Black Voices in Speculative Fiction

This post is dedicated to highlighting Black authors, writers, and other voices in speculative fiction. To make sure the list incorporated more than just my own vantage point, I put a call out for recommendations over Twitter, and the response was overwhelming. I compiled a list of over 100 individuals, and a big thanks to everyone who helped contribute. There is a link to the full list posted at the end of the blog.

Before we get to the larger list, I want to take a moment to highlight a few of individuals that were recommended. They represent different genres within speculative fiction, as well as a few different mediums (novels, short story publications, and podcasts).

Craig Laurance Gidney

A Spectral Hue - Kindle edition by Gidney, Craig Laurance ...

In my never-ending search for more queer speculative fiction, there is Craig Laurance Gidney with A Spectral Hue. This book focuses in on the artist’s muse in a dramatic and emotional way. I won’t say much more, lest I spoil it for folks who want to read it for themselves. Additionally, it was a Lambda Literary finalist for 2020 in their LGBTQ Science Fiction / Fantasy / Horror category.

Jennifer Marie Brissett

Elysium is one of the wildest journeys I have been on in a while. The narrator is an unreliable computer program that’s data has been corrupted and is attempting to recall the memories of two people who do their best to survive an apocalypse. This book is one you will want to read a second time simply to catch the things you missed in the first go.

Errick Nunnally

The Ace of Hearts, once poor and unknown, has used his power to wield influence over criminal organizations, key people in politics, law enforcement, and private industry. Along with his three super-human partners, they are in the final phases of a plan to become the power behind the power in several states. Shade, a civic-minded martial-artist trained on another world, and Atlas, a police officer with super-strength and the power of flight, discover the hard way that nothing is as it seems. They must avoid becoming pawns themselves and build a coalition in an environment where no one can be trusted and a self-proclaimed African god pursues a destructive vendetta against them all.

I’ve had the opportunity to attend New England’s annual science fiction convention Boskone twice now, and both times I’ve had the chance to hear Errick Nunnally speak on panels. His book Lightning Wears a Red Cape is sitting right at the top of my to-read list. The story focuses around an ensemble cast in a crime thriller with superheroes, and poses the question “what would it look like, realistically, if superhuman and human people tried living side by side.”

Roseanne A. Brown

ASOWAR_hc_c.jpg

As I worked on putting this post together, I watched debut author Roseanne A. Brown’s YA Fantasy novel, A Song of Wraiths & Ruin find its way immediately onto the NYTimes Best Sellers list. The book is described as being “inspired by West African folklore, [a story] in which a grieving crown princess and a desperate refugee find themselves on a collision course to murder each other despite their growing attraction.” It promptly was added to the to-read list.

Tonia Thompson

While most of the folks highlighted here fall under sci-fi or fantasy, there is a whole section of speculative fiction that often gets overlooked: Horror. Tonia Thompson is one of many people doing great things in horror and specifically in Black horror. Her podcast Nightlight focuses on publishing stories by Black authors and given voice by Black actors.

FIYAH: Magazine of Black Speculative Fiction (Edited by DeVaun Sanders)

cover for FIYAH #14

“FIYAH is a quarterly speculative fiction magazine that features stories by and about Black people of the African Diaspora.” This quarterly magazine is putting out a lot of great short stories, and at a price of $15 for four issues per year, it feels like a missed opportunity to not sign up.

This is only a small portion of the list I was able to put together. I would encourage people to take a look at this list and see what speaks to you. It includes websites, twitter, a book title or publication (if one was available), and a brief description of their genre or their work. I did my best based on what I was able to find online. The intent here was to give folks a starting point to dive into further.

Are you looking for horror written by Black authors? Try Tananarive Due, Steven Van Patten, or L. Marie Wood!

Are you looking for folks who focus more on short stories and essays? Kyoko M., Chesya Burke, and Brandon O’Brien have you covered!

Are you looking for queer focused stories? Jewell Gomez, Eboni Dunbar, and Craig Laurance Gidney are here for you!

This is the fully compiled list (via Google Sheets) with 100+ Black writers in speculative fiction It is view access only, but if you want to save it, you should be able to download it for yourself.

If you’re one of the authors on the list, and any of the information I’ve collected is inaccurate, or misrepresentative of the work you do, please feel free to reach out (email or Twitter) and let me know. I will update it for you (and apologies in advance if that happened).

What I hope people consider after reading this is to think about the books you read, and ask yourself if you’re going beyond reading one article during a time of tragedy or finding one book on anti-racism and calling it a day? The decision to think intentionally about the media you consume has to be an on-going process, and not limited to a window of time when a hashtag is trending.

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