Antiblack Racism in Speculative Fiction — Fireside Fiction
#BlackSpecFic: A Fireside Fiction Company special report
By Cecily Kane

This struck me:

“For this report, we focused on black authors specifically rather than authors of color generally because, while all are important, we noticed several patterns — not limited to the short fiction field — in which “diversity” initiatives excluded black people and hid antiblackness. The terms “people of color” and “PoC” can have a flattening effect, so we took a closer look than the white/not-white binary.”

7 reasons why solarpunk is the most important speculative fiction movement in the last 20 years
  1. It’s hopeful. Solarpunk doesn’t require an apocalypse. It’s a world in which humans haven’t destroyed ourselves and our environment, where we’ve pulled back just in time to stop the slow destruction of our planet. We’ve learned to use science wisely, for the betterment of ourselves and our planet. We’re no longer overlords. We’re caretakers. We’re gardeners.
  2. Scientists are heroes again. And not just physicists and astronomers. Knowledge of biology and earth sciences matter, they’re the building blocks for a future on Earth. Scientific literacy isn’t just for academics – it’s part of daily life. People know how the things they use work, and if they don’t, they can access that information. 
  3. It’s diverse. Solarpunk is rooted in using the environment, so it looks different in different places. Alternative energy is best when specific to place (I imagine geothermal, wind, tidal, and hydroelectric energy sources are still used in certain places) so no overarching government system is needed. Communities can organize themselves, taking their own location and needs and history into account. Brazilian, Inuit, Egyptian, Pacific Northwest, and New Zealand solarpunk can all look very different, but be unified in resourceful, intentional, low impact living.
  4. Individuality still matters. In a post-scarcity society, ingenuity and self-expression are not sacrificed on the altar of survival. With solar power there’s no reason not to go off grid, if that’s what you want to do. Communities can self-organize. You can find a community that suits you, or go live by yourself if that floats your boat.
  5. There’s room for spirituality and science to coexist. Solarpunk is rooted in a deep understanding and reverence for natural processes. There’s room for spirituality there, be it pagan, Buddhist, Sufi, Transcendentalism – anything. There’s so much to explore, from nature worship to organized monotheistic religions, and how they interact with solarpunk.
  6. It’s beautiful. The most common solarpunk aesthetic is art nouveau, but again there’s room for diversity, incorporating art styles from multiple cultures in respectful, non-appropriative ways. The most important aspect of solarpunk aesthetic is the melding of art and utility. The idea of intentional living is strong in art nouveau, but it’s not the only art movement with that philosophy.
  7. We can make it happen. Now. Earthships. Permaculture. Aquaponics. Algae lighting. Compostable products that turn into fields of flowers. Buy Nothing organizations. Tiny, beautiful, efficient homes. Solar power cells you can see through. That’s all happening now. Solarpunk is within our grasp, at least on a personal level. I’m not saying there aren’t still big, ugly infrastructures devoted to unethical consumption, but we can start to tear them down. We can build a solarpunk world with stories and small changes. And small changes lead to big changes. That’s the real beauty of solarpunk. It’s not a post-apocalyptic power fantasy. It’s not a wistful daydream, or an elite future only for physicists. It’s something we can work towards right now. It’s tangible.

A New Wave of Black Filmmaking: Experimental and Black Speculative Indie Films

A brief survey of the contemporary Black independent film scene yields a long and ever-growing list of experimental and Black speculative (including horror, Afrofuturism, sci-fi, fantasy, fan fiction) short cinema, film trailers, music videos, and other film projects


Medievalpoc: Fiction Week!

Back by popular demand, starting this Monday (June 30), Medievalpoc will be showcasing works of Historical Fiction, Fantasy, Speculative Fiction and much, much more. Book reviews, thematic essays, discussions about representation in these genres, and resources for writers will all be included.

Previous Fiction Week Posts

Submit your favorite works of fiction here! Your original works of fiction are welcome, as well as links to stories hosted online, book reviews, thematic essays, or your favorite book covers featuring characters of color.

Religious curses are so interesting because they reflect world-building more accurately that the other types of swears do.

So when Patrick Rothfuss’s character says “Shit in God’s beard,” you know beards are important to the culture of the guy who is swearing, and when N.K. Jemisin has one of her characters, a god, say “gods,” in a moment of frustration, a reader learns something about this world: there is more than one god, for example, and this particular god probably prays to a god higher than herself.

Swearing is about taking the name of something important in vain. You can learn a lot about a culture’s values by looking at the things it considers to be obscene.

That’s the best kind of (expletive deleted) world-building there is.
6 Ways to Make SciFi and Fantasy Weapons More Believable
Ever read a fantasy book or watched a science fiction movie and struggled to suspend your disbelief due to the total lack of reality in some make believe weapons? Here’s advice for people writing this stuff on how to get guns and lasers and bow and wands right.
By Benjamin Sobieck

Ever read a fantasy book or watched a science fiction movie and struggled to suspend your disbelief due to the total lack of reality in some make believe weapons?  Here’s advice for people writing this stuff on how to get guns and lasers and bow and wands right.

When it comes to real-world weapons in fiction, I can talk all day about how the history of 1911 pistols, snubnose revolvers, switchblades and AR-15s can impact the story.  But it’s a little different when the weapons exist only in the imagination.

However, fantasy and steampunk weapons share much more in common with their real-world counterparts than it seems.  Here are six tips that transcend reality.

Useful stuff in the comments section, too.

All social change is speculative fiction because we’ve never seen a world without poverty, never seen a world with total equality, never seen a world without prisons…therefore activism IS speculative fiction, it’s visionary fiction because we are writing a world we’ve never seen but a world we’d like to live in.

It’s hard and unapologetic but it’s hopeful because it can cause us to move; it wakes up and shows us that change is possible.

—  a quote from AN EVENING WITH OCTAVIA’S (Butler) BROOD, as summarized by author Crystal Connor (via Balogun Ojetade, blackspeculativefiction)

Fiction Week

lsjohnson submitted to medievalpoc:

I’m sure you’re already aware of the anthology being put out by Crossed Genres called Long Hidden: Speculative Fiction from the Margins of History, but the Table of Contents is up now and I suspect that some of the stories therein will fit your framework admirably.

Thank you for this marvelous blog! You have made me aware of many blind spots in my educational background, and given me direction in overcoming them. My writing is much, much better due to your work. I am truly grateful.

Thank you so much and


Why tell stories from the margins of history?

We want to take a step toward righting an injustice that goes back to the dawn of time: some types of people are deemed more worthy of protagonist roles than others.

We believe that all people are the heroes of their own stories. We want to provide solidly grounded historical fiction to modern readers, who may have only encountered myths, fragments, or garbled notions of how marginalized people lived (and died) in past times—or may never have learned anything about those people at all.

By foregrounding marginalized people from the past, we hope to amplify marginalized voices in the present. Every story will make a statement that these voices deserve to be heard, and these stories are worth telling and reading.

Why make them speculative stories?

We want to reclaim speculative literature. Science fiction, fantasy, and horror writers frequently spin tales of intrepid conquerors and feuding kingdoms that have their roots in real-world history of invasion and oppression.

This perpetuates the idea that certain people are unfit for heroism, and leaves many speculative fiction fans longing for protagonists they can identify with and stories that recall their own personal and family histories. Those fans deserve a book like this.

Speculative fiction is what we know best: Crossed Genres publishes speculative fiction, Daniel writes it, and Rose edits and reviews it. We’re passionate fans of genre fiction. And like anyone who puts together an anthology, at heart we’re simply looking for the kinds of stories we’ve always wanted to read.

Our hope and belief is that you’ll be as excited by this anthology, and as eager to read it, as we are.


Seriously, they have a table of contents up with the authors, story titles, and settings!!! It comes out in MAY 2014!!!


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.

‘People of Colo(u)r Destroy Science Fiction’ Anthology is Seeking Sci-Fi Stories - Pays 8 cents/word

Leading sci/fi magazine Lightspeed has opened an exclusive reading period to curate stories for a special issue called “People of Colo(u)r Destroy Science Fiction”–based on the popular successes of its other “____ Destroy Science Fiction/Fantasy” themes.

This issue is being guest edited by Nalo Hopkinson and Kristine Ong Muslim. Nalo is a Jamaican-born Canadian who has published multiple novels and short stories, and has edited and co-edited anthologies. Kristine, a best-selling author of numerous novels, is also poetry editor of LONTAR: The Journal of Southeast Asian Speculative Fiction, a literary journal distributed by Epigram Books in Singapore.

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But you guys, you know what’s really fucking me up?

 Clarke doesn’t know that Bellamy dragged himself after her, bleeding out, possibly concussed and barely staggering from one tree to the next for however long it took for Monty and Kane to catch up. And Bellamy’s not going to tell her that, no way, not after 3x05 when he’s embraced his supposed monstrosity, because monsters don’t get to be heroes. 

I was getting stressed out about this, but then I realized, the only person who could possibly tell her is Monty. Monty who has been allied with Bellamy all season, witnessed his desperation for Clarke, followed him in following Pike, is now following him against Pike. You bet your beautiful asses Monty’s going to have a role to play in Bellarke’s reconciliation. I’m so flipping excited about this I cannot tell you. 

I can just see it, Clarke and Bellamy, tense, terse, terrified of each other and what they’ve revealed about how they feel, thinking the other doesn’t feel the same. Clarke sitting down in a huff next to Monty, who’d always been her guy at the Dropship and Mount Weather, clawing hand through her hair, exasperated and frustrated and missing Bellamy who’s licking his wounds across the cave with Miller. 

Monty comforting her and all too casually mentioning Bellamy’s desperate crusade to find her, too stubborn and heartsick to let her go, he’s voice cracked and broken when he refused to give up on finding her. Clarke staring at Monty, shocked, awed, pained as she remembers the way Bellamy’s face hardened in Polis at her stark apology, the way his voice cracked when they fought in Lincoln and Octavia’s quarters. 

Clarke turning to stare at Bellamy who’s staring hard at the floor, bruises on his face and mouth an unhappy line. Clarke getting up and crossing the room to him, sinking down on her knees in front of him, taking his wrist the way he once took hers. 

“Did you really do that for me?” 

And Bellamy taken aback, hands already responding and encompassing her small forearm even before his mind catches up. Bellamy nodding slowly, shyly, unsure. Clarke leaning in and pressing a kiss to his lips.

Labyrinth Maker by Santiago Caruso *** Homage to Jorge Luis Borges

“We discovered (very late at night such a discovery is inevitable) that there is something monstrous about mirrors. That was when Bioy remembered a saying by one of the heresiarchs of Uqbar: Mirrors and copulation are abominable, for they multiply the number of mankind.” ~from Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius by Jorge Luis Borges

11 Sci-Fi Books Every woman Should Read
There’s lots of great science fiction by and about women out there. Whether you’re looking for a fresh otherworldly take on gender, a sci-fi adventure with kickass women protagonists, or just a good woman-authored story of mind-exploding creativity, these are some of the sci-fi books that every woman (and really just every sci-fi fan) should definitely get her hands on.

Books by Ursula K. LeGuin, Nisi Shawl, N. K. Jemisin, Ann Leckie, and more!


Blerd Bookstore Struggle + 10 Black Speculative Fiction Anthologies

Whenever I step inside of a bookstore, my first stop is always the science fiction section. Routinely, I’ll do a scan for my favorite Black science fiction authors, and nine times out of 10, Octavia Butler, Tananarive Due, Samuel Delany and other popular Black science fiction authors have been placed on the African-American literature shelves. This seems to send a very clear message to readers: Black authors who write science fiction are somehow “other.” These stories are not considered traditional science fiction or aren’t really science fiction at all; it belongs, instead in the special interest, ethnic, or diversity categories of the bookstore. The categories that usually take up the least amount of space in the room, as if we have fewer stories to tell.

Capricious magazine Seeking Speculative Fiction Stories for Debut Issue - Pays $50/story

Capricious, a new magazine of literary speculative fiction and commentary, will debut its first issue this September. Editor A.C. Buchanan is seeking literary and experimental fiction, as well as non-fiction essays about speculative fiction. 

The magazine aims to publish the literary/experimental/slipstream part of speculative fiction, including fiction that examines the connection between an environment and its inhabitants, stories about disability that elude the familiar tropes, and stories that explore gender.

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TROPE OF THE WEEK: I hate my dystopic job!

Living in the hell-hole that is a dystopia – no matter if it’s capitalist or communist – means that your characters hates their job. They were forced into this position, but the government has been in control for so long that there’s no means of fighting it, so no one tries. Despite everyone hating their job, however, no one ever tries to rebel against even this small facet of the world. Well, not until your story begins, at least.

Why this can be bad: This doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. While of course the dystopic government doesn’t want its people to rebel and may use fear to control a populace, fear can only go so far. After all, the characters in the dystopia also tend not to have any happiness or leisure outside of work, either, and if they do, then it’s not anything significant. History shows that unhappiness is the driving force in revolution, so if your people can’t even be happy in their jobs, they’re not going to stay there very long. That unhappiness will feed into other parts of their lives, and before long, that dystopia is out, even if it’s just replaced by a different one.

How you can fix it: For the most iconic examples, Brave New World and 1984 handle these issues in very different ways. BNW diffuses any unhappiness in the populace’s work lives by pumping leisure time full of drugs to keep citizens languid and content. If you can’t make your people happy at work, you can at least make it happy outside of work, right? Oceania of 1984, on the other hand, tries to grant some kind of fulfillment to its people (or we can infer that, at the very least). Winston, who is the most angry at and hateful of the government, manages to find pleasure and satisfaction in his government-assigned job rewriting history, despite hating that the government rewrites history. He finds an aspect of it fun, and so while he’s angry most of the time, there’s a bit of joy that can be found in his everyday life.

Bottom Line: A government, even a dystopic one, wants its people to be happy because a happy people will not rebel. Amend your world as needed.

Picture: Screencap from Dystopixelia by Kvantpant.


INVISIBLE UNIVERSE: A History of Blackness in Speculative Fiction

documentary by M. Asli Dukan

In 2003, independent filmmaker, M. Asli Dukan, set out to make a documentary about the 150 year history of Black creators in speculative fiction (SF) books and movies. What she didn’t realize at the time was that she was about to document a major movement in the history of speculative fiction. A movement where a growing number of Black creators were becoming an effective force, creating works that had increasing influence on the traditionally, straight, white, cis-male dominated SF industry. However, while these Black creators imagined better futures for Black people within their fictional works of SF, in reality, the everyday, lived experiences of Black people in the United States – e.g., the rise of massive inequality, the prison industrial complex, and police brutality – stood in stark contrast. She began to wonder if these phenomena were related. 

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