final essay

the story I choice is called live and let live by Linda D. Addison

Atlanta author Chelsea Burke writes in multiple popular genres including horror, fantasy, science fiction, and detective fiction. White generically diverse, all of her work is informed by the Black feminism she studies as a college students. Burke puts characters of African descent front-and-center in popular genres such as horror that have historically marginalized or villainized them.

Burke maintains a webpage where you can learn more about her and read her blog:

Nightmare magazine has several stories and essays by Burke freely available here. If you enjoy horror, you should enjoy these stories:

Georgia resident Milton Davis is not only an author and editor but also the owner of MVmedia, a Georgia publishing house whose mission is to represent people of color in a positive manner in speculative fiction.

Through his writing and editing, Davis has popularized the Afrofuturist sword and soul movement, a form of sword and sorcery fantasy that is set in pre-colonial Africa or in Diasporic cultures and that draws upon African griot storytelling traditions.

In the following interview, Milton Davis discusses the rise of the sword and soul movement:

Milton Davis also founded the artistic collective, The State of Black Science Fiction. Visit their facebook page to read their feed and learn more about Black speculative art, literature, gaming, comics, and culture of all kinds:

Balogun Ojetade is a Georgia author, filmmaker, game designer, and Afrikan  Martial Arts master. He too is a founder of The State of Black Science Fiction.

Ojetade is an expert on and creator of Afroretroism, which he defines as film, fashion or fiction that combines African and/or African American culture with a blend of retro styles and futuristic technology, in order to explore the themes of tension between past and present and between the alienating and empowering effects of technology.

One of the forms of Afroretroism that Ojetade specializes in is Steamfunk, an aesthetic form that explores the roles of people of Color in the 19th and early 20th, the era of steam-powered industry.

In 2014, Ojetade released his independent film, Rite of Passage: the Steamfunk Movie. Watch the trailer for the film here:

As you can see by this sampling of Georgia Afrofuturists above, there is a great deal of variety to Afrofuturist storytelling.

Scholars and creators alike now recognize Afrofuturism to be a global cultural movement with roots in 19th century literature. However, the term Afrofuturism itself wasnt invented until 1992.

Cultural critic Mark Dery coined the term Afrofuturism in an interview he conducted with three prominent Black speculative authors: Samuel R. Delany, Greg Tate, and Tricia Rose. You may read that interview here:

British author and filmmaker Kodwo Eshun expanded Derys concept of Afrofuturism in an article he published in 2003, Further Considerations of Afrofuturism, which you may read here:

Eshun adds a new concept to the discussion of Afrofuturism, the futures industry, by which he means all the artists and business that have profited from imagining Africa and diasporic cultures as past and future disaster zones.

Eshun argues that Afrofuturism is a chronopolitial intervention that rewrites the negative Black histories and futures proffered by the futures industry, restoring people of color to the past and the future.

In 2016 scholar Reynaldo Anderson published a manifesto in the journal Obsidian in which he argued that we are now in a second global phase of the Afrofuturist movement, which he calls Afrofuturism 2.0:

Anderson defines Afrofuturism 2.0 as the second phase of Afrofuturism emerging in the last several years that acknowledges its development as an emerging pan-African social philosophy.

Afrofuturism is an artistic rewritingand correctingof histories both past and future.

The African slave trade sent people of African descent all around the world, in the process erasing both their histories in Africa and their many contributions to modern civilization.

This global forced migration is called the African Diaspora.

The Afrodiasporic descendants of those displaced peoples live as minorities in modern cultures that generally treat Black cities and Black continents as zones of failure and catastrophe, thus writing people of African descent out of the future as well. Historically, representations of the future across popular culture have erased the labor and even the presence of people of color, even though people of color make up the majority of the human population of planet Earth (and in the year 2045 the majority of the population of the USA too, according to the US Census).

That, however, has started to change.

The arts of Afrofuturism restore people of African descent and other people of color to their rightful place in histories past, present, and future.

The arts of Afrofuturism actually have a long history. In the lecture notes that follow, I will cover the major writers from the history of the movement. You do not have to read every single thing I link to (I will provide a lot of links). However, I do encourage you to explore the links below and graze around in them. if you do read something I link to, feel free to discuss it in your main post this week along with whatever story/ies in Mothership you want to write about from this unit’s assigned readings.

A century and a half before there was a concept of “Afrofuturism,” African-American authors starting writing works of speculative fiction set in worlds with very different histories of race relations than our own.

The first of these early authors is Martin Delany, a truly amazing man whose life (1812-1885) spans the American civil war. Delany was a doctor by profession; indeed, he was one of the first three African-Americans admitted to Harvard Medical School. Fighting for the Union during the civil war, Delany became the Armys first-ever African-American field officer. Delany was also a writer and publisher, working before the civil war with Frederick Douglass to publish the anti-slavery newspaper, North Star. Read more about Delanys life and work here:

Delany wrote one of the first works of literary Afrofuturism, the novel Blake or the Huts of America (1859), which was serialized in The AngloAfrican Magazine.

Blake is an alternate history about a slave who frees himself and then starts a global war against slavery by educating slaves in science and creating a Grand Council of free blacks.

You can find the full text of Blake here:

Best known for his pioneering sociology of race relations, The Souls of Black Folk (1903), W.E.B Du Bois (1868-1963) also wrote three notable works of short Afrofuturist fiction.

Du Bois was the first African-American to earn a Ph.D. from Harvard University and a co-founder of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

Du Bois published his Afrofuturist short fiction in a collection called Darkwater: Voices from Within the Veil (1920). You can access the full text of Darkwater here:

Darkwater contains two of Du Boiss Afrofuturist short stories, The Comet and Jesus Christ in Texas. The Comet is a disaster story about a comet that destroys New York City, leaving only a single black man and a single white woman alive. Jesus Christ in Texas is a tale about Jesus Christ visiting Texas in the early 20th century where he finds African-Americans bound in chain gangs and oppressed through wage slavery. I highly recommend that you read one or both of these early Afrofuturist stories to see how they compare to the more contemporary works of Afrofuturism in Mothership.

(Scholars have recently discovered a third hitherto unknown Afrofuturist story by Du Bois, The Princess Steel.  Learn more about The Princess Steel here:

You can see a manuscript of the story here, although it is hard to read:

Pauline Hopkins (1859-1930) made her fame in Boston, MA as an actress and a singer before turning to a career in play and fiction writing.

The prolific Hopkins published most of her short stories and novels in The Colored American Magazine, a periodical that she also was instrumental in publishing as a member of its board of directors.

In her first novel, Contending Forces: A Romance Illustrative of Negro Life North and South (1900), Hopkins exposes the racist violence and prejudice people of color continued to experienced in post-civil war American societya theme to which she would often return in her future work.

Pauline Hopkinss final novel, Of One Blood, or The Hidden Self (1902-3), is an Afrofuturist tale in the lost world adventure tradition of speculative storytelling. It concerns the adventures of an archeologist who discovers a hidden Wakanda-like kingdom in Ethiopia. In this secret high-tech Black kingdom, he learns many shocking truths, one of which is that all people, Black and White, are the descendants of Africans!

You can read Of One Blood as it was originally printed in The Colored American Magazine here:

By the middle of the 20th century, Black authors started writing Afrofuturist versions of many popular genres including horror, science fiction, and fantasy.

Canadian author Charles Saunders is a pioneer of the sword and soul subgenre of Afrofuturist literature, about which you will learn more in the next unit. Saunders is credited with being the first black author to write sword and sorcery epic fantasy.

Several of Saunderss Afrofuturist stories are set in the fictional continent of Nyumbani, a fantasy version of Africa filled with magic, danger, and wonder. His first novel, Imaro: the Epic Novel of a Jungle Hero, relates the adventures of the worlds first Black sword and sorcery hero, the warrior Imaro, as he travels across Nyumbani on a quest for his own identity.

Visit Charles Saunderss webpage to learn more about him and his tales of Nyumbani:

Read his story The Blacksmith and the Bambuti here:

Read Katisa here:

Read Pomphis and the Poor Man here:

Octavia E. Butler (1947-2006) won nearly every major award that the science fiction field has to offer, and was the first science fiction author to receive a prestigious MacArthur Genius Grant. Many of Butlers works explore Afrodiasporic themes. For example, her 1979 novel Kindred is a time travel story about a modern-day African-American woman who is sent back in time to an antebellum Maryland plantation where she must live as a slave.

In her short story Bloodchild (1984), Butler uses the science fiction theme of alien invasion to tell a story about interracial cooperation and love.

Read Butlers Bloodchild here:

You may also listen to a dramatic reading of Bloodchild here:

Samuel R. Delany draws on his experience as a gay African American who could often pass as white to tell stories about new configurations of race and gender.  In his 1976 novel, Trouble on Triton, he imagines a world where advanced medicine enables people to change their biological sex and race at will. Delany thus explores what happens to society when race and sex are matters of choice and desire rather than treated as destiny and subjected to prejudice.

Delany started his writing career as a pulp sci-fi and fantasy novelist. Aye, and Gomorrah is the first short story Delany sold, publishing it in the definitive collection of New Wave science fiction, Dangerous Visions (1967).

As its Biblical title indicates, Aye, and Gomorrah tackles the taboo subjects of gender and sexuality with a frankness never seen before in science fiction.  Read Aye, and Gomorrah (1967) here:

Today, there are several prominent, award-winning Black authors of speculative fiction. One of these is Canadian writer Nalo Hopkinson, who was born in Jamaica in 1960, lived in Guyana, and moved to Toronto at the age of 16. She is currently a professor of creative writing at University of California Riverside. Hopkinsons work represents the global sensibility of Afrofuturism 2.0 that you will learn about in the next unit. She infuses her science fiction and fantasy with Caribbean and African storytelling practices. For instance, her 2000 novel Midnight Robber depicts a distant future in which people are biologically connected from birth to a global internet. People communicate with the net the way Africans and Afrodiasporic peoples historically have talked with the spirit world, through the mediations of an eshu, which is a Yourban term for a messenger god. Visit Hopkinsons web page to learn more about her and her work:

In Hopkinsons future and fantastic Afrofuturist worlds,  characters speak Creole and grew up in places such as Trinidad. Read her story, Fisherman, here:

Listen to a dramatic reading of her story Snow Day here:

Even more stories by Hopkinson are available here:

You have already read N.K. Jemisin, who is first author to ever win science fictions prestigious Hugo Award for Best Novel three years in a row. All three awards went to her Broken Earth series, a trilogy of novels about a race of people who are persecuted because they have the power to alter and destroy land and climate at will.

By depicting familiar themes such as racial difference and exceptionalism in strange, fantastic settings, Jemisin prompts readers to look at issues of race and culture in new ways. Visit Jamisons webpage to read her blog and learn more about her and her books:

Read her story, The City Born Great, here:

Many more stories by Jemisin are available here:

The Nigerian-American writer Nnedi Okorafor was born in Cincinnati, OH in 1974. She turned to writing Afrofuturist science fiction and fantasy after undergoing spinal surgery at 19 to treat her scoliosis, which cut short her budding professional tennis and track career. She recently wrote the graphic novel, Black Panther: Long Live the King (2018), for Marvel.

Okorafor draws on Nigerian folklore throughout her fiction and sets many of her stories in Africa. Listen to an interview with Okorafor on why she is a writer here:

Visit her webpage here to see a list of her works:

Read Okorafors short story, Hello, Moto, here:

Read Afrofuturist 419 here:

Several more stories by Okorafor may be found here:

Beyond the Afrofuturist and science fiction communities, Grenadian-born author Tobias S. Buckell may be best known as the author of two books for Microsofts popular Halo video game franchise.

Buckell writes “space operas” featuring Afro-Caribbean characters who are part of a galactic African diaspora.

Watch an interview with Buckell on the topic of Afrofuturism in Action here:

Visit Tobias Buckells website to read his blog and learn more about his work:

The word manumission means freedom from slavery. Read Buckells story, Manumission, here:

Read his zombie story, A Different Kind Of Place, here:

Dozens more stories by Buckell are available here:

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