Here's an anonymous rebuke to me:
Dal Jeanis--I hope you'll reconsider what you just wrote on this. As mentioned once previously in this comment thread, comparing "other" races to eg elves and ogres in itself shows that we have obviously NOT reached a point where there is no racism in literature. Depicting a character "of another race"--ie not white, since white IS our standard default--is far from a comprehensive solution to racism in literature. In those Victorian novels, for example, most "minority" characters are just like Fagin in Oliver--hurtful caricatures that buy into the worst stereotypes in order to "build character."
I'll have another post on it later, but here's my reply comment:
Okay, Anonymous 5:00 - My comment was clearly about SFF - speculative fiction, and specifically Hugo nominees, not "Victorian novels" in general. If you know enough Hugo-nominated Victorian novels in the last ten years to make a plural, please list them. I'll even accept Nebula, World Fantasy Awards, Stokers, Edgars and so on. Paranormal RITAs need not apply.
I read, study and write speculative fiction, and while no one can read everything that's out there, I'm very familiar with the best that gets published, since it's what I aspire to.
I refuse to allow anyone, especially anyone too cowardly to leave their name, to make blanket statements about the literature that I read. Especially ignorant statements based upon prejudice. You want to play, back it up with facts. So put up or shut up.
I'll even give you a single character to research. You tell me exactly how the very capable Stephen Black character in "Jonathan Strange and Mr Norell" is a "hurtful stereotype", given the social context of being a black human being in 1800's England.
Do it without cribbing from Wikipedia either. Read the book and use quotes from the actual text.
Or backpedal graciously. Your choice.
NOTE - I said "even ignoring spec fiction genres where the races are completely different". So I was specifically walking away from the discussion of nonhuman races, whether cliche D&D types like ogres or fanfic Klingons, or exceptional and subtle examples such as those crafted by CJ Cherryh, Robert Sawyer, AE Van Vogt, David Brin, Octavia Butler and Samuel R Delany. I walked away from discussing all the spec fic stories where the races have real, biological differences that have full expression in behavior, rather than being primarily cosmetic such as those within our own species. Those are cool, awesome, deep stories, which allow a full and honest metaphorical examination of the subject of race.
I also didn't deal with the hard scifi fast-forward posthuman characters for whom race is a silly retro concept - you can't even really determine their species, since it's just a matter of convenient reference.
Spec fiction has grown up. Go insult an easier target, or at least read enough to have an informed opinion.
Or come over to my blog and discuss some more.
And here's the place for that!