Growing up, I’ve always been kind of a nerd. I loved studying about the world and how it works. So when it comes to reading, I always find myself fascinated by sci-fi novels. Who wouldn’t love to imagine a world where things like time travel, aliens, teleportation, and parallel universes exist? The possibilities seem endless with this genre. However, mainstream media still seem to be dominated by white writers. Not to discredit them, but I’m sure there are lots of interesting novels out there that come from more diverse minds. African-American history month may have come and gone, but we still want to share a tribute to some of the most admirable black science fiction writers out there.
Octavia E. Butler
One of the most well-known and accomplished African-American female writers is Octavia E. Butler. She was both a Hugo and Nebula awards winner. In 1995, she became the first science fiction writer to ever receive the MacArthur Foundation “Genius” Grant. Her groundbreaking stories tell imaginative tales on the possibilities and dangers of the human race. Most of her works tackle tribalism, race, gender, alien invasions, vampires, and sexuality. Get acquainted with this brilliant author through her works such as Kindred, The Patternist Series, The Parable Series, and Bloodchild.
A self-proclaimed Octavia Butler fan, Jelani Wilson uses his works as a form of activism. In his work Ballad of The Bladesinger, the story revolves around a cosmic group who failed to take down an authoritarian regime that controls all interstellar travel and activity. Because of this, each of them was scattered across the constellation, embarking on a journey of survival to save and liberate all beings. You may also want to check out his work in the 2015 anthology series Octavia’s Brood: Science Fiction Stories from Social Justice Movements.
A former civil rights lawyer, Tochi Onyebuchi is known for his books aimed at young adults. These include War Girls, Rebel Sisters, Beasts Made of Night, and Crown of Thunder. Most recently, he released his first adult book Riot Baby. Because of his background in political science, his works feature a political element to them. For instance, Riot Baby is about a guy who was wrongfully incarcerated and his sister who has telekinetic powers.
Kalynn Bayron is famous for putting her own dark twists into stories that we already know about (or do we?). Her works will definitely make you question if the stories we grew up with were really true. An example is her take on Cinderella with Cinderella Is Dead. This novel takes the fairy tale we all know and love and turned it into a bad-ass dystopian novel with feminist agenda. Talk about taking down the patriarchy, huh?
Drawing from her Caribbean heritage, Nalo Hopkinson is popular for her works on science fiction and fantasy novels. Her works combine familiar imagery with urban settings and explore the complexities of human emotions. Check out some of her works such as Skinfolk, Brown Girl in the Ring, and Midnight Robber.
If you are looking for some straight-up apocalyptic sci-fi novel, check out Nova Sparks’ trilogy The Dome. It features life on different planets, alien invasions, and many more that make it a classic sci-fi novel.
Mosley is a legend in his own right, having written some awesome crime and mystery novels. So when he came out with his own sci-fi stories, you just know that they are going to be just as good. Check out Star Trek: Discovery and Futureland for some of his works.
Rivers Solomon is popular for her works in speculative science fiction. One of these is An Unkindness of Ghosts which takes place in a spaceship where segregation and slavery are rampant. The spaceship is meant to take the last humans from a dying planet to a Promise Land. Little does she know that there are more disturbing truths behind the ship and its journey.
Nicky Drayden’s take on sci-fi is definitely entertaining and quite quirky. An example is The Prey of Gods. Set in the year 2064 in South Africa, the working class lives a better quality of life with personal robots, renewable energy, and genetic engineering. However, an AI uprising threatens this perfect society as a new hallucinogenic drug spreads throughout the streets. It’s only up to a team of unlikely heroes – a girl with superhuman strength, a queer teen who can control minds, a pop star, and a politician – to save the world.
Jemisin’s short stories are to be reckoned with since they weave magic into modern society. In How Long ‘Til Black Future Month?, which is a compilation of short stories, she paints a different New Orleans haunted by spirits in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Another example is a story about a utopian society that watches our world as they try to learn from our mistakes.
Interested in more science fiction? Check this out!
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