Monday, October 29, 2018

Black Speculative Fiction Month

Ruth de Jauregui

From The State of Black Science Fiction Facebook Group
As the month of October winds down, I want to talk about Black Speculative Fiction Month. It was born in 2013, when indie authors Milton Davis and Balogun Ojetade were discussing the Alien Encounters event with the Program Coordinator at the Auburn Avenue Research Library. The concept blossomed into reality the next day.

Available at MVmedia
While some science fiction and fantasy fans may wonder why a month is needed to celebrate Black speculative fiction, it is a sad fact that for many, many years publishers somehow thought that there wasn't a market for books by and for Black readers. And even more strangely, they believed that the rest of us wouldn't buy and enjoy books with Black (plus other POC and female) protagonists. Well, the creators are proving the major publishers wrong!

As Ojetade said in his blog post celebrating the first Black Speculative Fiction Month: "Why? Because every day we meet Black people who have never imagined Black folks writing and reading speculative fiction; especially science fiction. Why? Because a recent poll among young people found that the most popular genres were science fiction and fantasy. Why? Because every prominent scientist in the US listed that they read science fiction." From the Chronicles of Harriet blog.

Davis has his own publishing company and has put all the books on sale until October 31st. MVmedia, LLC features his own, Ojetade's, and the founder of the sword and soul genre, Charles S. Saunders' books, plus several anthologies. There's also a selection of graphic novels for comics fans. Personally, I highly recommend From Here to Timbuktu for older teens and adults and Amber and the Hidden City for tweens and teens.

As an avid speculative fiction fan and aspiring author, I simply can't imagine that anyone would think there isn't a market for books by and for Black fans! Yet, that's been a reality for far too long. Thanks to the indie market, the choices for speculative fiction fans have vastly expanded and caught the attention of major publishers. New books published by traditional publishers include Dread Nation by Justine Ireland (highly recommended by me!), A Blade So Black by L.L. McKinney, The Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi and, of course, the award-winning books of Nnedi Okorafor.

Until recently, however, there was a serious lack of resources for a diverse audience of teen and YA readers. My own search through my personal library for a book for my youngest son led to the creation of Alien Star Books. Intended for teens and young adults of Color, it has room for all teen and YA speculative fiction books, both indie and traditionally published. My focus is on diverse protagonists. There's a page for each demographic, ranging from Black to Differently Abled to Non-Humans and Aliens. 

As we approach the end of October and Black Speculative Fiction Month, I invite you to check out the resources and books available to science fiction and fantasy fans. From zombies to steamfunk to outer space, there's a fantastic story for every fan!

Resources for readers:
Alien Star Books 
Chronicles of Harriet 
MVmedia, LLC 
The State of Black Science Fiction Facebook Group
The Black Science Fiction Society Facebook Group and Website 

Look for my next post on hummingbird magnets for fall and winter on Friday, November 2nd.

And don't forget to submit your flash fiction! They're due by end of the day tomorrow, October 30!