27 Hours

Wright, Tristina. 27 Hours. Fort Collins, CO: Entangled Publishing, 2017.

A planetscape in grey-blue-purple with a crescent moon above. The title, "27 Hours" is in large dark teal text.

150 or so years in the future, space colonists race against time to stop a war between the human colonists and the local indigenous intelligent species, the chimera, or “gargoyles,” as they are called as a slur. There are five teen protagonists, each with their own histories, ambitions, and agendas.

It’s so rare for people of color, queer people, and disabled people to get representation in space, so I was initially excited to see so many characters with one or more of these identities. And some of the representations were good—the Deaf character signs in ASL, with thorough descriptions of her hand signs and finger spellings. The queer romances were sensitively portrayed, with great details of inner dialog, worries, fantasies, and blossoming romance.

But many of the representations were problematic. Race is constantly pointed out but never thoughtfully engaged with. Somehow, although the ship left Earth only a couple generations ago, everybody forgot their cultural identities, and there seems to be no racism either, but without an explanation of why. In fact, a lot of identities in this book are just mentioned in passing without really being engaged with. It felt like, “You got your East Asian nonbinary person with a disfigured hand here! You got your Nigerian-Indian bisexual young man with PTSD here! You got your Afro-Latina bisexual trans woman here!” Is representation good when it’s poorly written and seems to be performative?

The nail in the coffin for me was that the worst, angriest, most xenophobic colonizers were the Black and Brown characters. They really hate the indigenous intelligent species! Over the course of the book, they develop empathy, but only because the white character (who has literally “gone native”) teaches them the truth of the colonial history and the intelligence of the chimera. This is just not good. Black and Brown people have been relentlessly colonized and dehumanized by Anglos and Europeans for centuries. To turn that around for a fictional twist is a slap in the face to the BIPOC people here on Earth who deal with continuing colonization. Here is a very thorough review looking at the racial representation in 27 Hours, written by Aimal.

Oh, also, the author has been flagging critical reviews as “fake” and is even harassing reviewers through private message.

I do not recommend 27 Hours for anyone.

Update, 4/14/2018: The author, Tristina Wright, has a history of sexually harassing teenagers.

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About Charlie McNabb

Archivist, Folklorist, and Legend Tripper
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