The “Bechdel test” for female representation in films is now widely known. To pass it a film should contain two named female characters who have a conversation about something other than a man. In recent years, similar tests have been proposed for other under-represented groups, including the Mako Mori test for characters of colour, and the Russo test for queer characters. What are the strengths and weaknesses of such tests? How do they affect our viewing choices? And what does the popularity of such tests say about how popular media are being received and discussed?
In a 2013 column for Tor.com, Alex Dally MacFarlane called for a greater diversity in the way SF and fantasy represent families, pointing out that in the real world, “People of all sexualities and genders join together in twos, threes, or more. Family-strong friendships, auntie networks, global families… The ways we live together are endless.” Which stories centre non-normative family structures? What are the challenges of doing this in an SF context, and what are the advantages? How does representing a wider range of family types change the stories that are told?