Whenever I do a discussion post, I aim for Monday and this one is piggy-backing off my TBR from Wednesday (9/1): Sci-Fi September & Buddy Reads. For this post, I asked a couple of my favorite Booktubers to lend a hand. As far as I’m concerned they are by far the most knowledgable when it comes to Black Science Fiction and Fantasy.
In case you’re unaware, I’m participating in the Sci-Fi September readathon and I made a conscious decision to focus on Black authors with Black protagonists. I feel, in general, literature by BIPOC authors gets overlooked, is underrated, and under-hyped in the book community. We often read, review, and put greater emphasis and value on the same books typically by White cishet authors while simultaneously ignoring and devaluing the works of BIPOC authors.
Having said that, for this discussion, I wanted to focus on Black Science Fiction and Fantasy authors because in my opinion their craft is consistently ignored, devalued, and erroneously compared to the work of White authors. Prior to becoming a part of Booktube two years ago and finding Thistle and Verse and Onyx Pages channels , I’d read very little SFF written by Black authors with Black protagonists. And it wasn’t until I found them that I really began reading and learning about Black SFF and wondering (1) why I hadn’t read more SFF by Black authors and (2) why I had not heard of many of the authors they talked about.
The answers are simple:
- Availability, or the lack thereof. I work at a bookstore and I’m constantly ordering or requesting books to be ordered by Black authors and sometimes it’s like pulling teeth. We’ll get a whopping one book in and it sells and the then we never get it back unless someone (i.e. yours truly) requests it.
- Publishers don’t really market and get behind Black authors like the do White authors. They’re getting better, but there’s still A LOT of work to be done.
- This realization falls squarely on me. And that is, I simply did not see out Black SFF. Shame on me.
Because of Thistle and Verse and Onyx Pages I’ve discovered SO MANY authors like Nicky Drayden, Tananarive Due and her husband, Steven Barnes and learned more about authors like Tade Thompson and Nalo Hopkinson. Through their reviews, I have also discovered the richness, complexities, and beauty of Black SFF. I’m still learning themes of Afrofuturism and Africanfuturism and how SFF written by Black authors differs from SFF written by White authors.
As you read through Thistle and Verse‘s recommendations, I
encourage challenge you to pick up AND read one or more of them. And to help you out, September is the perfect month to read Black SFF because it’s Sci-Fi September. It’s a month long readathon created and hosted by Saajid at Books Are My Social Life. You can check out Saajid’s announcement video HERE. There is also a Twitter page and Discord which I recommend you check out.
FYI: Onyx Pages was unable to provide recommendations for this post due to prior commitments. I hope to have her in the future, but in the meantime make sure you check out her Booktube channel. Currently she has a wonderful series going on called Written with Purpose where she interviews a Black SFF author.
Alright, now let’s get to Thistle and Verse‘s recommendations.
Thistle and Verse Recommends
MagnifiqueNOIR by Briana Lawrence
Let me know in comments if you’ve heard of and/or read any of the authors mentioned.
Also share your experience with reading Black SFF. What did you like and/or didn’t like about it?
About Thistle and Verse
Thistle & Verse reviews science fiction, fantasy, and supernatural horror by Black authors. Folklore will always have a special place in her heart. In 2020 she created the Black SFFathon, a readathon dedicated to uplifting speculative fiction by Black authors and in 2021 she hosted the Broken Earth Readalong that ran from May 15 to August 21. Additionally she is a co-administrator of SOULar Powered: Afrofuturism Slow Reading Group, a virtual book club dedicated to reading speculative fiction with Black protagonists and a particular interest in queer stories.