What Does Fiction Have To Do With Black Lives Matter?

Cover of Jemisin's The City We BecameSpeculative fiction has always been a tool to broaden our minds and see the way forward into the future. In a time when people across the globe are either experiencing constant everyday racism or just having their eyes opened up to its extent, science fiction can help us understand all the work that needs to be done in our society. 

  • The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor LaValle turns the work of H. P. Lovecraft on its head, showing us, through the eyes of a young black musician beset by police brutality, the loss of loved ones and an uncaring society, just why someone might want to see the world torn down.
  • N. K. Jemisin is a writer well-versed in tackling social injustice and the complexities of modern life, through The City We Became (which explores the magic of New York City as a living being who deals with power struggles and bigotry) and How Long ‘til Black Future Month? (which features black protagonists in a variety of science fiction and fantastical situations).
  • Octavia Butler’s Kindred is the horrifying story of a 20th-century black woman sent back to the Antebellum South—she is meant to save her ancestors there, but what about her own life?
  • The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead takes the titular passage to freedom and imagines it as an actual railroad carrying escaped slaves to strange places.
  • And in the world of roleplaying games, Mike Pondsmith’s Cyberpunk series, throughout various editions, has asked players to put themselves in the shoes of outlaws and tricksters fighting to stay alive in a grim city environment despite the corrupt forces of law closing in on them.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, and we encourage you to explore further into the works of black science fiction and fantasy authors. Not only may they help you understand current events, but you could find your next favorite book!

Written by: Mira G.


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N. K. Jemisin The City We Became

Mike Pondsmith’s Cyberpunk series

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