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African American Science Fiction Literature

Unique among literary genres, science fiction so beautifully lends itself to the imagination of new worlds, fascinating people groups or alien races, and different languages and technologies. I would propose that the most important aspect of science fiction is in fact imagination. It seems that this quality should lend itself well to minority groups, who in the realm of speculative fiction, are able to depict entirely different worlds and critique our present, prejudiced society. Despite this quality, science fiction has historically been nearly completely dominated by white men. In the 1970s a few great African American science fiction authors rose to popularity, even among non-Black readers, but they were still given very little space in the genre, especially at conventions and in publishing sectors. Since these times, the world has been blessed with many more popular, diverse authors, though we must not stop attempting to diversify our reading and advocating for equality. I believe it is our job to give recognition to the prolific authors that are rising in popularity today, and yet still remember and give due importance to the ones that went before and carved out a space in the genre of science fiction.

This Annotated Bibliography seeks to do just that by providing a wide variety of book recommendations by African American speculative fiction authors and several pieces of literary theory on the subject. This bibliography is aimed at any person wishing to diversify their reading habits, but it will be perhaps more aimed at someone seeking serious study of the topic, like an English Literature student. I have included a variety of works of fiction with the goal that each person may find something that appeals to their specific taste within this realm of books, whether that is high fantasy, dystopia, imaginative short stories, the discovery of alien races, or the depiction of a not-so-distant technological society. My hope is that through this bibliography, an interested reader might recognize the present diversity within a historically prejudiced genre and see the importance of a reader being able to pick up a book and see a character that looks like them.

Glossary

I have included a brief glossary for terms and abbreviations I will use in this Annotated Bibliography. For those accustomed to literary discussion, this may be redundant, but for the casual reader, these clarifications will prove useful.

Africanfuturism: "'a sub-category of science fiction' that is similar to Afrofuturism 'but more deeply rooted in African culture, history, mythology, and point-of-view as it then branches into the Black diaspora, and it does not privilege or center the West'"

Nnedi Okorofor quoted in https://lareviewofbooks.org/article/afrofuturism-africanfuturism-and-the-language-of-black-speculative-literature/

Africanjujuism: "'a subcategory of fantasy that respectfully acknowledges the seamless blend of true existing African spiritualities and cosmologies with the imaginative'"

Nnedi Okorofor quoted in https://lareviewofbooks.org/article/afrofuturism-africanfuturism-and-the-language-of-black-speculative-literature/

Afrofuturism: "speculative fiction that treats African-American themes and addresses African-American concerns in the context of twentieth-century technoculture" 

Mark Dery in "Black to the Future"

Science Fiction“a genre of speculative fiction that typically deals with imaginative and futuristic concepts such as advanced science and technology, space exploration, time travel, parallel universes, and extraterrestrial life”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Science_fiction

SF: science fiction

Speculative Fiction“a broad category of fiction encompassing genres with elements that do not exist in reality, recorded history, nature, or the present universe. Such fiction covers various themes in the context of supernatural, futuristic, and other imaginative realms”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Speculative_fiction

YA: young adult