This week the focus is on science fiction and fantasy, two genres where people of color are often absent or sidekicks, but rarely the main character.
I am a science fiction fan. I read most of the books by Robert Heinlein and Larry Niven when I was a youngster. These were great stories about space, people, relationships and the future. Unfortunately, there were no African Americans in these stories.
So, I was blown away when I first began to read books by Octavia Butler. She had a vision for the future of our world that was often very bleak. However, she always have strong Black characters that are dealing with the elements, situations and issues like religion. Oddly, my favorite Octavia Butler story isn't about the future ... rather it is about the past. The book called, Kindred, tells the story of a modern-day Black woman transported into the American slavery era. It describes how a modern-day liberated sister would deal with life in a society that treats her as chattel rather than as a human being.
Another author that I like is Walter Mosley. This African American dabbled into science fiction with a book called Futureland: Nine Stories of an Imminent World. Mosley is best known for his series of novels featuring characters like Easy and Mouse. It is wonderful to see him demonstrate creative range with this science fiction work set a generation from now.
Your assignment: spotlight science fiction and fantasy titles where people of color are the leads, works by people of color in these genres or discuss your thoughts about race in these genres. Do you notice the absence of color? In what ways is race portrayed in fantasy and science fiction beyond using traditional racial terms like black and white? If the book covers prominently features people of color, does it affect your perception? Are we more comfortable with imaginary characters versus different race in these works?