By Veronica Scott
Special to the Daily
In view of the events taking place all around our country and the world right now, I thought I should devote this month’s column to recommending science-fiction and fantasy books written by black authors. Part 1 was published June 21 and part 2 on June 28.
A source I turn to often is the Women of Color in Romance webpage at wocinromance.com. They update periodically and have the books slotted into genres and tropes for easy searching. I’ve discovered many new-to-me authors on their various lists.
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Here are some black authors and book recommendations from me:
I can’t say enough about the Hugo and Nebula Award-winning “Binti” (a trilogy) by Nnedi Okorafor. I immersed myself in it for several days of solid reading pleasure. Here’s a snippet from the book’s blurb: “… A young Himba girl with the chance of a lifetime: To attend the prestigious Oomza University. Despite her family’s concerns, Binti’s talent for mathematics and her aptitude with astrolabes make her a prime candidate to undertake this interstellar journey. But everything changes when the jellyfish-like Medusae attack Binti’s spaceship, leaving her the only survivor. …”
Daveed Diggs, William Hutson and Jonathan Snipes
“The Deep” by Rivers Solomon, Daveed Diggs, William Hutson and Jonathan Snipes is a timely, tough fantasy on my to-be-read list — from the blurb: “Yetu holds the memories for her people — water-dwelling descendants of pregnant African slave women thrown overboard by slave owners — who live idyllic lives in the deep. Their past, too traumatic to be remembered regularly, is forgotten by everyone, save one — the historian. This demanding role has been bestowed on Yetu. …”
Bethany C. Morrow
Bethany C. Morrow has written two highly intriguing speculative fiction novels, “MEM” and the just released “A Song Below Water: A Novel.” Here’s the beginning of the blurb for the latter: “In a society determined to keep her under lock and key, Tavia must hide her siren powers. Meanwhile, Effie is fighting her own family struggles, pitted against literal demons from her past. Together, these best friends must navigate through the perils of high school’s junior year. But everything changes in the aftermath of a siren murder trial that rocks the nation, and Tavia accidentally lets out her magical voice at the worst possible moment. …”
Reni K. Amayo
Reni K. Amayo’s Daughters of Nri: The Return of the Earth Mother series is also on my to-be-read list at the moment. Here’s the top level summary from the blurb: “A gruesome war results in the old gods’ departure from earth. The only remnants of their existence lie in two girls. Twins, separated at birth. Goddesses who grow up believing that they are human. Daughters of Nri explores their epic journey of self-discovery as they embark on a path back to one another. …”
Octavia E. Butler
And of course, there’s the late Octavia E. Butler (1947-2006), the Hugo and Nebula Award-winning Grand Dame of Science Fiction. “Kindred” is one of her masterpieces and here’s the blurb: “Dana, a modern black woman, is celebrating her 26th 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.”
A final resource suggestion from me: Don’t overlook FIYAH, the magazine of Black speculative fiction. Check them out at fiyahlitmag.com.
Hopefully, this small list will provide a few new-to-you authors — or remind you of longtime favorites — and some resources for finding more — because a voracious reader always needs fabulous new books to read, right?
As it relates to the times we’re living in, I’d like to add one more nonfiction book that I personally found immensely helpful. It was hard homework, but insightful and eye opening, even after all the many hours of diversity, equity and inclusion training (DEI) I’d had at various times with my previous day job employer. This book, which I read earlier in the year when the Romance Writers of America was imploding over its DEI issues — wow, that seems like last century — is challenging but turned on many light bulbs for me. “White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism” by Robin J. DiAngelo with a foreword by Michael Eric Dyson.
Sending my best wishes to you and your loved ones to stay safe and healthy because we’re not out of the pandemic yet, that’s for sure.
USA Today bestselling author Veronica Scott grew up in a house with a library at its heart. Her father loved science-fiction, her mother loved ancient history and Scott thought there needed to be more romance in everything. When she ran out of books to read, she started writing her own stories. Seven-time winner of the SFR Galaxy Award, as well as a National Excellence in Romance Fiction Award, Scott is also the proud recipient of a NASA Exceptional Service Medal relating to her former day job, not her romances. One of her favorite achievements is that she read the part of “Star Trek Crew Member” in the official audiobook production of Harlan Ellison’s, “The City On the Edge of Forever.” For more information, visit her blog at veronicascott.wordpress.com or find her on social media such as Twitter, @vscottheauthor, or Facebook, @VeronicaScottAuthor.