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Black History Month

By / February 3, 2017 / no comments

It’s Black History Month (and why pick the shortest month of the year for such a momentous subject), and that seems like a good excuse to look at the black contribution to science fiction.

W.E.B. Du Bois in 1918

Black writers have made a pretty big contribution to the history of science fiction, but as in so many things (the role of women writers, for instance) it often tends to get overlooked. Even if we fix our attention purely on English language science fiction, black writers have have been producing sf stories at least back to the beginning of the twentieth century. W.E.B. Du Bois, the great sociologist, activist and historian, who was the first African-American to get a doctorate from Harvard and who went on to found the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, wrote a handful of science fiction stories. They’re not always readily accessible nowadays, but one is included in The Big Book of Science Fiction.

Black writers have been contributing to science fiction ever since. Some are famous (Samuel R. Delany, Octavia E. Butler), most are less so. But there’s still a lot of writers out there that you should be reading. And now that we are starting to become aware of science fiction from Africa, India, the Caribbean, and elsewhere around the world, there are more and more black sf writers we should be paying attention to.

So, throughout the month, I’ll be doing occasional posts about black writers, some obvious, others perhaps less so. But however many posts I do, there will be an awful lot of writers I have to miss out. So keep your eyes open.


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