The Underserved


Following on this wonderful essay about cannibalistic llamas (I told you! …right?) Chuck Wendig wrote about the underserved.

I used to work at the public library. Libraries are of course where the books live but that’s only a part of what they do and one of the things they do is a very important function called: serving the underserved population. (Note: underserved, not undeserved.) I specifically worked with a department whose goal was to find the folks the library Just Plain Wasn’t Talking To and then Talk To Them. Are we helping blind people? We’re helping children, but are we helping seniors? What about African-Americans? Or people trapped in low-income brackets? And so on.

I am lucky enough to live in an area with an exceptional public library system. I’ve seen that they do this too. I count myself blessed to have many librarians as friends, both here and around the country. They also do this. It’s not just a directive from on high for librarians, it’s a life choice. It’s one part of what makes librarians super-heroes in my book.

You know I’m going to tie this in to what TDP is doing, right?

I love science fiction, but I’m always searching for what I like in the genre. I don’t like it too hard, or too soft. I don’t want to read about ideas—I want to read about people. Favorites include anything with Miles Vorkosigan, CJ Cherryh’s Rimrunners and Merchanter’s Luck…stuff like that. I like Honor Harrington, though I could wish her author weren’t apparently in love with her. Despite the fact that I’m wanting to throw a brick-sized book across the room every time he explains about Warshawski sails again. Yes, the part that makes the HH universe respectable—the hard SF—is the part I hate. Therein lies the problem. My tastes don’t coincide with the bestseller lists very often.

Fantasy—oh man, fantasy. I haven’t had a lot of time for new fantasy lately—has it gotten easier to get away from pseudo-Medieval Europe? I mean, you’ll get my Wheel of Time when you pry it from my cold dead fingers, but still. There’s more to the world! And in fantasy, that’s actually worlds. Or it should be. And while we’re on fantasy, I want memorable elves, not just pale reflections of Tolkien’s. How about some more women leading quests? How about more gays, beyond The Last Herald-Mage and The Steel Remains? People of color as the main character? Maybe even more than one named person of color in a novel?

Am I the only one hunting these sorts of books? Nope. I know I’m not. I’ve talked to other readers. This is one of the reasons Turtleduck Press exists—to fill niches, to serve the underserved (including ourselves, of course.) We’re still here nearly three years later because we’re not the only readers who want these things.

So hey. If you have one of these novels, or anything else you think might be a good fit, think about sending it to us? Here’s our Call for Submissions.

 How about you? What books are you looking for?



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