Colson Whitehead’s novel The Underground Railroad is a necessary reading for the ways it transcends a violent history and navigates the magic of self determination and Black personhood. The novel, published in 2016 and winner of the Pulitzer Prize and National Book awards for fiction, follows the life of Cora and Caesar, two slaves in 19th century Georgia who take on the treacherous journey that is their freedom. The novel is bold, loving, and powerful, and with its serving as the basis for director Barry Jenkins’ (Moonlight, If Beale Street Could Talk) Amazon series by the same name, it has become necessary viewing.Continue reading “Barry Jenkins and the Cast of ‘The Underground Railroad’ Talk About the Powerful Limited Series”
Rebecca Roanhorse is no stranger to writing worlds and realities beyond our own. A speculative fiction writer of both novels and short fiction, she is a recipient of both the Hugo Award and the Nebula Award. Her work often features indigenous characters as the leads; such as her Sixth World series where a Dinétah monster slayer navigates a post-apocalyptic world filled with gods and monsters of legend. Continue reading “Author Rebecca Roanhorse Makes Her ‘Star Wars’ Universe Debut with ‘Resistance Reborn’”
With historic Oscar nominations for Get Out and record-breaking ticket pre-sales for Black Panther, 2018 is shaping up to be a watershed year for mainstream genre pictures that center Black characters. Acclaimed speculative fiction writers and educators Tananarive Due and Steven Barnes, who currently offer an online course dedicated to Jordan Peele’s box office phenomenon, join Keith for a frank discussion of both films and their place in American popular culture.
As a writer, storyteller, and a queer person of color, it goes without saying that diversity and inclusion is very important to me.
Anyone who’s known me for five seconds is aware of the fact that I’m a rabid comic book fan. It’s modern day mythology and as a writer and an artist, this medium especially appeals to me for obvious reasons. Watching beautiful muscular men is a pastime that I can live with.
With June being #LGBTQPrideMonth, I would be remiss if I didn’t pay tribute to my brother and comrade, fellow gay Wakandan speculative fiction author, Nicholas Almand.
Last week, Abrams Books finally released the highly anticipated graphic novel adaptation of Octavia Butler’s classic novel, Kindred. Created by our friends John Jennings and Damian Duffy — collectively known as J2D2, the book has already shot to the top of the New York Times bestseller list for hardcover graphic novels! To celebrate this momentous occasion, revisit my conversation with them recorded last summer during San Diego Comic-Con. The conversation is also available via podcast from Soundcloud (embedded below). Please remember to subscribe to Hard NOC Life on YouTube or iTunes and leave us a rating and review so folks can find us there! And don’t forget to get your own copy of Kindred.
This is an excerpt from a book I started in 2008. I wanted to take a more academic approach to afrogeek and afrofuturist culture and cultural artifacts. I felt this section was important in the present, in light of our new political reality. The books is done, but I’m not sure how I feel about publishing an academic text in a time when we need information to be as clear as possible. Continue reading “Butler, Dystopia, Propaganda, and a Way Through?”
This has been a dispiriting couple of weeks. We are facing a new political reality and now, I feel, there is an increased social, political, and creative urgency — something I’ve never felt before. To address this, me and a few local Bay Area creators have decided to launch AfroGeeks Unite! It is a small initiative that aims to get more POC youth (particularly black youth) involved in the speculative fiction (used as a catchall for SF, comics, horror, etc.) community.
October is Black Speculative Fiction Month and like legions of others, I am celebrating it something fierce.
Why does Black Speculative Fiction Month matter?
Black Speculative Fiction Month matters because now more than ever our stories must be told and our voices must be heard. Black Speculative Fiction Month matters because too often at cons and writing events, I’m the only nonwhite guest in attendance.
This January, Abrams Books will be publishing a graphic novel adaptation of Octavia Butler’s classic novel, Kindred. At San Diego Comic-Con, we had the opportunity to talk with the creators behind the graphic novel, John Jennings and Damian Duffy — collectively known as J2D2, as they were signing galley copies of the book!
Like many others I was saddened and heartbroken to hear about the passing of esteemed speculative fiction author Eugie Foster. In addition to being one of the most gifted writers I’ve ever encountered, Eugie was the personification of grace and class. I was honored to consider Eugie both a colleague and a friend.
Before we get into the rest of my full endorsement of Midnight Taxi Tango, I feel the need to ask a question: What kind of Ouija board does author Daniel José Older have access to? Is he somehow hotline blingin’ with the underworld? The way he writes about the dead, the half-dead, the preternatural and the politics that govern them — it reads more like dictation than creation. There are some genuinely creepy scenes in MTT. Skin crawling, looking over your shoulder, peering into shadows to see who is there, creepy. Other scenes are damn frightening. Let me put it to you this way: weaponized ghosts of babies who are hungry and out to devour you. Borderline nightmare stuff. What really works about this novel, and the “Bone Street Rumba” series as a whole, is that none of the scares are cheap. Every scare is legitimate. Every scare is necessary to the tale. This is evidence of Older’s mastery of his narrative.
Here is his interview from the 2nd Annual Black Comix Arts Festival:
The Liminal War: A Novel by Ayize Jama-Everett drops this week. In preparation for this much awaited sequel, I urge all of you to read the book that started it all, The Liminal People: A Novel. You will not be disappointed. I will post a Liminal War review in within the next week, or two.
First off, The Liminal People isn’t the X-Men and [insert some other superhero franchise]. Whenever there are characters with extra-normal abilities, someone always wants to toss the X-franchise about. If you wanted to make a more accurate comparison, you would have to compare The Liminal People to the old ’60s British television program, The Champions (Google if you don’t know) — albeit the book is a lot more diverse. In a Spec/Fic publishing world that loves little white vampires and werewolves, or little white magic users, or little white vampire hunters, or little white companions on a quest to fight the big black enemy, Liminal is a refreshing burst of the real world. It is the first truly global Spec/Fic book of the 21st century.
Being an author, understandably more than a few people have wanted my thoughts on the Hugo/Sad Puppies controversy. For those of you just joining us, this piece by fellow Nerd of Color Arthur Chu gives an excellent summary here.
Before I go any further, let me preface by saying this. As a writer, awards and accolades don’t even rank in terms of priorities. Don’t get me wrong, they’re awesome and I appreciate the honor as much as the next person but it goes back to a point my friend Pauline Trent and I discussed one day. There are generally two types of artists — and by artists I mean visual artists, writers, musicians, dancers, etc. The first type of artist is one who wants to be world renowned as a great artist. The second type of artist simply wants to produce as much work as they can possibly produce. More often than not, the latter leads to the former.
Whether it’s an essay, a social media update, or a novel, whenever I write, I have three objectives in mind: to enlighten, to entertain and to empower. So while awards may not be a priority for many writers, we still acknowledge the huge accomplishment in having one’s work recognized by industry peers and fans alike. Over the years, the Hugos have recognized some truly gifted authors. I’m honored to call a couple Hugo nominees good personal friends of mine. But as this fiasco just illustrated, the Hugos are yet another symptom of a corrupt system that is the publishing industry.
Since The Nerds of Color is not the only awesome thing on the internet, we spent the holiday break scouring the web for some of the most NOC-relevant links around. Here are six things that have gotten the most buzz around the N.O.C. offices.
The folks over at Comics Alliance have posted some New Year’s resolutions for the comic book industry that we can all get behind.
Among their 10 Diversity Resolutions for Superhero Comics in 2014, this one is probably the most important. Heck, they even say so themselves!
These resolutions aren’t ordered by importance, but if superhero publishers only make one pledge in 2014, this one matters most; we need more minority creators in the industry. More editors, more pencillers, inkers, colorists and cover artists, and, perhaps most importantly, more writers. If the people making comics are as diverse as their potential audience, the comics they make are more likely to reflect and appeal to that audience.
Recently, a perennial discussion about diversity, or lack thereof, amongst writers of speculative fiction, and their characters, storylines, settings, and perspectives, blew up on the Internet, resulting in the hashtag #DiversityinSFF
To investigate the fall out of that discussion, Jason Sperber (@dad_strangeland) fills in as guest host and welcomes a trio of speculative fiction writers (and fellow Nerds) of Color: Walidah Imarisha (@walidahimarisha), Claire Light (@seelight), and Daniel Jose Older (@djolder) on “Hard N.O.C. Life.”
“The difference between stupid and intelligent people – and this is true whether or not they are well-educated – is that intelligent people can handle subtlety. They are not baffled by ambiguous or even contradictory situations – in fact, they expect them and are apt to become suspicious when things seem overly straightforward.” — Constable Moore, The Diamond Age
Neal Stephenson’s 1995 science fiction classic, The Diamond Age: Or, A Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer, blew me away when I first read it as an idealistic NOC-in-training. I interpreted it as a heartwarming coming-of-age story about a down-and-out little girl named Nell who stumbled upon a copy of the Primer, a multi-disciplinary interactive textbook designed to train an upper-class girl to adulthood. She saves herself and the world through what she learns from the Primer. Girl power! The end!
It turns out, upon a recent re-reading, that I failed to recognize about ten other layers of the onion, all of them much heavier than the idea of an interactive book for girls. There is Stephenson’s grim portrayal of the future of China, for one, as well as his prediction that the boundary lines between people will not be drawn on a geographic plane, but rather by culture, and people will form tribes based on race, religion, or other creeds.
The #DiversityInSFF hashtag gave a solid signal boost to the longstanding, often-ignored, ever-trolled, much-needed convos about race and gender, privilege and science fiction/fantasy that have been going on since the dawn of time. For a few weeks twitter was all aflame with debates, links and related shenanigans. We have these convos, increasingly in depth, at cons and across the blogosphere. Backlash against those who speak out has come in the form of death and rape threats, hate mail, doubling down on sexist/racist/homophobic/ableist material, and mind-numbingly nonsensical counterarguments. And, of course, comments sections. Still, we move forward, take breaks to recuperate and then move forward some more towards a vision of SF/F that isn’t just another white male savior fantasies, a diversity that’s more than fake smiling multicolored dress up dolls.
This month Rose Fox and I have been wrapping up the selection process for Long Hidden, an anthology of speculative fiction from the margins of history. It’s busied me up and kept me from banging my head against the keyboard trying to piece together a coherent response to some never-ending fuckery and maybe that’s a good thing. My words are coming, but sometimes the best counterattack is to simply reroute the conversation to creativity, to create something new, a new space for voices that don’t get play in mainstream venues.
Read on to find some links to recent conversations about race and SF/F:
While this blog regularly gives voice(s) to the perspectives of self-proclaimed nerds of color on speculative media cinematic, televisual, animated, illustrated, and digitally interactive, we can’t forget that the pop-cultural expanse of fantastic worlds and stories we subsume under the rubrics of science fiction and fantasy, or speculative fiction more inclusively, or even nerd or geek culture more broadly, have their roots in the written. And so, this week on The Nerds of Color, we celebrate the written word. Literature. Books.