By Self-Love Contributing Editor Taylre R. Malloy
When people think of science fiction as a genre, they usually think of books about dystopian societies occupying other planets with all-powerful sentient cyborg technological advancements, written predominately by white men in their late forties.
These books are widely considered masterpieces of science fiction and literature, but at the same time fail to depict the entire saga of humanity’s possible futures. Afro-futurism depicts the future as told from the eyes of the African diaspora. Below are three stellar Afro-futuristic novels destined to transport your imagination into new realms.
Wild Seed By Octavia Butler
I first encountered Octavia Butler’s Wild Seed during my senior year in high-school. Although Wild Seed was not on the approved book list for my AP Literature course, I quickly became addicted to the novel’s breathtaking story line, supernatural Afro-futuristic language and scenery, and cosmically addictive characters.
As a breathtaking love story across dimensions, space, and time, Wild Seed reconnects souls from past, present, and future. Exploring power dynamics between two divinely cosmic beings, Wild Seed depicts the inter-dimensional story of Doro and Anyanwu.
As with the lives of most immortals, relationships, love, and memory pass through Doro and Anyanwu’s life like sunsets. Each navigates the world in their own supernatural way, fusing and gaining experiences from mortals, and always knowing that immortality itself comes with a price. Their superhuman gifts connect them and like gravity, Anyanwu and Doro are drawn to each other. Not even time can sever their bond.
As a true speculative fiction hybrid, Wild Seed welcomes readers immediately into the supernatural world of black immortality. For 3700 years, Doro has survived this plane by inhabiting the bodies of the souls he has taken. Doro occupies his time by gathering humans who also have special talents like his. These special humans, whom most would consider witches due to abilities like telepathy or telekinesis, are bred in order to create more meta-humans like Doro. Over the centuries, Doro has yet to meet anyone who even comes close to being his equal. That is until he finds Anyanwu.
Dark Matter: A Century of Speculative Fiction from the African Diaspora
Being the ultimate science fiction nerd, I read Dark Matter during my junior year in college and I’m certainly glad I did. As an anthology, Dark Matter features a plethora of out of this word writers and seers such as Octavia Butler, Nalo Hopkinson, and Stephen Barnes.
In, Derrick Bell’s The Space Traders, we learn of a rather interesting future in which Bell imagines that extraterrestrials offer to give the United States significant advancements in modern technology if all people within the African diaspora can be taken away to outer space and to a planet much more peaceful than Earth is due to factors such as racism, white supremacy, and systematic imperialism.
In light of the recent Black Lives Matter protests worldwide, these stories offer powerful ways to re-imagine the world through new lenses in order to transcend the pain and suffering of all races systematically affected by imperialism and white supremacy.
This awe-inspiring anthology concludes with a breathtaking essay by Octavia Butler called, The Monophobic Response, in which she deeper explores Afro-futuristic concepts involving aliens and the beauty of Black life in galaxies beyond our own.
War Girls by Tochi Onyebuchi
The year is 2172 and climate change and nuclear disasters have rendered much of earth unlivable and only the lucky ones have escaped to space colonies in the sky.
In a war-torn Nigeria, battles are fought using flying, deadly mechs and soldiers are outfitted with bionic limbs and artificial organs meant to protect them from the harsh, radiation-heavy climate.
Two sisters, Onyii and Ify, dream of more yet their world requires their sacrifice. Their lives have been marked by violence and political unrest. Still, they dream of peace, hope, and a future together in a world of peace.
I fell in love with this book during the summer of 2020, as I fought the system for my own freedom. Through modern America is often a reflection of a 400 year battle for freedom against racism and white supremacy, War Girls illuminates this same battle as two sisters fight an entire war just to find their peace. I found this novel in particular to be a great representation of the past, present, and future of afro-futurism as a whole.