State of Black SciFi 2012: Why I love Black Sci Fi?


I was already a die-hard sci fi fan by age 10. A self-confessed book addict, by the time I was a teen ager, I haunted both the local library and the drug store looking for new reading material. Books were considerably cheaper then, and the particular store I remember looking in most often was a couple of blocks north of our apartment. There I came upon a copy of Samuel Delany’s first novel, “The Jewels of Aptor,” published by Ace books. I was hooked.

Delany, by the way, was a fellow New Yorker and was married to poet Marilyn Hacker.

I’ve continue to read Delany in the years since His explorations of language, race, class and sexuality continue to fascinate me.

I no longer remember my first Octavia Butler novel — I started to read her sometime in the mid to late 1970’s, but I remember my fascination with her “Lilith’s Brood” trilogy and her three-sexed aliens. The trilogy explores issues of both class, race, and sexuality. And “Fledgling” has to be my all-time favorite take on the vampire theme.

I love science fiction, and I read it from an early age Now, I’m as fond as the next guy of a good spacee battle as the next reader, but at bottom I am much more interested in personal interaction, in clash of values, than in the sweep of empires That’s one reason I pick up novels written by women before those written by men

Cavveat: back when I was in grad school — in computer science — we used to quote the following: All generalizations are potentially dangerous, including this one.

Note “potentially.” So, yes, if you disagree, if you have counter-examples — or if you agree — l;eave me a comment.

What I like about Black Sci Fi is the variety of voices, of points of view, of subject. The willingness to tackle difficult subjects And including race as a factor in a novel opens up a whole bag of oppression, exploitation, clash of values. I remember Samuel Delaney’s “The Fall of the Towers” trilogy, which I read in the single-volume edition It involved three races of humans who co-existed. I found it both completely absorbing and very confusing. I’ve requested it from Inter-Library loan. I’ll tell you all what I think of now after I finish it — providing, of course, that I actually get hold of it.

I have a stack of five novels by Black authors on my bookshelf at the moment (thank you, public library): Tananarive Due’s “Blood Colony,” about a group of African immortals is the one I’m reading now. Tananarive Due may very well be my new favorite author. The main character is seventeen, yet this is an adult novel, as far as I can tell.

I’d love to see more books by Black science fiction authors actually in stock in book stores and on the shelves in our local libraries. When I was younger, I discovered many authors — including Delany and Butler — by browsing through my local bookstore or my library. I was fortunate in my library, as I haunted the Donnell branch of the New York Public Library when I was in high school. Not many teens are so lucky.

And I’d love to see more science fiction by Black authors for young adults. And I’d love for it not to be so hard to find.

So, readers, what do you love about Black sci fi? What was the first science fiction book you read by a Black author? Did you realize they were black? Keep those comments coming.

Here, again, are the links to my fellow bloggers.

Check out the other members of this Online Black History Month Event:

Check out my awesome fellow members of this Online Black History Month Event:

Winston Blakely, Artist/Writer— Fine Arts/Comic Book artist, having a career spanning 20 years, whose achievements have included working for Valiant Comics and Rich Buckler’s Visage Studios. He is also the creator of Little Miss Strange, the world’s first black alien sorceress and the all- genre anthology entitled – Immortal Fantasy. Both graphic albums are available at Amazon, Barnes and Nobles and other online book store outlets. Visit him: http://blakelyworks.blogspot.com/
or http://blakelyworkstudio.weebly.com/

L. M. Davis, Author–began her love affair with fantasy in the second grade. Her first novel, Interlopers: A Shifters Novel, was released in 2010, and the follow-up Posers: A Shifters Novel will be released this spring. For more information visit her blog http://shiftersseries.wordpress.com/ or her website http://www.shiftersnovelseries.com.
Milton Davis, Author – Milton Davis is owner/publisher of MVmedia, LLC . As an author he specializes in science fiction and fantasy and is the author of Meji Book One, Meji Book Two and Changa’s Safari. Visit him: www.mvmediaatl.com and www.wagadu.ning.com.

Margaret Fieland, Author— lives and writes in the suburbs west of Boston, MA
with her partner and five dogs. She is one of the Poetic Muselings. Their poetry anthology, Lifelines http://tinyurl.com/LifelinesPoetry/ is available from Amazon.com Her book, “Relocated,” will be available from MuseItUp Publishing in July, 2012. The Angry Little Boy,” will be published by 4RV publishing in early 2013. You may visit her website, http://www.margaretfieland.com.

Valjeanne Jeffers, Author — is an editor and the author of the SF/fantasy novels: Immortal, Immortal II: The Time of Legend and Immortal III: Stealer of Souls. Her fourth and fifth novels: Immortal IV: Collision of Worlds and The Switch: Clockwork will be released this spring. Visit her at: http://valjeanne.wordpress.com and http://qandvaffordableediting.blogspot.com/


Thaddeus Howze, Author-
– is a veteran of the Information Technology and Communications industry with over twenty-six years of experience. His expertise is in re-engineering IT environments using process-oriented management techniques. In English, that means he studies the needs of his clients and configures their offices to optimize the use of information technology in their environment. Visit him: http://ebonstorm.wordpress.com or http://ebonstorm.weebly.com

Alicia McCalla, Author—writes for both young adults and adults with her brand of multicultural science fiction, urban fantasy, and futurism. Her debut novel, Breaking Free will be available February 1, 2012. The Breaking Free theme song created by Asante McCalla is available for immediate download on itunes and Amazon. Visit her at: www.aliciamccalla.com


Carole McDonnell, Author
–She writes Christian, speculative fiction, and multicultural stories. Her first novel is Wind Follower. Her short fiction has appeared in many anthologies and have been collected in an ebook, Spirit Fruit: Collected Speculative Fiction. Visit Carole: http://carolemcdonnell.blogspot.com/ or http://writersofcolorblogtour.blogspot.com/

Balogun Ojetade, Author—of the bestselling “Afrikan Martial Arts: Discovering the Warrior Within” (non-fiction), “Moses: The Chronicles of Harriet Tubman” (Steampunk) and the feature film, “A Single Link”. Visit him: http://chroniclesofharriet.wordpress.com/

Rasheedah Phillips, Author–is the creator of The AfroFuturist Affair in Philly. She plans to debut her first spec/sci-fic novel Recurrence Plot in Spring 2012. You may catch her ruminating from time to time on her blog, AstroMythoLosophy.com.

Nicole Sconiers, Author-is also a screenwriter living in the sunny jungle of L.A. She holds an MFA in creative writing from Antioch University Los Angeles, and she recently published Escape from Beckyville: Tales of Race, Hair and Rage. Visit her: http://nicolesconiers.com/index.html

Jarvis Sheffield, M.Ed. is owner & operator of TheDigitalBrothers.com, BlackScienceFictionSociety.com & BlackCommunityEntertainment.com. Visit him: http://www.blacksciencefictionsociety.com/profiles/blog/list?user=2stjwb1h216fd

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11 thoughts on “State of Black SciFi 2012: Why I love Black Sci Fi?

  1. Alicia McCalla

    Aww, the greats of Black Speculative fiction. Margaret, I didn’t know you were a Delaney fan. How cool is that? The authors that you mentioned are the canon for Black Science Fiction. It’s time for a few dissertations. I was wondering if you think Toni Morrison belongs in with this group? Beloved was really a paranormal ghost story.

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    1. Administrator Post author

      Alicia, I hear where you’re coming from on this — but I don’t see Beloved as a Paranormal. Firstly, when I read it, I doubt I’d even heard the term. Second, I don’t think Morrison’s intent is the same as that of what I see as Paranormal fiction. I’m not sure I can put this into words properly, but Morrison is seeing the ghost as very much part of the everyday world. Paranormal fiction as I see it, on the other hand, presents things that they — and we — assume are not (werewolves, for example, or vampires), and they know it, but they present it as real for the world of the story. The world of a Paranormal is not our world. Morrison’s world is.

      Hopefully this is clear.

      It’s sort of like the definition of poetry — it’s slippery, but I know it when I see — or hear, or read — it.

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  2. Milton

    Hi Margaret! I see we took a similar path into science fiction. I read Delany a long time ago but it was years after I read his work that I discovered he was black. I’m having more fun now than every reading speculative fiction, mainly because of the variety of voices I can find now. As far as the libraries are concerned, I have my books in a few local ones. I’m working to expand.

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  3. Pingback: State of Black SciFi 2012: Why I love Black Sci Fi? | Margaret ... | Science Fiction Books | Scoop.it

  4. Administrator Post author

    Milton, thanks for your comment, and good luck placing your book in more libraries. My local library is lousy — the town finally funded and has started building a new one — and the town meeting where we voted on the library funding attracted so many townsfolk that they had to open a second room and then a third to manage the overflow. I hope they have a better sci fi collection than the existing, dinky library, does. The present building is in such bad shape that they have to shovel the snow off the roof — otherwise it would leak.

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  5. Nicole

    Another great post, Margaret!

    Just wanted to chime in on your discussion with Alicia regarding Beloved as a work of paranormal fiction. I agree with you that Morrison normalizes the presence of the ghost. She is very effective at blurring the line between the real and the supernatural and in getting the reader to accept the strange, the unusual, as commonplace.

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  6. L. M. Davis

    I love Butler’s Xenogenesis Trilogy. I remember when I first gave those books to my grandmother–who loves sci-fi–she was amazed to see a black woman writing like that. Then she devoured every Butler book that she could find.

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  7. Rasheedah

    I havent had the opportunity to read any Delany yet, but its definitely on my to-do list. I am not quite sure where to start, as I have heard that his stories tend to be really complex mythologies that take awhile to digest. Any suggestions for starters?

    My first black sci-fi experiences were with Octavia Butler and T. Due. Following the trail from there, I was able to come across a host of Black sci-fi and horror writers in the Dark Matters series, and then eventually found my way to BSFS. There is clearly a large, evolving community of Black scifi writers, and you are so correct that this needs to translate to sales and being on the shelves. These works should be in the main stream of book commerce, and Nicole noted on her blog, there needs to be increased visibility in film as well.

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  8. Margaret Fieland

    His stories are, indeed, complex, though I found the later ones less so than some of the others.

    I’d love to tell you to go to your local Barnes and Noble, get a coffee at the cafe, carry over the stack of Delany novels that I know *won’t* but should be on their shelf, and start reading — see which one captures your interest. {sigh}. My B and N had nothing but a single copy of Dhalgren.

    Don’t start with Dhalgren. The first two I read were his first book, “The Jewels of Aptor,” which I remember as not too, too, confusing, and the “Fall of the Towers” trilogy, which was, um, more of a challenge. My choice would be to start with that one.

    Maybe someone else will chime in with another suggestion.

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