A Beginner’s Guide to Afrofuturism



By Kathleen Uy

The popularity of the movie “Black Panther,” Janelle Monáe’s “Dirty Computer” album, and now the new Hulu series “Kindred” (based on the book by Octavia Butler) have brought the genre of Afrofuturism to the forefront. But what exactly is Afrofuturism? The term was coined by scholar Mike Dery in 1993, as a way of defining existing trends that focused on Black literature and 1980s technoculture and is often associated with the science fiction genre but can also encompass other fantasy genres. The first science fiction novel by a Black author is attributed to Martin R. Delany who wrote “Blake, or the Huts of America” (1859).


Dark Matter

Edited by Sheree R. Thomas
If you find yourself intrigued by the genre, a great place to start would be with “Dark Matter: a century of speculative fiction from the African diaspora,” edited by Sheree R. Thomas, award winning author and current editor of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. The book, published in 2000, is not only the first anthology of science fiction by African American authors but considered by experts as one of the best introductions to the genre.

It includes 25 stories, three novel excerpts and five essays. There are contributions from historical writers like W.E.B. Du Bois (“The Comet,” 1929), well-known authors like Octavia Butler (“The Evening and The Morning and The Night,” 1987) and Samuel R. Delaney (“Aye, and Gomorrah”) and newer writers like Nalo Hopkinson (“Ganger [Ball Lightning]”). Many of the authors will be recognizable to readers, like Walter Mosley, whose “Black to the Future” (1999) is a critical essay on what he believes will be an explosion of Black Science Fiction authors.


by Octavia Butler (1979)
A young African-American writer, Dana (Edana) Franklin, finds herself traveling back and forth through time from 1976 Los Angeles to a pre-Civil War plantation in Maryland.



Ring Shout: or Hunting Klu Kluxes in the end times
by P. Djèlè Clark (2020)
In 1922 Georgia, a gang of resistance fighters including a war vet, a sharpshooter and a magical sword wielder, battle the evil Klan.



by Nnedi Okorafor (2015)
A young Himba Earth woman, against the wishes of her family, runs away to board a ship to Oomza, after she is the first of her people accepted into the prestigious intergalactic Oomza University.

Kathleen Uy is adult/teen services librarian for Montgomery County Public Libraries, White Oak Library.


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