With Black History Month upon us, what better time to read excellent works of speculative fiction by some amazing authors from a variety of backgrounds, from African-American to Caribbean-Canadian? What follows is just a small sample of great works out there. For more suggestions, check out the Carl Brandon Society or BlackSci-Fi.com.
Featuring works both by modern writers and those of the past such as W.E.B. Du Bois and Charles W. Chesnutt, Dark Matter is a series of anthology collections focusing on both genre fiction and essays by writers of African descent. Spanning a diverse range of styles and themes, these collections provide a taste of many different unique voices in the world of sci-fi and speculative fiction.
Nalo Hopkinson's Midnight Robber draws from African, Caribbean, and Creole folklore to flavor a tale of a fierce and resourceful young woman, Tan-Tan, determined to make her way in a world she has not chosen. Tan-Tan grows up spoiled and cherished until her father's crimes lead them both to exile on the prison planet of New Half-Way Tree. Forced to survive in a lawless world, Tan-Tan takes refuge in childhood games, becoming the legendary Robber Queen, providing her with the courage to overcome her harsh surroundings.
In The Icarus Girl, author Helen Oyeyemi creates a tale of psychological horror with echoes of both Henry James and Stephen King. Jessamy Harrison is skipped ahead a year in school (to the pride of her English father and Nigerian mother), but the nervous eight-year-old finds the change difficult. Unable to make friends or to cope with teasing about her mixed-race status, she breaks down in screaming tantrums and is prey to odd, feverish illnesses. Add in an imaginary friend that might not be entirely in Jessamy's mind, and you've got the formula for a very interesting read.
In Futureland, Walter Mosley presents nine interconnected stories in a near-future Cyberpunk tale, each with their own interesting and different black central character. From the smartest man in the world, to the world's heavyweight boxing champ (a six-foot-nine-inch woman), to a private detective who solves cases with the help of a greatly enhanced artificial eye, there's a lot of variety to be found in Futureland. Those who like mystery and noir will find Mosley's work especially enticing.
Bellona is a city at the dead center of the United States. Something has happened there, and the population has fled. Madmen and criminals wander the streets. Strange portents appear in the cloud-covered sky. And into this disaster zone comes a young man-poet, lover, and adventurer-known only as the Kid. Tackling questions of race, gender, and sexuality, Samuel R. Delany's Dhalgren is a literary marvel and groundbreaking work of American magical realism.
List compiled by Tim @ Central. Annotations adapted from NoveList.