October is Black Speculative Fiction Month. A time to “celebrate the contributions of Black creators to all genres of speculative fiction”.
Black Speculative Fiction Month was “created in 2013 by Milton Davis and Balogun Ojetade in conjunction with the Auburn Avenue Research Library Alien Encounters program”.
The most important thing to remember is that the selection below is just the tip of the iceberg. There’s tons of great stuff out there. The fiction featured below, if I’m being honest, represents my recent reads and my TBR pile.
Niobe: She is Death Written by Sebastian A. Jones & Amandla Stenberg
A bounty has been put on Niobe’s head, and the collateral damage is immense, so the hopeful hero of Niobe: She is Life adopts a new approach.
Ring Shout by P. Djèlí Clark
In 1915, The Birth of a Nation cast a spell across America, swelling the Klan’s ranks and drinking deep from the darkest thoughts of white folk. All across the nation they ride, spreading fear and violence among the vulnerable. They plan to bring Hell to Earth. But even Ku Kluxes can die.
Standing in their way is Maryse Boudreaux and her fellow resistance fighters, a foul-mouthed sharpshooter and a Harlem Hellfighter. Armed with blade, bullet, and bomb, they hunt their hunters and send the Klan’s demons straight to Hell. But something awful’s brewing in Macon, and the war on Hell is about to heat up.
Can Maryse stop the Klan before it ends the world?
The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor LaValle
People move to New York looking for magic and nothing will convince them it isn’t there.
Charles Thomas Tester hustles to put food on the table, keep the roof over his father’s head, from Harlem to Flushing Meadows to Red Hook. He knows what magic a suit can cast, the invisibility a guitar case can provide, and the curse written on his skin that attracts the eye of wealthy white folks and their cops. But when he delivers an occult tome to a reclusive sorceress in the heart of Queens, Tom opens a door to a deeper realm of magic, and earns the attention of things best left sleeping.
A storm that might swallow the world is building in Brooklyn. Will Black Tom live to see it break?
New Suns: Original Speculative Fiction by People of Color edited by Nisi Shawl
“There’s nothing new under the sun, but there are new suns,” proclaimed Octavia E. Butler.
New Suns: Original Speculative Fiction by People of Color showcases emerging and seasoned writers of many races telling stories filled with shocking delights, powerful visions of the familiar made strange. Between this book’s covers burn tales of science fiction, fantasy, horror, and their indefinable overlappings. These are authors aware of our many possible pasts and futures, authors freed of stereotypes and clichés, ready to dazzle you with their daring genius.
Unexpected brilliance shines forth from every page.
Stone & Steel by Eboni Dunbar
In Stone and Steel, when General Aaliyah returns triumphant to the city of Titus, she expects to find the people prospering under the rule of her Queen, the stone mage Odessa. Instead, she finds a troubling imbalance in both the citizens’ wellbeing and Odessa’s rule. Aaliyah must rely on all of her allies, old and new, to do right by the city that made her.
This is Science Fiction’s new Golden Age. That is what they would have you believe. Short fiction markets are better than ever before, exploring ideas of equality, gender, sexuality, neurodivergence, disability, and most of all what it means to be human.
It really is science fiction’s new Golden Age.
If you’re white.
What does it mean to be Black and look at intersectional issues of equality through the lens of science fiction and fantasy? Where are those stories in the canon? There is Black excellence out there waiting to be discovered and not tokenized. Octavia Butler is our past and she is an amazing ancestor, but she should not be our only storyteller.
This is the future of Black SFF.
Incomplete Solutions by Wole Talabi
From the bustling streets of Lagos to the icy moons of Jupiter, this debut collection of twenty stories from the vivid imagination of the award-winning Wole Talabi explores what it means to be human in a world of accelerating technology, diverse beliefs, and unlimited potential, from a uniquely Nigerian perspective.
Filter House by Nisi Shawl
The collection’s fourteen tales offer a haunting montage that works its magic subtly on the reader’s subconscious.
The Liminal People by Ayize Jama-Everett
When his ex asks for help, Taggert risks the wrath of his enigmatic master to try and save her daughter. But as Taggert realizes the girl has more power than even he can imagine, he has to delve into the very nature of own skills and utilize his heart and soul to survive.
Mothership: Tales From Afrofuturism and Beyond edited by Bill Campbell
Mothership: Tales from Afrofuturism and Beyond is a groundbreaking speculative fiction anthology that showcases the work from some of the most talented writers inside and outside speculative fiction across the globe
The City: A Cuberfunk Anthology
The City anthology is a unique creation. It’s a concept anthology, a collection of stories where eighteen different authors share their vision of a single idea. It’s Cyberfunk, cyberpunk stories that play with future concepts from an African/African American perspective. Most of all it’s engaging, exciting, thought provoking and fun. Like the inhabitants, the City is perceived in various ways by the various writers. Some stories intersect, some diverge, but they all entertain. The result is a journey into a unique world described by unique and engaging voices.
Kabu-Kabu Stories by Nnedi Okorafor
Kabu kabu—unregistered illegal Nigerian taxis—generally get you where you need to go. Nnedi Okorafor’s Kabu Kabu, however, takes the reader to exciting, fantastic, magical, occasionally dangerous, and always imaginative locations you didn’t know you needed. This debut short story collection by an award-winning author includes notable previously published material, a new novella co-written with New York Times-bestselling author Alan Dean Foster, six additional original stories, and a brief foreword by Whoopi Goldberg.
A Killing in the Sun by Dilman Dila
‘A Killing in the Sun’ is a collection of speculative fiction from Africa. It draws from the rich oral culture of the author’s childhood, to tell a wide variety of stories. Some of the stories are set in a futuristic Africa, where technology has transformed everyday life and a dark force rules. Others are set in the present day, with refugee aliens from outer space, ghosts haunting brides and grooms, evil scientists stalking villages, and greedy corporations creating apocalypses. There are murder mysteries, tales of reincarnation and of the walking dead, and alternative worlds whose themes any reader will identify with. This collection is deftly crafted, running along the thin boundary of speculative and literary genres.
A witch, more machine than human, judges the character of the wicked and hands out justice in a ravaged Chicago. John Henry wields his mighty hammers in a war against machines and the undead. Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman rule a country of freed slaves that rivals – and often bests – England and France in power and technology. You will find all this – and much more – between the pages of Steamfunk, an anthology of incredible stories by some of today’s greatest authors of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Steamfunk – African and African American-inspired Steampunk.
Terminus: Tales of the Black Fantastic from the ATL
Atlanta. ATL. The Rising Phoenix. The City too Busy to Hate. The Black Mecca. Capital of the Deep South. There, between flitting shadows and full moons, exists another world filled with dark creatures, demons, and immortals. Only a thin veil separates the Atlanta you know from this mysterious realm. Nine brave authors risk it all to reveal the crossroads of Southern charm and the Black Fantastic. Y’all ready?
Griots: Sword and Soul Anthology
Magic. Myth. Warfare. Wonder. Beauty. Bravery. Glamour. Gore. Sorcery. Sensuality. These and many more elements of fantasy await you in the pages of Griots, which brings you the latest stories of the new genre called Sword and Soul.
The tales told in Griots are the annals of the Africa that was, as well as Africas that never were, may have been, or should have been. They are the legends of a continent and people emerging from shadows thrust upon them in the past. They are the sagas sung by the modern heirs of the African story-tellers known by many names – including griots.
Here, you will meet mighty warriors, seductive sorceresses, ambitious monarchs, and cunning courtesans. Here, you will journey through the vast variety of settings Africa offers, and inspires. Here, you will savor what the writings of the modern-day griots have to offer: journeys through limitless vistas of the imagination, with a touch of color and a taste of soul.
Midnight Robber by Nalo Hopkinson
It’s Carnival time and the Caribbean-colonized planet of Toussaint is celebrating with music, dance, and pageantry. Masked “Midnight Robbers” waylay revelers with brandished weapons and spellbinding words. To young Tan-Tan, the Robber Queen is simply a favorite costume to wear at the festival–until her power-corrupted father commits an unforgiveable crime.
Suddenly, both father and daughter are thrust into the brutal world of New Half-Way Tree. Here monstrous creatures from folklore are real, and the humans are violent outcasts in the wilds. Tan-Tan must reach into the heart of myth and become the Robber Queen herself. For only the Robber Queen’s legendary powers can save her life . . . and set her free.
Cirque Berserk by Jessica Guess
The summer of 1989 brought terror to the town of Shadows Creek, Florida in the form of a massacre at the local carnival, Cirque Berserk. One fateful night, a group of teens killed a dozen people then disappeared into thin air. No one knows why they did it, where they went, or even how many of them there were, but legend has it they still roam the abandoned carnival, looking for blood to spill.
Thirty years later, best friends, Sam and Rochelle, are in the midst of a boring senior trip when they learn about the infamous Cirque Berserk. Seeking one last adventure, they and their friends journey to the nearby Shadows Creek to see if the urban legends about Cirque Berserk are true. But waiting for them beyond the carnival gates is a night of brutality, bloodshed, and betrayal.
Will they make they it out alive, or will the carnival’s past demons extinguish their futures?
Dominion: An Anthology of Speculative Fiction from Africa and the African Diaspora
Dominion is the first anthology of speculative fiction and poetry by Africans and the African Diaspora. An old god rises up each fall to test his subjects. Once an old woman’s pet, a robot sent to mine an asteroid faces an existential crisis. A magician and his son time-travel to Ngoni country and try to change the course of history. A dead child returns to haunt his grieving mother with terrifying consequences. Candace, an ambitious middle manager, is handed a project that will force her to confront the ethical ramifications of her company’s latest project—the monetization of human memory. Osupa, a newborn village in pre-colonial Yorubaland populated by refugees of war, is recovering after a great storm when a young man and woman are struck by lightning, causing three priests to divine the coming intrusion of a titanic object from beyond the sky.
A magician teams up with a disgruntled civil servant to find his missing wand. A taboo error in a black market trade brings a man face-to-face with his deceased father—literally. The death of a King sets off a chain of events that ensnare a trickster, an insane killing machine, and a princess, threatening to upend their post-apocalyptic world. Africa is caught in the tug-of-war between two warring Chinas, and for Ibrahima torn between the lashings of his soul and the pain of the world around him, what will emerge? When the Goddess of Vengeance locates the souls of her stolen believers, she comes to a midwestern town with a terrible past, seeking the darkest reparations. In a post-apocalyptic world devastated by nuclear war, survivors gather in Ife-Iyoku, the spiritual capital of the ancient Oyo Empire, where they are altered in fantastic ways by its magic and power.
The Silence of the Wilting Skin by Tlotlo Tsamaase
In an African city, a nameless young woman living in the wards slowly begins to lose her identity: her skin color is peeling off, people are becoming invisible, and the city plans to destroy the train where they bury their dead. After the narrator is given a warning by her grandmother’s dreamskin, things begin to fall apart. Struggling to hold onto a fluctuating reality, she prescribes herself insomnia in a desperate attempt to save her family.