years.

My second favorite thing is the show, The Expanse. Based on a series of books by James S. A. Corey (pen name of Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck), the show features a Black main character, Naomi Nagata (Dominique Tipper), an engineer and executive officer of the ship, Rocinate. She is intelligent, resourceful, and compassionate. As the only woman on a ship with three other men, she uses her wits, intuition, and specialized knowledge to navigate a galaxy where war will likely break out between Earth and Mars, neglected miners are devising their own methods of acquiring weapons, and a sentient biological agent wants to infect all of humanity.

Shohreh Aghdashloo as Chrisjen Avasarala, courtest of SyFyAlso featured on the show is a politically savvy diplomat, Chrisjen Avasarala, a UN Assistant Undersecretary, played by Iranian-American actress, Shohreh Aghdashloo. Her wardrobe and manipulative skills are to die for! Be sure not to get on her bad side.

Indian showrunner, Naren Shankeer, said, “They [Abraham and Franck] always said, ‘The people who make it out into space, it’s not just going to be Neil Armstrong, clean-cut, classically white Americans. It’s going to be Indian, Chinese, Russian [people], a mix of everybody, every ethnicity. And that’s just going to melt and mingle.’ We really wanted to reflect that, and retain that in the show, because it does say something about humanity, and that movement out into space.”

I couldn’t agree more.

My third favorite thing is a show called Killjoys. The main character is a biracial woman, Yalena “Dutch” Yardeen, played by Hannah John-Kamen. Dutch is a RAC agent (Reclamation Apprehension Coalition), leading her own team of bad-ass bounty hunters. She commands her own ship and crew of two men, John and D’Avin. The former she views as a brother and the latter as a friend with benefits (it’s complicated). The main villain is Dutch’s doppelganger, Aneela, who is acquiring some serious Lord Vader-like powers. I’m feeling the Black Girl Magic on this show.

Dutch’s childhood is told in flashbacks, where she was trained from childhood to be an assassin, covert operative, and fighter. Her mysterious surrogate father, Khlyen, is a Level 6 RAC agent who, at first, appears to be an antagonist. But as the show’s complexity unwinds, he seems to not only be on Dutch’s side, but also on the galaxy’s as well.

There is also a group of humans with cybernetic implants called hackmods. They have awesome hardware upgrades, but they are modded to be sold into slavery. A number of them escaped their masters and eke out a living in Rat City at the edge of the solar system. The episode that expounded on their backstory brought out issues of abuse, oppression, and alienation. I hope the writers flesh out the world of the hackmods even more.

Overall, Killjoys is fun and visually appealing. I’m looking forward to the showdown between Dutch and Aneela.

So there are my three favorite things. As science fiction on television and in film diversifies even more, I hope to have additional shows to add to my list.


K. Ceres Wright received her Master’s degree in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University in Greensburg, PA, and Cog was her thesis novel for the program. An accomplished poet, Wright’s science fiction poem “Doomed” was a nominee for the Rhysling Award, the Science Fiction Poetry Association’s highest honor. Her work has appeared in Luminescent Threads: Connections to Octavia Butler; Sycorax’s Daughters; The Museum of All Things Awesome and that Go Boom; Many Genres, One Craft; and many others. She is founder and president of a writer’s support group, Diverse Writers and Artists of Speculative Fiction. You can find her on twitter @kcereswright.

6 Comments

  • Lane Robins August 28, 2017 at 2:57 pm

    And… adding more shows to be to-be-watched queue. Though to be fair, The Expanse was already on it. I’m getting more and more interested in Star Trek Discovery as it approaches though.

    Reply
    • K. Ceres Wright August 28, 2017 at 6:54 pm

      I think you’ll enjoy Killjoys. It can get a bit campy at times, but it’s fun! Thanks for reading!

      Reply
  • Shara White August 28, 2017 at 6:48 pm

    I’m really excited about the Star Trek, though dreading the platform CBS is using, because it’s only going to be available on their ONLINE ONLY stuff, rather than letting people tune in live. But I’m loving the cast, specifically Sonequa Martin-Green, who I’ve seen in Once Upon a Time and The Walking Dead and really enjoyed.

    I love Naomi Nagata, both the casting of the actress for the character and the character in the books. The show did a great job of casting, and even though you didn’t mention her, freaking Bobbie Draper was awesome too.

    I haven’t seen Killjoys but your description has gotten me super-interested. I may need to check this out!

    Reply
    • K. Ceres Wright August 28, 2017 at 6:57 pm

      I’m hesitant about that platform, as well. I hope it’s successful, though. And Dominique Tipper replied to my tweet! Squee!

      Reply
      • Shara White August 28, 2017 at 9:12 pm

        I hope it’s successful too. I just wish CBS was making it more accessible!

        THAT IS AMAZING! She is SO SO COOL.

        Reply
  • Heidi Ruby Miller September 8, 2017 at 3:24 pm

    I’m also excited about Star Trek: Discovery, Ceres. I’ve heard many great things from my students about Killjoys, so it’s definitely on my list. I want to mention one more female Black lead. You might know her–Nicholle Ryder from a great cyberpunk novel titled COG. She’s awesome. 🙂

    Thank you for sharing, and thanks, Speculative Chic, for bringing us K. Ceres Wright!

    Reply

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