List of African American Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Authors

African American Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Authors

List of African American Science Fiction, Fantasy Horror AuthorsTo celebrate Black History month I would like to share a few extraordinary African American Sci-Fi, Fantasy and Horror authors with you.

Samuel R. Delaney
April 1, 1942 –

Samuel “Chip” Delaney has the distinction of not only being the first known and notable African American Sci-Fi author but also the first openly gay Sci-Fi author as well. He has won both Hugo and Nebula awards for his work, and has had 19 novels published to date. His most notable and arguably his best novels are Dhalgren, Babel-17, The Einstein Intersection, Nova and The Fall of the Towers. Dhalgren in particular has garnered as much criticism as praise and due to my plebian taste doesn’t suit me nearly as well as the (to me) more accessible Babel-17 or The Einstein Intersection. Professor Delaney is still writing as well as teaching at Temple University.

Octavia Butler
June 22 1947 – February 24, 2006

Taken from us far too soon, Octavia Butler made a deep impression on all those fortunate to have read her work. You may read tributes to her by fans, friends and critics but nothing speaks more clearly than her own words. As an author she neither ignored her roots nor was she defined exclusively by them. She wove many strands from her experience and education into her tales and added her own vision of what might be and what could be with powerful and lasting images. Unafraid to face social issues yet never preaching or allowing that passion to overwhelm her storytelling, The most popular of her novels is Kindred, a time travel story that author herself described as “grim fantasy”, bringing a 20th century African American woman in touch with both her black and white ancestors during the slavery era. In more of a science fiction rather than fantasy style are the Patternist series beginning with Patternmaster, Lilliths Brood AKA the Xenogenesis Trilogy and the Parable series.

Steven Barnes
March 1, 1952 –

This versatile writer has co authored numerous novels with sci-fi great Larry Niven, produced media tie-in novels for Star Wars, Star Trek Deep Space 9 and has had nearly a score of his screenplays produced. His own stand alone novels such as Great Sky Woman, Lions Blood, Zulu Heart cover a breathtaking range of subjects and backgrounds and all are faced paced action adventure fantasy and science fiction tales. In addition to all of the science fiction and fantasy novels that he has written he has also done the Tennyson Hardwick mystery series with actor Blair Underwood and this series is also in many ways ground breaking territory. Is it any wonder that he is married to one of the very best science fiction writers of any race, namely Tannarive Due?

Tananarive Due
January 5, 1966 –

Tananarive Due is one of my favorite writers. That is saying a lot because I can be quite picky. When she began her career in writing it was as a journalist and it was while still working in that field that she wrote her first novel.

Her books often veer into horror and the supernatural. They do so in such a way as to blur the borders between what we think of as the real and natural world with that other more elusive but no less substantive world that lies just beyond our reach. The Between, My Soul To Keep, The Living Blood, all push the boundaries and do so with the beauty of language that I see as hers alone. I don’t want you to think of these as “pretty” books. They deal with some very difficult and painful subjects. She has us go to uncomfortable places in our own psyches at times but never without good reason. Her most recent novels have been mysteries and were co authored with her husband Steven Barnes and actor Blair Underwood. Fortunately for those of us who enjoy fantasy and horror, she has not abandoned the field having written Blood Colony in 2008.

L.A. Banks
December 11, 1959 –

Leslie Esdaile Banks has written in many different genres much as the other authors I’ve mentioned so far but she is best loved for her dark fantasy, paranormal and horror novels. The Vampire Huntress Legend Series alone has 12 novels and seems to be marching on. Then there are the Crimson Moon novels, the Dark Avenger series, both successful. Ms. Banks does not shy away from sex and romance in her books but neither does she use them as a substitute for plot as lesser authors have done. What is especially fun about her work is her being straight up about the battle of good and evil. No hand wringing or soul searching. Her novels are action packed and they don’t come with excuses and second guessing.

Alaya Dawn Johnson
March 31, 1982-

Alaya Dawn Johnson is one of the younger rising stars. Her work spans both YA and Adult fiction. This award winning speculative fiction author first came to the reading public’s attention with her Spirit Binders Series.  She garnered more accolades with her forays into urban vampire fantasy in Moonshine and Wicked City. More recently her dystopian science fiction novel in Love is the Drug won the Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy. Her high tech sci-fi thriller The Summer Prince has also been well received by readers and critics alike.  All and all she is breaking through old stereotypes with style and grace.

Other notable black authors in the field are:
David Anthony Durham
Walter Mosley
Charles Saunders
R.A. Baker
George S. Schuyler
Jewell Gomez
Nalo Hopkinson
Anthony Beal
Ishmael Reed
Judith Woolcock Colombo
Charles Johnson
Nnedi Okorafor
N.K. Jemsin
Brandon Massey
Milton J. Davis
Balogun Ojetade
Valjeanne Jeffers
Tina McElroy Ansa
Seressia Glass
D.K. Gaston
Geoffrey Thorne
Wendy Raven McNair
Touré Neblett
DaVaun Sanders
C. Michael Forsyth
Nichelle Nichols
Phyllis Alesia Perry
Edward C. Uzzle

by June K. Williams

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June Williams
June, also known affectionately as Buzzy Lady #2, has been with the company since it began. She was born in Manhattan, raised in the Bronx (the first 12 years in the heart of the south Bronx) and spent most of her adult life living in Westchester County N.Y.

Always a Science Fiction fan and dabbler in writing she had thought herself too practical to pursue a career in the field. Before coming to Buzzy she spent over 30 years in the travel industry, then one day decided it was time to spread her wings and plunge into publishing. Everyone she knew thought she had gone slightly daft but as this was not the first time they had expressed that opinion she took the red pill anyway and now spends all of her time putting together projects that make each day a pleasure.
  • Moira Fastner

    I’m wondering why you didn’t mention that Steve barnes and Tananarive Due are married. Now that is what I call a power couple! Must admit I like her stuff better than his.

    • June K.Williams

      While we are very aware that Steve Barnes and Tananarive Due are married and indeed are quite the power couple, in this instance we were listing their individual careers.

      • Zoey

        Steve Barnes use to be my mentor, but really never gave me the help I need and wanted. I’m like the other guy, I want it, but it is very hard for African American fantasy writers. I just finished another fantasy book and I’m hoping a publisher will give me a chance.

        • June K.Williams

          Sorry to hear you never got the help you were looking for from that source but let that not discourage you. There are wonderful worksops like Clarion that can be of use to both new and established authors. Here is a link from the SFWA with a list of some of the best:

          As to finding a publisher who will give you a chance, persistance is part of the journey. What one publisher may reject because that is not what they are looking for at the time they get it may be the very thing that another is looking for. One more tip, find a good Beta. Better still find several!

  • Arthur Dent

    Why did you leave out George Schuyler? While he was not primarily a SF writer, he did write Black No More. Is it that his poitical views were a little too far to the right for comfort?

    • June Williams

      No, he was left out because as you yourself mentioned he was not primarily a SF writer. This was not intended to be a complete list but rather one of authors that I found to be influential in the genre.

  • Lomax

    I didn’t even know that Steven Barnes was black, i just like good sci fi and fantasy.

  • Tanika

    Wow! I had no idea there were african american sci fi writers. I knew about Octavia Butler and LA Banks, I knew Tananarive Due but I had no idea she wrote sci fi. I’m new to this genre because I’ve read romance for so long, I’m trying something new now. This is a great start in my new collection of books if I enjoy it. I’m starting off with LA Banks’ Minion. I just started to read it. If there is anyone else that I should know about I’m open for suggestions.

  • Ha ha ha, the Dogon of Africa have the Sirius constellation in their meta-history. When a spaceship crashed in what’s called Area 51, they pulled out an “alien” in a bio-engineered deep space covering. They peeled off the suit to reveal a being within. After DNA testing they sealed off the area and told people all Africans are primitive natives. Actually they been to space while the rest of world looked up in wonder for centuries.
    You folks have got to stop thinking what white folks do is unique. We have used the stars to navigate, do you actually believe it was on water?? Ha Ha Ha!!!!!!!

  • Dante

    Why wasn’t Timothy N. Stelly, Sr. mentioned? 2/3 of his HUMAN TRIAL trilogy has been published and has been well-received. His forte is alien invasion.

    • June Williams

      Thank you for adding his name. As I said before, this list doesn’t include every genre author who also happens to be an African American but rather those that I considered to be particularly influential i the field or are personal favorites. I was unfamiliar with the work of Timothy N.Stelly,Sr. bit will now read what he has written.

  • Willette Hill

    Don’t forget Brandon Massey and L.R. Giles

  • J

    You can also add Jason McCammon to that list. Although his book can be thought of as Young Adult Fantasy.

  • Nefer Maatkare

    Nfr Ntr L.A. Banks-My favorite action writer. Htp & love to her and her family, she will be missed but never forgotten…

    Praises to the one who set this page up. Many don’t know of these authors, and it’s good that the info is out there! Thank you Ntr!

  • Candy

    I hear there’s a fantasy coming out with a black lead, a girl. She wields a huge green sword. If anyone here knows about it, pleas post! PLEASE!

    • Jacob

      Hey Candy,

      This may fiinally be some true ass-kicking by a true sister!
      I’m on it!

  • June K. Williams

    Candy, I heard about this series on NPR but for the life of me I don’t remember the name of the show. As soon as I get more information I’ll post it here.

  • Ms. Freeman

    Hey Candy, the fantasy comes out early 2012, and does feature a black girl, though the author is white, from what I read on YouTube.

  • Jacob

    I feel that black fans of fantasy like myself do not like many “fantasies” written by black authors. I believe that many African American fans of fantasy are looking for black heroes yes, only like in works such as Howard, Leiber and so forth. They are looking for swords, beasts, and other worlds. Not voodoo, mullattoes, race themed garbage and all such other crap that passes off as “fantasy.” Just my two cents worth.

    • Administrator

      Hi Jacob,

      It seems to me that you may have bypasses the works of L.A. Banks, Octavia Butler and Tannarive Due at the very least. You will not find voodoo,mullattoes and race themed garbage in any off them. What you will find is an inclusion of people of color and sometimes when dealing with fantasy there will be folklore involved. I can enkoy Howard and Leiber and still have a place for beautifully craffted fantasy. Fantasy so compelling that I find myself literally holding my breath.

      • Jacob

        Oh no my friend, I’ve bypassed no one I claim unable to stomach having tried. I prefer sword and slash. I like Imaro by Charles R. Saunders as well. Look, I understand the natural order of things, but when I open a “novel” of which its writer claims “fantasy,” it should be fantasy. I just couldn’t swallow Butler (GOD!). And no, Mz. Due does not impress me with her King like spew nor her “to and fro” books (feminists make crappy writers anyhow). And furthermore, you have NOT read Howard “OR” Leiber. Neither could you read all of Howards work, like it, and “still” keep down Butler’s stew. UH-UH…Administrator! There’s no such animal! Who you trying to kid?

        • June K. Williams

          I am indeed the administrator although my usual sign in is under my name, June K. Williams. As to being able to enjoy a wide variety of styles and avenues in genre…sorry if you have trouble with that. In fact I can love a novel like “Our Lady of Darkness” by Lieber yet roll my eyes at his novel”The Wanderer” which garnered a HUGO!! As to feminists making “crappy” writers, does that mean you also dislike ALL of the works of Ursula LeGuin? On more of a mixed media front do you have issue with Wonder Woman, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Dark Angel and Xena Warrior Princess?

          • Jacob

            June K. Williams,

            I apologize for being rude.

      • Wendell Maurice King

        ii agree to that my brother

    • zoey

      I don’t get into the dark art of science fiction or fantasy. I’m more of the C.S. Lewis type, Robert E. Howard and yes I love Octavia Butler. The cool ones of today, Oz, Jack the giant slayer, etc, etc…Yeah, I wish there were more heroes and sheroes. Conan The Barbarian…yeah, and of course all the Conan movies had African American actors. Robert E. Howard describes us as Hybrid people. I love fantasy and it really doesn’t matter if they are non-African American…it’s another story when the movie comes out! Like Avatar..

  • Jacob

    Don’t be mad, I’ll pull out my violin. Sure, I like various styles too, Robert Asprin and such. Ursula LeGuin, much respect (did I say all? nay), but don’t dig her stories, just not me, tried that.

    “… with Wonder Woman, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Dark Angel and Xena Warrior Princess?”

    LMAO! Which here does not belong? Your nuts!
    WONDER WOMAN RULES! And as far as a “HUGO!!” is concerned, I could give a crap about a “HUGO!!,” “O”k
    (are you 12 years old?)

    • Mario Jenkins

      U r the problem

  • D.E.Rankin

    I have been writing Sci fi since 78. Completed 20 screenplays, 24 short stories, and 2 self published novels that i’m trying to turn into Graphic novels. Since coming to Hollywood in 84, I have gone into special efx props make up etc since i could not get my work read.

    Those african american studio owners ( is that about 2 ?) truely can’t compete in this genre. Enough of the boring typical black films, lets get into space etc. Sci-fi films and comic books are the way back in the game and we have unreachable black film stars who are out of touch with this genre. Who is going to change this?
    Its 2012 and I can’t believe we still aren’t in this game of fantacy.

    I myself want in!!!

    P.S this country has bred us to compete lets get onit H-wood!!!!!


      I agree with you 100%! I to am an aspiring black writer and self-taught artist who is struggling for a voice. Between raising and supporting my beautiful family, every page I write,every piece I create only stokes the flames of my imagination. IT IS LONG OVERDUE FOR A STRONG BLACK PRESENCE IN SCI-FI AND FANTASY!!! I want to help myself and others who have that same flame but may feel uneasy showing it just because they may think “black people don’t do that”. Keep striving and trying. DON’T GIVE UP!!!

  • June K. Williams

    Ah, the desire to make it in the movies. Quite a wish. 20 screenplays? Feature film length? Short? SF or some other genre? Agented? Have you had a chance to pitch anyone yet?

  • Zoap Soap

    I’d like to make a plug (self-inflicted) for “The Adventures of De’Ante Johnson: The Obsidian Knight”

  • Robyn McGee

    Thanks for this list, especially for including LA Banks. Check out my interview with Octavia Butler.

  • Chris tucker

    Well it seems that the fantasy authors and fans have dominated this blog but I like horror and its difficult to find great black horror authors that aren’t racist bulk crap. I was on facebook the other day and came across a page for a book cross my heart abd hope to kill. I was shocked when I found out a young black man wrote it. I bought a copy from Amazon and I loved it. It got me thinking, wht hasn’t this been picked up by a major publisher. It’s just another case of the black man having to flywhere everyone else can walk. It was only one of several books vy blacks that ive read that was published indeoendantly but is better than the stuff cauxasians have in the library

    • June K. Williams

      How about sharing the title of the book and the name of the author?

  • As a black author myself, I have found it tough sledding writing and then finding out “we” don’t read as much as “we” should, but as I research I’m finding black people are just tired of baby mama drama, thug gang bang crack selling books and movies as we all are, black people want scary good sci-fi books and movies remember “Blade?” Wesley Snipes day walker series, black people ate it up, we need to keep seeing awesome black characters and story lines, new black authors with fresh new stories and ideas, ideas so good they kick down the stereotypical doors of Hollywood and allow “us” the opportunity to show the world we can write great sci-fi and horror stuff too.

  • zoey

    If you know you are good, than you are good, so don’t worry about it. It takes time to find the right publisher especially when you are going the traditional way of getting published. Don’t be discourage, it will happen!

  • Nemo

    Alaya Dawn Johnson is another to include. I’ve been very hit and miss on her, but she’s won a number of awards for her books, so she’s certainly notable. Her book “The Summer Prince” won National Book Award Nominee for Young People’s Literature (2013), Andre Norton Award Nominee for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy (2013), Cybils Award for Young Adult Speculative Fiction (2013), James Tiptree Jr. Award Honor List (2013).