Afrofuturism: Part I

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Afrofuturism: Part I

Black Sci-Fi and Speculative Fiction Anthologies

October is Black Sci-Fi and Speculative Fiction Month.  For those who want to get hip, there are two seminal, must-read books: Ytasha L. Womack’s Afrofuturism: The World of Black Sci-Fi and Fantasy Culture and John Edwards Jennings’ Black Comix: African-American Independent Comics, Art, and Culture. Part biography, part cultural manifesto, part historical timeline, part critical theory, Afrofuturism introduces readers to many of the most well-known authors, films, music, magazines, and comics, and places them in a fluid timeline of conceptual dialogics that directly links to African American Classics.  A vibrant, flashy, coffee-table book that showcases the diversity among independent comic artists, Black Comix is an encyclopedia of established futuristic graphic artists and storytellers, many of whom continue to have a presence at the Annual East Coast Black Comics Conventions. 

Of course, no treatment of Afrofuturism would be complete without mentioning Octavia Butler, the Queen B and Grand Diva, and Samuel Delany, a founding father of pushing against social confines.  Edited by Rebecca J. Holden and Nisi Shawl, Strange Matings: Science Fiction, Feminism, African American Voices, and Octavia E. Butler honors Butler and the power of her creative oeuvre.  Here readers will find several excerpted works by renown authors and theorists, interviews, critical essays with lengthy footnotes, personal correspondence, recollections, archival photos. a hefty annotated bibliography, and a time line that details her creative life.  Another gathering of eclectic sci-fi authors appears in Stories for Chip: A Tribute to Samuel R. Delaney Edited by Nisi Shawl and Bill Campbell, Stories for Chip gives space to various authors who honor Delaney’s contributions to Sci-Fi by writing stories that either immortalize his style or that are inspired by his works.

The essays in Isaiah Lavender’s Race in American Science Fiction explore how the paradigm of race and racism, rather than being shifted, serve as intergalactic baggage that permeates and stymies even Americans’ imaginings of other worlds. As Lavendar illustrates, many of the concepts that we associate with Sci-Fi recloak but do not redress racialized troupes and associations.

Not a "US thing," Afrofuturism spans the globe.  AfroSF: Science Fiction by African Writers (edited by Ivor W. Hartmann) is a compilation of original, previously unpublished stories by 22 Afrofuturists from the African continent and the diaspora. Many of these writers are now well-known and highly recognized. For those interested in the world of YA Sci-Fi throughout the diaspora, Walking the Clouds: An Anthology of Indigenous Science Fiction and Kaleidescope: Diverse YA science Fiction and Fantasy Stories offer a sampling of what else is out there.  Walking the Clouds (edited by Grace L. Dillon) is a collection of First Nations sci-fi stories and novel excerpts by authors from the Americas, Australia, and New Zealand.   Some of the writers, like Nalo Hopkinson, will be familiar voices from the Afrofuture realm.  Kaleidescope (edited by Alisa Krasnostein and Julia Rios), throws a wide net and pulls in at least one Afrofuturist and like-minded comrades—namely, Somali, Asian, Trans, and Islamic writers.