Science fiction and fantasy fans have long complained about the lack of diversity in their favorite films and TV shows — in race and gender. These days, the industry appears to be listening.
Marvel Studios certainly is, creating shows like "Luke Cage" and "Jessica Jones," and bringing characters like the Black Panther to the Avengers franchise.
But still, issues of whitewashing abound — see this year's "Doctor Strange" casting controversy — and there are times when shows just get it wrong.
Three self-described "nerds of color" joined MPR News host Marianne Combs to talk about the missteps — and the steps forward — they see across genres. They are fans of sci-fi and fantasy and are not afraid to examine the shows they love with a culturally critical eye:
• Shannon Gibney is a professor of English and Diaspora Studies at Minneapolis Community and Technical College. She's also the author of the young adult novel "See No Color."
• Bao Phi is a poet and program director at the Loft Literary Center. He may or may not have been wearing a Superman costume in the studio.
• Jonathan Palmer is executive director of the Hallie Q. Brown Community Center in St. Paul.
All three guests offered reading and viewing suggestions for anyone else looking to nerd out. And, for further reading. the website Nerds of Color is another resource for people interested in the topic — people from around the country contribute essays on movies, TV shows and video games.
Click on the audio player above to hear the full conversation.
Shannon Gibney's picks
1) Watch it: "Arrival"
When gigantic spaceships touch down on earth, a linguistics professor must help establish communication with the alien visitors. The film is based on a short story, "Story of Your Life," by Ted Chiang.
2) Watch it: "Game of Thrones" season six
The sixth season of HBO's adaptation of George R.R. Martin's wildly popular fantasy series catches up with the high drama of Westeros and the dangers beyond the Wall.
3) Read it: "Brown Girl in the Ring" by Nalo Hopkinson
In a chaotic near-future, Toronto has collapsed into chaos and everyone who has the means to flee has done so. A young woman, Ti-Jeanne, struggles to survive and understand her surroundings, even as the dangers of the city escalate.
Bao Phi's picks
1) Watch it: "Train to Busan"
This Korean zombie film crushed box office records in South Korea when it opened last year, according to Variety.
2) Read it: "Parable of the Sower" by Octavia Butler
"Parable" is set in a chaotic future where the government has collapsed. The story follows a young woman born with "hyperempathy" — the ability to feel what others around her feel.
3) Read it: "Octavia's Brood," edited by Walidah Imarisha and Adrienne Maree Brown
This collection of short stories by contemporary authors pays homage to Butler, an often-overlooked master of speculative fiction.
Jonathan Palmer's picks
1) Watch it: "Luke Cage"
Netflix adapted Marvel's "Luke Cage" comic series last year. After a prison experiment gone wrong, Cage gains super strength, but tries to live an anonymous life in Harlem.
2) Read it: The "Black Panther" comic book series by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Ta-Nehisi Coates is best-known for his award-winning book, "Between the World and Me," but he took on Marvel's reboot of the Black Panther character: a superhero king from the fictional African country of Wakanda.
3) Watch it: "The Last Dragon"
This martial arts comedy became a cult classic after it hit theaters in 1985.
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