Posts tagged fantasy
Posts tagged fantasy
Books on Science Fiction and Black Speculative Critical Analysis
1. The Black Imagination: Science Fiction, Futurism and the Speculative (Black Studies and Critical Thinking) (2011) by Sandra Jackson - This critical collection covers a broad spectrum of works, both literary and cinematic, and issues from writers, directors, and artists who claim the science fiction, speculative fiction, and Afro-futurist genres.
2. Black Space: Imagining Race in Science Fiction Film (2008) by Adilifu Nama - The first book-length study of African American representation in science fiction film, Black Space demonstrates that SF cinema has become an important field of racial analysis, a site where definitions of race can be contested and post-civil rights race relations (re)imagined.
3. Race in American Science Fiction (2011) by Isiah Lavender III - Race in American Science Fiction offers a systematic classification of ways that race appears and how it is silenced in science fiction, while developing a critical vocabulary designed to focus attention on often-overlooked racial implications. These focused readings of science fiction contextualize race within the genre’s better-known master narratives and agendas.
4. Horror Noire: Blacks in American Horror Films from 1890s to Present (2011) by Robin Means Coleman - Horror Noire presents a unique social history of blacks in America through changing images in horror films. Throughout the text, the reader is encouraged to unpack the genre’s racialized imagery, as well as the narratives that make up popular culture’s commentary on race. Offering a comprehensive chronological survey of the genre, this book addresses a full range of black horror films, including mainstream Hollywood fare, as well as art-house films, Blaxploitation films, direct-to-DVD films, and the emerging U.S./hip-hop culture-inspired Nigerian “Nollywood” Black horror films.
Recently, I put out the call for Black creators of Speculative works to join me in putting on the 2nd Annual Black Science Fiction and Fantasy…
When children use Science Fiction and Fantasy writing techniques and tropes they are often using their writing to explore themselves and their world, without any need for guidance and literal knowledge.
On the surface they are writing about zombies, spaceships and vampires, but do not be fooled –they are using these devices in the same way as Octavia Butler, Charles Saunders, Tananarive Due and Walter Mosley – to cloak methods of exploring and explaining – and finding explanations for – their worlds – both internal and external – in a way that straightforward ‘literal’ fiction cannot.
Realism has become a trap for black children and they realize it. According to my young students, who range in age from nine to fifteen, they tire of reading and writing stories that are about “problems” and crave fantastic tales of derring-do with cool, young, Black heroes and heroines.
Science fiction and fantasy offers black children an alternative way of dealing with legacy, tradition, and memory.
Rasheedah introduced us to her thoughts on the book, talking about the mechanisms, agency and significance of time travel in Kindred. She spoke of how she considered the immaterial methods that pulled the protagonist Dana, from her reality and into the antebellum past, was like an act of abduction (kidnapping) and that the question of who controlled this life changing act (Dana or Rufus) was also significant, in both examples, alluding to the realities of the slave trade and the slave plantation system. She elaborated on the idea that Octavia Butler challenged and subverted the well-known “Grandfather Paradox” trope in science fiction. Rasheedah described how the paradox, which in its most base definition, negates the possibility of time travel and is often predicated as a way to prevent a future evil, is actually turned on its heels by Butler, because of the fact that Dana has to continuously save the life of her ancestor, in order for him to commit the evil act that will preserve her own existence. She spoke about how this technique actually returned agency to Dana, giving her a semblance of choice, as harsh as it may have seemed, of whether to live or die.
John then turned to his thoughts on Kindred, as not so much a science fiction text, but more an “ethno-gothic” story. He combined ideas of the American South as a “haunted space” in reference especially to the Black experience. He spoke of the symbolic reading of the Black body as a text, especially in reference to Dana, a modern Black woman who finds herself mis-read as a slave by her ancestors, and who eventually has to re-write her body text in order to survive in the past. This form of “stereotyping” of Dana by her ancestors, he describes as a continuous proliferation of an idea, which occurs through writing and publishing. He elaborates with the example of a palimpsest, where he speaks of the “KUNTOBY” process. In this example, he refers to the scene in the television series, Roots, where Kunta Kinte – the “African”, is literally beaten or re-written, into becoming Toby – the slave, by the overseer and the whip. This form of Black “body horror”, in this “gothic space” becomes the “ethno-gothic”.
Read more, and see some of John’s Kindred illustrations(!), at M. Asli Dukan’s (Invisible Universe Documentary) blog
The Shadows Took Shape book club discussion centered around Octavia E. Butler’s classic novel Kindred will be a robust, interactive concept driven experience. Part conversation, part interactive workshop, there will be overarching thematic presentations, energetic discussion, and audience-driven related activities that are designed to effectively delve into this multi-layered and perennially relevant masterpiece.
Part of the discussion will focus on various aspects of time, memory and agency via the perspective of the protagonist; Dana Franklin. Other themes in the discussion will include analyzing the black body as text and re-imagining Kindred as a Gothic narrative that uses the supernatural to engage with shared historical trauma. Finally, the interactive workshop will focus on the artifacts found scattered throughout the narrative, and participants are encouraged to bring their own, small artifact to include in the workshop.
From the origins of the genres, images of Black people in fantasy, horror and science fiction or speculative fiction (SF) have been inauthentic at best in the imaginations of white creators. From the “Fantastic Voyages” of the 1700s where Black pirates kidnapped white explorers to far off “alien” lands, to technologically advanced futures where Black people didn’t exist in any significant population, to post-nuclear holocaust America where modern Blacks took on aggressive pre-civilized behaviors, many of these ideas have created lasting impressions in the minds of their audiences and future creators. And though there were a few attempts by some white writers to use the genres for social commentary, for instance on race relations, these efforts were few and far in between.
There is however a significant output of work by Black creators, who used the techniques and themes of the genres to write alternative stories and to produce films that spoke closer to the realities of Black life. At the turn of the 20th century, Black writers wrote utopian and fantastical novels set during the days of slavery and Reconstruction. Independent Black filmmakers created low budget feature films exploring the effects of science and fantastical religious beliefs on the Black imagination. Harlem Renaissance writers jumped into the genre with “mad scientist” and “end of the world” scenarios commenting on the American race relations. In the 1960’s and 1970’s, two powerful and original voices emerged in the SF world writing tales with more inclusive pasts, presents and futures. Also in the 1970s, Black anti-heroes utilized science and the supernatural to secure Black justice. And later, there was the emergence of Black superheroes, who, though ready, willing and able to save the entire universe, first had to fight a homogenous industry.
Brought to life via interviews, film and event clips, text, graphics, music and narration, this documentary ultimately reveals that though often intermittent and mostly unseen, there is a canon of artistic work by Black creators in the SF genres, creating a universe all its own.
In honor of the upcoming, major group exhibition The Shadows Took Shape, please join The Studio Museum in Harlem for a new series of book club discussions moderated by prominent artists, scholars, and bloggers interested in science fiction and speculative literature. Discussions include nationally recognized cartoonist, designer and graphic novelist Professor John Jennings and "The AfroFuturist Affair" creator Rasheedah Phillips and more. These moderators were chosen to incite intriguing viewpoints, so there will definitely be a wonderful balance between deep, insightful discussion about the books and a profound engagement with Afrofuturism and related themes!
In Octavia Butler’s Kindred, Dana, a modern black woman, is celebrating her twenty-sixth birthday with her new husband when she is snatched abruptly from her home in California and transported to the antebellum South. Rufus, the white son of a plantation owner, is drowning, and Dana has been summoned to save him. Dana is drawn back repeatedly through time to the slave quarters, and each time the stay grows longer, more arduous, and more dangerous until it is uncertain whether or not Dana’s life will end, long before it has a chance to begin.
Additional scheduled Book Club dates:
December 15: Nalo Hopkinson, Brown Girl in the Ring (1998)
January 26: Samuel R. Delany, Nova (1968)
February 23: Colson Whitehead, The Intuitionist (1999)
March 6: Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man (1952)
All of the books listed above are available in the Studio Museum bookstore!
To RSVP for the Book Club, please email email@example.com.
Photo: Paul Sepuya
From October 11, 2013 to March 9, 2014, Brooklyn-based artist Wangechi Mutu’s will land at the Brooklyn Museum for her latest exhibition “Wangechi Mutu: A Fantastic Journey.” Known for her stimulating collages merging female subjects with animal, plant and machine parts, Mutu’s work takes inspiration from the fashion industry, pornography, science fiction, African traditions and more in her collection of mixed-media pieces.
Teen Science Fiction
5 Tumblrs for the Sci-Fi/Fantasy Enthusiast of Color
In my search for sci-fi and fantasy resources, I stumbled upon some great Tumblrs for (mostly)…
Nice!!! Persephone Magazine included The AfroFuturist Affair on their list of 5 Sci-Fi/Fantasy Tumblrs of Color! Truly appreciate the love:) All of the tumblrs listed are awesome.
GREAT BLACK AUTHORS OF SCIENCE FICTION & FANTASY: Past & Present
The Black presence and impact on the world of speculative fiction is a vast and powerful one. Some of these authors you may have heard of; some you may not have. Some will absolutely surprise you. All of them tell Blacknificent stories.
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Nalo Hopkinson, author of Brown Girl in the Ring and Sister Mine, joins us to discuss the sexual subtext of “Goblin Market,” the fallout from RaceFail ’09, and creating a character who used to be Jimi Hendrix’s guitar.