How I Became A Fan of Black Speculative Fiction

Whenever I used to hear someone waxing poetic about StarWars and StarTrek, I felt so confused. I couldn't think of any aspect of those movies/shows that resonated with me. They seemed boring and  aloof, not just distant in an out-of-space way.  Vampire stories grossed me out and I was never tempted to read my brother's Harry Potter books even though he clearly was engrossed in  them. For years after, sci-fi/spec-fi remained  unappealing.

That is, until a friend introduced me to Octavia Butler's writing. Not only did she create new literary worlds from the perspective of a black woman. Through aliens, time travellers, mutant species and  vampires, she delved into racism, sexism, classism and xenophobia. She pointed out the flaws of organized religion while also showing the benefits. Yet, her critique did not come off as preachy, gruesome  or dreary but enjoyable, revealing and dare I say, beautiful. Never did I imagine that it was possible to feel moved, seen and empowered after reading science fiction. Reading Octavia Butler's work made me realise exactly what I had been yearning for in the genre before.

Upon learning about the obstacles Ms. Butler  encountered throughout her life and how she approached overcoming them, I came to admire not only her writing but also her grace and strength of character. The sci-fi icon passed away in 2005 without {in my opinion} not receiving the celebration she deserved. Granted, she had won several prestigious awards including the McArthur Genius  Grant and she had achieved other stellar  accomplishments. Still, considering  her talent and groundbreaking impact, she was relatively unsung in the mainstream. Nonetheless, she left us a precious trove of literature and she helped pave the way for a new generation of black fiction writers. They are honouring her legacy well. 

Here are my favorites with links to their books:
*Tanarive Due
*Marlon James
*Tomi Adeyemi 
*Nnedi Okorafor
*Nalo Hopkinson

And of course, I suggest you begin your discovery with ...
*Octavia Butler

Photography: Kyeon Constantine

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