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Steve Toase

Confronting the Default: Portraying Homelessness in Science Fiction and Fantasy

“The main reason I address this sort of thing in my writing is to keep an awareness that people on the street are people. Circumstances put them on the street; they didn’t choose to be there.”
—Charles de Lint

In 2018, the Writing Excuses podcast discussed Confronting the Default. During the thoughtful episode, hosts Brandon Sanderson, Amal El-Mohtar, Mary Robinette Kowal, and Maurice Broaddus talk about unlearning assumptions in fiction: for example defaulting to certain seasons, the common trope of groups of male characters with one female character, creating only straight characters, or writing about Renaissance Europe without people of colour. This got me thinking about a default that is pervasive within fiction: the harmful portrayal of people experiencing homelessness.

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