Our identity is who we are. But for such a seemingly simple concept, our identities are extremely complex. We aren’t the only ones who decide our identities. Society places labels on us that we often don’t feel represents who we are, or worse, forces us into very narrow roles from which we feel we are unable to escape. 

The science fiction genre loves to explore themes of identity – from what it means to be human and beyond. More and more we are seeing an emphasis placed on the identity we choose for ourselves, whether that’s a name, job, moral code, community, and so much more.

We were very lucky to have Charlie Jane Anders with us to discuss identity as represented in science fiction – something she considers from multiple angles in her latest novel, Victories Greater Than Death.

Mentioned in this episode:

  • Never Say You Can’t Survive series by Charlie Jane Anders
  • The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K Le Guin
  • The Discworld novels by Terry Pratchett
  • Bête by Adam Roberts
  • The Snow Queen by Joan D. Vinge
  • A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine
  • Autonomous by Annalee Newitz
  • A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers
  • The Lifecycle of Software Objects by Ted Chiang
  • The Odyssey by Homer
  • Star Trek
  • Doctor Who
  • Futurama
  • Battlestar Galactica (2004)
  • Firefly
  • Westworld
  • The Prestige
  • The Expanse
  • Jupiter Ascending
  • Real Humans (2012)

Charlie Jane Anders is the author of Victories Greater Than Death, the first book in a new young-adult trilogy, which came out in April 2021. Up next: Never Say You Can’t Survive, a book about how to use creative writing to get through hard times; and a short story collection called Even Greater Mistakes.

Her other books include The City in the Middle of the Night and All the Birds in the Sky. Her fiction and journalism have appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, Slate, McSweeney’s, Mother Jones, the Boston Review, Tor.com, Tin House, Teen Vogue, Conjunctions, Wired Magazine, and other places. Her TED Talk, “Go Ahead, Dream About the Future” got 700,000 views in its first week.

With Annalee Newitz, she co-hosts the podcast Our Opinions Are Correct.