10 Really Cool Classic Movie Trailers For Sci-Fi Lovers

Movie trailers are an art and a science, and they’ve been used to sell science fiction movies for decades. The greatest movies of all time started out as trailers. You probably don’t need to be convinced to watch movies like E.T. and Star Wars, but they all had to sell themselves to audiences for the first time. Let’s travel back in time and watch the original trailers for ten classics of sci-fi.

2001: A Space Odyssey

Released in 2001, starring Keir Dullea, Gary Lockwood and William Sylvester, humanity finds a mysterious, obviously artificial, object buried beneath the Lunar surface and, with the intelligent computer H.A.L. 9000, sets off on a quest.


Released in 1979, starring Sigourney Weaver, Tom Skerritt and John Hurt, the commercial vessel Nostromo receives a distress call from an unexplored planet. After searching for survivors, the crew heads home only to realize that a deadly bioform has joined them.

Black Speculative Tech – Uses of Technology in Black Science Fiction, Part 2

While history books would have us believe that scientific and technological advancement suddenly sprang forth during the Age of Enlightenment in late-17th century Western Europe, a deeper dig into the matter reveals that the institution of African enslavement has an inextricable connection to the development of the Western scientific establishment. Scientific experimentation and studies on enslaved Black bodies became the justification for continued enslavement. In her book Medical Apartheid: The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans from Colonial Times to the Present, Harriet A. Washington provides a history of medical experimentation on African-Americans, presenting the first full account of the gross mistreatment of Black people as forced subjects of experimentation.

Because of institutional racism and our positions as mere subjects of science, Black people have typically been excluded from the mainstream scientific establishment as actors, practitioners, researchers and policymakers. Black scientific and technological innovation and achievement have gone virtually unrecognized, save for the handful of Black scientists and engineers who get their acknowledgments during Black History Month. Contrary to perceptions of Blackness as divorced from tech and science, we have a long and well-documented history, present and anticipated future of technological development behind and ahead of us. In this series, we continue to explore the expansive realm of Black speculative technologies in music, art and literature.

Blerd Bookstore Struggle: Science Fiction vs. African-American Literature

Visiting a bookstore can sometimes be a struggle for a Black nerd, simply because of the way books are categorized. Whenever I step inside of a bookstore, my first stop is always the science fiction section. Routinely, I’ll do a scan for my favorite Black science fiction authors, and nine times out of 10, Octavia Butler, Tananarive Due, Samuel Delany and other popular Black science fiction authors have been placed on the African-American literature shelves. This seems to send a very clear message to readers: Black authors who write science fiction are somehow “other.” These stories are not considered traditional science fiction or aren’t really science fiction at all; it belongs, instead in the special interest, ethnic, or diversity categories of the bookstore. The categories that usually take up the least amount of space in the room, as if we have fewer stories to tell.

On the one hand, it makes sense to put Black science fiction beside other Black literature because it is Black literature and it caters to people who identify themselves culturally or racially as Black. It can also function as a powerful message to others who may not be aware that yes, we, Black people, do in fact write science fiction. For a person of color who might otherwise not bother to stroll over to the sci-fi section, thinking that there would be nothing relevant to him or her, a sci-fi novel shelved with other Black novels could easily dispel that notion.

On the other hand, this sort of categorization and marketing scheme allows for devaluation of Blackness as “otherness,” and in its otherness, less than, in both value and quality, the normal pool of science-fiction novels. For that nerdy Black kid who may be browsing the sci-fi shelves, not seeing a Black face on any of the covers of the novels feeds the belief that we do not belong in future worlds. That lack of reflection on the shelves does a disservice to their imaginative potentials, and it somehow diminishes the infinite possibilities that have been bestowed upon them as a birthright.

I have a vision that when I walk into a bookstore in future times, I am no longer going through the Black nerd struggle. In these future bookstores, no one is forced to make a choice between illusory duality of Blackness and science fiction, because there is no conflict between the two. Ideally in this future world, perhaps Black sci-fi is shelved with other sci-fi, or perhaps there is a section exclusively for Black sci-fi. The genre will have evolved in such a way that all of the artists and authors currently creating sci-fi will have found a place in the global market and on mainstream commercial bookshelves.

Then again, with the current surge in the popularity of e-books, bookshelves themselves may become obsolete. In that future world, then, a search term for a sci-fi novel will turn up Black authors with the same frequency as any other author of sci-fi, without even having to enter the term Black. But if you in this future world choose to search the e-book database specifically for Black sci-fi for an experience you can identify with, you can do so, just as easily. Until that future vision manifests, below are 10 anthologies of Black speculative fiction, sci-fi, fantasy, horror and Afrofuturism.

Black Speculative Tech – Uses of Technology in Black Science Fiction, Part 1

I’ve always considered the term “science fiction,” as applied to writing, film and other speculative media involving scientific concerns, to be somewhat inadequate. It has always seemed to me that the worlds created within the pages or upon the screen are literally written into existence, brought to life, fully functioning and self-sustaining in the imaginations and minds of the viewers and readers, whereas the term “fiction” would seem to deny the world its possibility of being.

Science fiction also denotes a false sense of cause and effect, as though the writing or film is influenced by the field of science in a unilateral direction, instead of both science and speculative works being mutually influenced by each other. Science and technology have benefitted from the imaginations of science fiction writers as much as the reverse, and many sci-fi writers are, in fact, scientists, or are consulted by scientists when their work predicts the future or thinks up new possibilities and uses for technology. Many of the words and terms that we believe to have been fashioned in a laboratory, such as “zero gravity,” “ion drive,” and “robotics” were first used in science-fiction stories, and subsequently integrated into science jargon. And any sci-fi writer will tell you that extensive research into the scientific area that your story is focused on is crucial and perpetual. Likely, the same is true for other artists and performers whose works are speculative or science fictional in nature.

In this ongoing examination, we will look at the use of technology in the writings and art of popular and contemporary Black speculative writers and artists, what the technology comments on or correspond to in reality, how that technology anticipates some later development in science, or how the work expands or redefines the meaning of technology.

Black No More: Being an Account of the Strange and Wonderful Workings of Science in the Land of the Free, AD 1933-1940 written in 1931 by George Schuyler, tells the story of a technology invented by a Black scientist named Dr. Crookman that changes a Black person into a white person. The transforming technology seems to anticipate the skin-bleaching phenomenon that would later grip societies all around the world. Although many sources trace skin-lightening techniques back to ancient times, skin-lightening cream did not come into mass production until the 1960s. In 1940, it was discovered that the chemical compound hydroquinone would depigment skin in people of color wearing rubber gloves made of the compound. In 1978, the Food and Drug Administration would issue proposed rules for over-the-counter drugs containing hydroquinone, which included skin-bleaching products. The chemical has since been banned in several countries, but remains available over the counter in the United States if it contains the chemical below a certain percentage. In Schuyler’s time, just as in 2014, lighter skin means a higher rung on the social hierarchy, along with better social and economic opportunities. Crookman’s machine, described as “a cross between a dentist’s chair and an electric chair,” also anticipates the use of cosmetic surgery to alter appearance. The technology in the novel changes not only the Black person’s skin pigmentation, but hair texture and color, nose and lips.

In her short story Like Daughter (appearing in the Dark Matter anthology), speculative author Tananarive Due paints an eerie picture of “designer babies” taken to its most extreme conclusion. Synthesizing the concepts of genetics, epigenetics, trauma and memory, Due’s story, released in 2001, seems to anticipate the use of preimplantation genetic diagnosis to pre-select preferred qualities of a child, such as its eye color and gender, and advances in assisted reproductive technology that could eventually allow parents to genetically engineer a child.

Amiri Baraka has two works in particular which are a speculative re-imagining of the function and use of technology. Rhythm Travel, also found in the Dark Matter anthology, envisions a way of traversing space-time that allows the traveler to “be the music,” disappearing and reappearing wherever and whenever the music is played. This 1996 story is an interesting parallel to Baraka’s earlier 1969 essay Technology and Ethos, where he calls for us to dramatically redefine and create new technologies that push beyond the boundaries established by the politics of the white scientific institution. The Molecular Anyscape used in Rhythm Travel appears to be one of the machines produced by the spirit that Baraka refers to in Technology and Ethos.

What are some other uses of or comments on technology in the speculative works of Black writers, artists and performers?

Rasheedah Phillips is a Philadelphia public interest attorney, speculative fiction writer, the creator of The AfroFuturist Affair, and a founding member of Metropolarity.net. She recently independently published her first speculative fiction collection, “Recurrence Plot (and Other Time Travel Tales).”