I am excited to participate in a seven-week online event celebrating the State of Black Science Fiction 2012. Each participating writer will blog once a week on a common topic. Today’s is “The State of Black Science Fiction.”
There will also be giveaways. Our first giveaway will take place on Monday, February 6, 2012. Each time one of my blog readers leaves a comment here or on my Facebook page (my handle is madcapmaggie), they will be entered for a chance to win.
I will be giving away a signed copy of the Poetic Muselings anthology, Lifelines. The winner will be announced on February 6th. And you can go on over to another author’s blog for a chance to win there, too.
And now on to The State of Black Speculative Fiction
I have been reading science fiction for a long time. I’m 65 now, and I was already a fan when I selected Robert A. Heinlein’s “Farmer in the Sky” for my tenth birthday. I read Samuel Delaney’s “Dhalgren” when it first came out. I’ve read reams of Octavia Butler and smaller amounts of Steven Barnes, Sheree Thomas, Walter Mosley and Nalo Hopkinson. I’ve sampled Charles Saunders and Tananarive Due. Still, in my opinion, we need more black writers, more readers, and better press.
My first love is poetry, and I’ve read a lot of poetry by black authors. I have a book of poetry by Rita Dove and another by Michael S. Harper on my nightstand. Gwendolyn Brooks is another favorite. A mention of Robert Hayden’s poem about Frederic Douglas made it into a poem of mine. Somewhere in my mess of books is an anthology. And I borrowed another from my local library. My local library is small and old. It’s so out of date that our town is building another.
Just for grins, I searched on Amazon for “African American poetry anthologies” (1244 results) versus “African American science fiction anthologies.” (174 results).
That’s sad. If any of my readers is interested in a list of Black poets, email me – or check one of the many anthologies out of the library and start reading. Your librarian can probably furnish you with a list of names with no difficulty.
If you’re interested in Black speculative fiction, you won’t be so lucky. Of the three librarian at my local library, only one, in her 20′s, had read any at all. The other two were both, I think, over 50, were at a loss. Neither was a fan of speculative fiction, much less heard of Black writers.
I didn’t fare much better at my local Barnes and Noble. There was indeed a novel by Walter Mosley on display, but it was one of his mysteries. The only Samuel Delaney they had was a single copy of Dhalgren, and they had nothing by Charles Saunders, Tananarive Due, or Steven Barnes. I would have found this much more frustrating if I hadn’t just borrowed several novels by Steven Barnes from my local library using inter-library loan.
What about Black characters by white sci fi authors? The only one who leaps to mind is Robert A. Heinlein. The main character in Tunnel in the Sky, Rod Walker, is black, as are a couple of the other characters. And Sergeant Jelal in Starship Troopers is black as well — a fact Heinlein, who loved to jolt readers out of their comfort zone, doesn’t reveal until half-way through the book, well after readers have had time to form an opinion about the character. Tunnel in the Sky, by the way, was written in 1955, and Starship Troopers in 1959.
As to me, I’m tired of the good guys always being white. That was a big part of the reason the alien Aleyni, my main character, Raketh Frey, and his father in my upcoming novel, “Relocated,” are all black. Another character who proves sympathetic, Major Brad Reynolds, is of mixed Native American heritage. The bad guys are white, and yes, it was a deliberate choice.
I’d like to see readers, regardless of race, be more open to reading about multi-ethnic characters, and I’d like to see more writers putting them in their fiction. I wish more we had more Black writers of speculative fiction, and more white writers with who are willing to take a risk and include Black characters in theirs.
Call me naive, but in my opinion, “I didn’t think about the race of my character,” is a cop-out. We live in a race-conscious world, a world that still marginalizes Blacks. I don’t want to see that continued into our vision of the future.
Do leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of Lifelines. Who is your favorite Black poet? Who is your favorite Black speculative fiction author?
And be sure to check out my awesome fellow bloggers and support them by buying their novels. And keep reading.
Check out the other members of this Online Black History Month Event:
L. M. Davis, Author–began her love affair with fantasy in the second grade. Her first novel, Interlopers: A Shifters Novel, was released in 2010, and the follow-up Posers: A Shifters Novel will be released this spring. For more information visit her blog http://shiftersseries.wordpress.com/ or her website www.shiftersnovelseries.com.
Milton Davis, Author – Milton Davis is owner/publisher of MVmedia, LLC . As an author he specializes in science fiction and fantasy and is the author of Meji Book One, Meji Book Two and Changa’s Safari. Visit him: www.mvmediaatl.com and www.wagadu.ning.com.
Margaret Fieland, Author– lives and writes in the suburbs west of Boston, MA with her partner and five dogs. She is one of the Poetic Muselings. Their poetry anthology, Lifelines http://tinyurl.com/LifelinesPoetry/ is available from Amazon.com Her book, “Relocated,” will be available from MuseItUp Publishing in July, 2012. The Angry Little Boy,” will be published by 4RV publishing in early 2013. You may visit her website, http://www.margaretfieland.com.
Valjeanne Jeffers, Author – is an editor and the author of the SF/fantasy novels: Immortal, Immortal II: The Time of Legend and Immortal III: Stealer of Souls. Her fourth and fifth novels: Immortal IV: Collision of Worlds and The Switch: Clockwork will be released this spring. Visit her at: http://valjeanne.wordpress.com and http://qandvaffordableediting.blogspot.com/
Alicia McCalla, Author- writes for both young adults and adults with her brand of multicultural science fiction, urban fantasy, and futurism. Her debut novel, Breaking Free will be available February 1, 2012. The Breaking Free theme song created by Asante McCalla is available for immediate download on itunes and Amazon. Visit her at: http://www.aliciamccalla.com
Carole McDonnell, Author–She writes Christian, speculative fiction, and multicultural stories. Her first novel is Wind Follower. Her short fiction has appeared in many anthologies and have been collected in an ebook, Spirit Fruit: Collected Speculative Fiction. Visit Carole: http://carolemcdonnell.blogspot.com/ or http://writersofcolorblogtour.blogspot.com/
Rasheedah Phillips,Author–is the creator of The AfroFuturist Affair in Philly. She plans to debut her first spec/sci-fic novel Recurrence Plot in Spring 2012. You may catch her ruminating from time to time on her blog, AstroMythoLosophy.com.
Nicole Sconiers, Author-is also a screenwriter living in the sunny jungle of L.A. She holds an MFA in creative writing from Antioch University Los Angeles, and she recently published Escape from Beckyville: Tales of Race, Hair and Rage. Visit her: http://nicolesconiers.com/index.html
Jarvis Sheffield, M.Ed. is owner & operator of TheDigitalBrothers.com, BlackScienceFictionSociety.com & BlackCommunityEntertainment.com. Visit him: http://www.blacksciencefictionsociety.com/profiles/blog/list?user=2stjwb1h216fd