Good Read: 12 Science Fiction Books Written by Black Authors



Octavia Butler’s work has reached a broad, mainstream audience in a way that few Black women science fiction authors have enjoyed. “Kindred,” part time-travel tale and part slave narrative, was first published in 1979 and is still widely popular. She began writing sci-fi at age 12 when she realized that she could create better fantasy stories than those she saw on TV and in the movies. In 2010, Butler was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame posthumously.



“Imaro” is a sword-and-sorcery novel written by Charles R. Saunders, an African-American author and journalist living in Canada. The book was published by DAW Books in 1981. The novel is a collection of six short stories (“Mawanzo,” “Turkhana Knives,” “The Place of Stones,” “Slaves of the Giant Kings,” “Horror in the Black Hills” and “The City of Madness”), which were originally published in Dark Fantasy, a fanzine published by Canadian comic book artist Gene Day during the 1970s.

In 2006, Night Shade Books released an updated edition of “Imaro.” This new edition excludes “The Slaves of the Giant Kings,” which Saunders felt held too many parallels to the present-day Rwandan genocide, according to a Saunders interview with Amy Harlib.



Written by Samuel R. Delany, a professor of creative writing at Temple University, “Dhalgren” is a science fiction novel published in January 1975. The book chronicles an extended trip to and through Bellona, a fictional city in the American Midwest cut off from the rest of the world by some unknown catastrophe. William Gibson, an American-Canadian science fiction novelist, has referred to “Dhalgren” as “a riddle that was never meant to be solved.”



‘The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms’

Brooklyn resident N.K. Jemisin has been shortlisted for a number of awards for her science fiction/fantasy short stories and novels and was awarded the Locus Award for Best First Novel for “The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms” published in 2010. The story chronicles the trials of Yeine Darr who while mourning the murder of her mother is appointed to become heir to the throne of the floating city, navigating the power struggles that come with the inheritance.


‘Who Fears Death’

Nigerian-American Nnedi Okorafor’s writes African-based science fiction stories. Her novel “Who Fears Death” (2010) won the World Fantasy Award for best novel. In addition to her novels for adults, she’s written prize-winning young adult books, including “Akata Witch,” “Zahrah the Windseeker,” “The Shadow Speaker,” and a children’s book “Long Juju Man.” Her work may be seen soon in theaters because the film rights for “Akata Witch” have been optioned. She is currently a professor of creative writing and literature at the University of Buffalo.


‘Brown Girl in the Ring’

Born in Jamaica, Nalo Hopkinson has published a number of novels and short stories and edited anthologies. The book “Brown Girl in the Ring” contains Afro-Caribbean culture with themes of folklore and magical realism. It was the winning entry in the Warner Aspect First Novel Contest, according to The New York Times. Since the selection, Hopkinson’s novel has received critical acclaim in the form of the 1999 Locus Award for Best First Novel and the 1999 John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. She currently teaches at University of California Riverside.



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