Enjoy AFROFuturism in the privacy of your reading room
by Octavia Butler
You can expect to see many editions of Octavia Butler's "Wild Seed" (part of the Patternist series). Butler is often considered the "face" of AFROcentric science fiction. She is revered. Yet, during her lifetime, she never received great financial rewards or big hollywood contracts for her talent and vision. Wild Seed can be considered as one of her most notable works. It is a good start for anyone interested in AFROFuturism.
Butler created the first black mutant super villain: Doro. Doro was born in Africa. At puberty, he discovered he could kill people close by him and take over their bodies. In maddness, entire armies were devastated by Doro. Warrior after warrior would drop dead. Eventually, Doro regained his sanity and refined his abilities. He found a purpose in life. He collected individuals that he can selectively breed and then feed upon to satisfy his intense hunger. He built villages that he protected. He was worshipped as a god. Then, the Europeans invaded Africa and the trafficking of human beings interfered with Doro's ambitions. His tribes were captured.
Anyanwu, also born in Africa, was gifted with great mutant abilites. She could assume any animal or human shape. And, like Doro, she was immortal. She viciously protected her family as they spanned into great, great, great grandchildren. In her animal forms, she ripped enemies to shreds with sharp claws and fangs. She had eternal youth. Yet, everyone around her perceived her as a frail old woman living alone, who offered strange cures for injuries and sickness. They brought cooked food and fresh spring water to her; never asked questions about her past. Occassionaly, she took on the guise of a virgin maiden to visit the young men of the village. This pleased her. Unfortunately, some of her offspring inherited paranormal powers. This attracted the predatory Doro. He hungered for special people and entered her domain. When the two nubian superbeings meet, a compromise is reached. Africa is changing. Gather the people and go to America.
by Charles SaundersCharles R Saunders created Imaro as a dynamic response to the "Tarzan" stories. He offered readers a black hero of humble origins who rises to great heights using muscle and brain. Dark skinned women and men prove that they can confront magic, mystical beasts, demi-gods as well as rule kingdoms and change destiny. Saunders gives readers Epic Fantasies overflowing with heroic intention and world altering consequences.
Charles Saunders has been credited as being the "progenitor of Sword and Soul" -- the African-hand side of fantasy. His first Imaro story was pubished in a small-press magazine in 1974. His most recent novel -- Abengoni -- has been well received in the fantasy world. He has a string of achievements and awards. His talent is writing "Epic" and "Heroic" fantasies. Frankly, contemplating the many subgenres of fantasy fiction available could make Harry Potter's head spin in bewilderment: Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones, King Authur and Hercules are just the tip of the medieval sword allowing us to revel in tales of monsters, empires, magic and hyper-muscled warriors. Men dominated but women also kicked butt (Norse Valkyrie, Roman Xena and " The Ten Most Badass Goddesses of World Mythology") in these fantasies that encouraged and enlightened readers. Yet, there were few "Authentic" Africans rising to the top of the blood and guts carnival until Imaro -- despite the cover of first edition of Imaro where white publishers sought to protray Imaro as a darkly tinted Tarzan. See the real Imaro here!
by Samuel Delany Space Operas are difficult. They are big and intellectually expensive with numerous characters and complicated subplots and various aliens and dubious technology that a reader has to plod through. This can require investment of considerable time and energy. But "Chip" Delany has a knack to make his space opera simple yet enlightening. His novel "Nova" published in 1968 was nominated for the Hugo Awared for Best Novel in 1969 when he was 25 years old. His use of cyborg technology also makes it a precursor to the "cyberpunk" genre. Race and racism as well as the division between the rich and poor are key elements of this story that takes place thousands of years in the future. Old white families on earth and younger multicultural societies spread throughout the galaxy are contesting for the ultimate source of energy -- Illyrion, found in the center of exploding stars.
However, his novel is bigger than a transparent allegory for our consumption of oil in the 21st century. Delany brings in elements of a classic Greek tragedy. Good and evil are a disturbing mix of gray.
Critics have described Delany as "the best science-fiction writer in the world," praising Nova as "highly entertaining to read" and commending Delany's integration of his sociopolitical extrapolation into his story, his accomplished characterization, and his "virtuosity" in presenting the novel's "classically posed scientific puzzle." (You can read the complete Wiki write-up here).
Delany, unlike other prominent sci-fi writers, hasn't written dozens of novels or travelled around the globe to sci-fi conventions to promote his latest works. Delany writes quietly in the background and shares the title as one of the "grandmasters" of AFROFuturism. See a Tribute to him here.
by Walter Mosley Walter Mosley is best known for his detective stories. But his sci-fi elevates him to a whole new level. His novels are not "Battlestar Galactica" epics but more like Rod Serling's "Twilight Zone" sci-fi dramas heavily invested in the human element and not just the technology.
In 1965, a mysterious beam of blue light came down from space and overlooked Northern California. This light had extraterrestrial powers that caused whomever the beam touched to die, go mad, or acquire a special unique power. This power is defined as full actualization of humankind, with strengths, understandings and communication abilities that exceed our normal capabilities. The people touched by the light in the novel were soon referred to as "Blues" and were segregated from society because of their new and improved super human powers. Soon after this discovery, they came together to try to find their purpose in the universe. As they look for their calling in life, an evil force, the "Gray Man", emerges, setting the stage for a battle later on in the novel between good and evil. The Gray Man is Horace LaFontaine, a character in the novel who was struck by the light at the moment of his death. He was revivified as a demon sent to kill all of the "blues". Once the "blues" discover this nemesis, they take refuge in the forest outside of Northern California. Soon, the Gray Man finds out where they are hiding from inside sources and the "blues" come to a consensus in which they are going to confront their enemy and declare war with the Gray Man. This epic battle takes place at the ending of the novel and has an extraordinary finish. The "blues" all use their powers that they were given to destroy the Gray Man. They soon reside in the small cities of Northern California and live normal lives with the people of California. (From Wikipedia)
Blue Light won the New York Times Notable Book of 1998. Mosley is a talented writer and offers strange interpretations of what you can expect in AFROFuturism.