Black History & Black Futures

4 Sci-Fi/Fantasy Novels by Black Authors

February is Black History Month – an important and hard fought for yearly occurrence that encourages all of us to reflect and celebrate Black people’s innovations and substantial contributions to our society, as well as to remember and face the injustices and serious harm that Black people have faced, and continue to face, in North America.

It is essential to learn about Black history all year round, but I also think it’s essential to celebrate contemporary Black creators, and as someone with a penchant for fantasy (and sometimes sci-fi), why not expand your bookshelf and imagine new futures with some amazing contemporary genre fiction by Black authors?

Unparalleled Black speculative fiction author, Octavia E. Butler, not only faced real-life issues such as racism, sexism, climate change and deep existential questions with razor sharp insight, compassion, and eerie prophetic plotlines, so many Black authors are now redefining the genre and imagining radically different futures where people not only survive, but they thrive in a world that can look wildly different from this one. The journey to get there is often tough, and there isn’t always a perfect happy ending, but isn’t that just the way it often is?

Do you have any other sci-fi/fantasy books by Black authors you love? Let us know!

— Jackie M.

The Rage of Dragons by Evan Winter (+ The Fires of Vengeance, the sequel which has just been released!)

This amazing epic fantasy saga (written by Markham, Ontario based author Winter), takes inspiration from Southern African folklore and cultures. Dragons follows Tau, a young man who is born without a rare “gift”, deeming him deeply unremarkable, but is pushed to seek revenge and become the greatest swordsman after his loved ones are brutally taken from him. The publisher calls this book “Game of Thrones” meets “Black Panther” – need I say more?

The Broken Earth Trilogy by N.K. Jemisin

Okay, I know a lot of you know about this trilogy. The accolades for N.K. Jemisin are immense and well deserved. But I’m just going to leave this here. And urge you to read these books. The Fifth Season is the first in the dystopic fantasy trilogy that is told through the eyes of three young women: Demaya, Syenite, and Essun, born with the ability to manipulate geological elements called Orogenes. Orogenes are both social pariahs and also the only ones who can protect the entire world from the periodic apocalyptic weather events, also known as the fifth season as opposed to the four regular seasons, that occur every couple of hundred years in the slightly Earth-like world of the Stillness.

Brown Girl in the Ring by Nalo Hopkinson

This title (available at WPL as an eBook) is slightly older, written in 1998, but it starts with a bang that never fizzles out. This fast-paced sci-fi dystopia novel is set in a futuristic Toronto of divided socioeconomic classes where the wealthy have fled the city, and the low income, downtown neighbourhoods have stayed and adopted ancient magical practices. This is a rough and tumble book with a very recognizable landscape, and Hopkinson offers a fascinating philosophical question through the practice of ancient magic: perhaps we can only move forward by looking back at the past?

Binti by Nnedi Okorafor

Okay, you MAY have heard of this one too. But again, it is so worth the hype. This slim little novel by Nnedi Okorafor packs an unforgettable punch, telling an action-packed tale of Binti, a young woman offered a spot at the most elite university in the galaxy, for a very high price. This intergalactic adventure has it all: real-life family struggles, academic intrigue, a terrifying alien enemy, and very cool spaceships.