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Book review
Accessing the Future: a Disability-Themed Anthology of Speculative Fiction
  1. Hannah Tweed
  1. Correspondence to Dr Hannah Tweed, 5 University Gardens, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, G12 8QQ, UK;

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Edited by Djibril al-Ayad and Kathryn Allan. Published by Publishing, 2015. Paperback, 244pp. ISBN 978-0957397545, £10.00.

Djibril Al-Ayad's and Kathryn Allan's Accessing the Future is a creative manifesto for disability rights, self-determination and the cultural relevance of speculative fiction. Beginning with the query, “What is much of science and technology, if not the ongoing pursuit of accommodations?”,1 Al-Ayad and Allan introduce disability studies and science fiction as naturally complementary fields, with the former encouraging intersectionality in the latter and questioning the nature of accessibility. Al-Ayad and Allan state that “[d]isability, like all assumptions of what is and is not ‘normal’, is defined by society's expectations—it is not a person's ability or impairment but the willingness of our culture to include and accommodate all people that draws the line between disadvantage and accessibility”.1 As such, it is appropriate that this collection is notably intersectional, with authors consistently raising class and affluence as integral to the discussion of disability and impairment, as well as interrogating interactions between disability and race, gender, sexuality and immigrant status (among other identity categories).

Funded as a kick-starter, this ambitious project includes 15 short stories and eight professional illustrations. Robin E Kaplan's cover art of a spacewoman of colour floating above a planet highlights the collection's engagement with cultural biases surrounding visible and invisible disabilities. In space, every individual requires assistive technology to survive and in a spacesuit it is impossible for the readers to speculate as to the woman's possible dis/abilities or impairments. More significantly, such a position queries the readers’ right to know that information. The illustrations and cover art also serve a dual purpose: in addition to providing pertinent contributions to the explorations of science fiction and disability in the stories, the editors include illustrations to involve viewers who engage primarily with paratext and image over written narrative. For the benefit of individuals who are using audio technology, …

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  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.