African American Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Authors
To 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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
Other notable black authors in the field are:
David Anthony Durham
George S. Schuyler
Judith Woolcock Colombo
by June K. Williams
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