Which struck me as a bit odd.
Note, I was trying to recall stories with either a non-white protagonist and or non-white main love interest or both. I didn't count stories with paranormal or alien races which have, say, yellow skin but which have cultures based on a European culture.
Anyway, I came up with a bunch of possible reasons for the romance vs sci-fi/fantasy discrepancy. Many have to do with my less-than-awesome powers of observation and with basing conclusions on half-remembered anecdotal evidence. Here are some others:
- There are just more romance books written total, so even if percentages are comparable, absolute numbers won't be.
- Romance series where each book centers on a different couple are really popular. Readers tend to become fans of the series as a whole, not of a particular book. So with this sort of format, you have a wider total main cast for the series and can make some of them non-white without making the whole series look too scarily "Ethnic" for those who might be put off by that sort of thing. Of course, I don't see a lot of non-white main POVs in fantasy epics, which you'd think would be the same sort of situation.
- Having a protagonist or love interest who looks like you is more important to romance readers, so publishing houses take the time to solicit/encourage books that specifically appeal to various ethnicities in the same way that they solicit particular story tropes. Sci-fi and fantasy are supposed to be less formulaic so publishers don't even try to do it there.
Regardless of the reasons, I don't entirely like the result. OTOH, I really enjoy the books I already read, so it's not like I have anything to complain about other than a vague, existential dissatisfaction with the situation. I guess, rather than complain about the ones that I haven't read (all those sci-fi fantasy books with non-white protagonists that could have been there but which weren't), I've decided to celebrate the ones that I have enjoyed. And maybe go out of my way to read some more over the next year or so.
In any case, over the next week or two, I'll be posting a series of lists about sci-fi and fantasy books that I've really enjoyed and that have non-white protagonists.
- SFF stories with Native American protagonists
- SFF stories with Asian protagonists
- SFF stories with black protagonists
- SFF stories with Middle Eastern protagonists
I sadly haven't read enough books to create sci-fi/fantasy lists for Native Australians and Pacific Islanders or Latinos. It's doubly frustrating because I'm Latina, so I would have thought that I would have kept an eye out more for that.
Anyway, if anyone wants to recommend books for me to read to add to the lists, just let me know.