11 Afrofuturism Books That Blend Science Fiction, Technology, and Black Culture
As author and scholar Ytasha L. Womack explains, Afrofuturism is an artistic genre that blends imagination, technology, Black cultures, liberation, and mysticism. It is a "way of looking at the future and alternate realities through a Black cultural lens," including those from Africa and the African diaspora. Typically seen through an artistic aesthetic of music, visual art, dance, film, or literature, Womack also explains that the genre can be a method of self-liberation and healing by using imagination to transcend circumstances and creating agency.
Currently, Marvel's Black Panther film is the most popular example of Afrofuturism. In literature, authors from Womack to Octavia E. Butler to N.K. Jemisin and so many more are acclaimed for their work in the space.
Whether you are looking for an imaginative and liberating read or are looking for a suggestion for the 2021 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge's Afrofuturism prompt, pick up one of these Afrofuturist favorites.
Though most of her works were published before the term Afrofuturism was officially coined, Octavia E. Butler is often credited for being an original and influential figure in the genre. Critics note that her work is often multiethnic and multispecies, which is outside of the true Afrofuturism definition, but there's no doubt her award-winning writing was an influence for generations to come.
One of Butler's most well-known pieces, Kindred ($15), follows a modern Black woman who is kidnapped from her California home and brought to the antebellum South to save the white son of a plantation owner. Repeatedly brought back, the stay grows longer each time and she is unsure when it might end.
Afrofuturism: The World of Black Sci-Fi and Fantasy Culture
Pulling from past and present-day artistic works, Afrofuturism: The World of Black Sci-Fi and Fantasy Culture ($14) by Ytasha L. Womack entertains and enlightens readers on Afrofuturists' goal to empower individuals while breaking down racial, ethnic, and social limitations.
Children of Blood and Bone
Time named Tomi Adeyemi one of its 100 most influential people of 2020 after the release of her debut novel, Children of Blood and Bone ($17), an instant New York Times bestseller. A West African-inspired fantasy, the book fuses magic and danger as Zélie has one chance to strike back against the monarchy.
An Unkindness of Ghosts
With many awards and accolades, An Unkindness of Ghosts ($37) by Rivers Solomon was one of the best books of 2017. Born into slavery, Aster is trying to escape from the segregated spaceship she lives on, which has brought the last of humanity to the Promised Land for generations.