What is Black Speculative Fiction?
If I had to explain what Black Speculative Fiction is I would use Michael Jackson’s Thriller as an example. It scared the living crap out of me but I couldn’t stop watching it. It was my first introduction to some horror soul. You know what I mean, horror with flavor to it. MJ wasn’t the only one to use horror or science fiction in their music. If you’re an old head, you might remember the group Grave Diggaz with RZA and Prince Paul who combined hip-hop and horror.
According to Wikipedia, Black Speculative Fiction is defined as “an umbrella term that covers a variety of activities within the science fiction, fantasy, and horror genres where people of the African diaspora take part or are depicted. Some of its defining characteristics include a critique of the social structures leading to black oppression paired with an investment in social change. Black science fiction is “fed by technology but not led by it.” This means that black science fiction often explores human engagement with technology instead of technology as an innate good.
In the late 1990s, a number of cultural critics began to use the term Afrofuturism to depict a cultural and literary movement of thinkers and artists of the African diaspora who were using science, technology, and science fiction as means of exploring the black experience. However, as Nisi Shawl describes in her Tor.com series on the history of black science fiction, black science fiction is a wide-ranging genre with a history reaching as far back as the 19th century. Also, because of the interconnections between black culture and black science fiction, “readers and critics need first to be familiar with the traditions of African American literature and culture” in order to correctly interpret the nuances of the texts. Indeed, John Pfeiffer has argued that there have always been elements of speculative fiction in black literature.
Whether you love Wakanda, Black Vampires or conjuring tales or, time-traveling and suspense or some good ole science fiction and hi-tech shit, you will definitely find a book to satisfy your needs.
These Black authors are writing books to scare, entertain and take you on various afrofuturistic adventures. Below are just a few books to start your Black Speculative Fiction journey.
Octavia E. Butler
Butler is the Queen of Black Science Fiction. Her books have the ability to transform you to different times and worlds with ease. She paved the way for numerous Black writers. She is highly regarded by many.
If you are an avid reader, I dare you to read Nisi Shawl’s work. I jumped into their work and found myself second-guessing my reading comprehension. They make the obvious so not obvious. They center Blackness constantly while bending and pushing your imagination.
Jelani Wilson will make you nod your head and protest. He was part of Octavia’s Brood project and now his curent project is about a band in space on their last life line. It has monsters and all kinds of cool shit.
Just take my word for it.
I love reading different Black culture fantasies. You’ll love it, too.
I love crime, mystery and suspense. He was working on Star Trek but they started acting some mark ass tricks. Devil In A Blue Dress is a dope book and one of my favorite Denzel Washington’s movies.
Yeah, I know what you’re thinking. Toni Morrison isn’t a science fiction writer but out of all her works, Beloved feels eerie. It’s not a typical horror but more of a psychological and emotional suspense that surrounds a realistic time period that many people can still relate to.
Let me know what you are reading. Recommend some in the comments below!