What Is Black Sci-Fi?

This statement is written for the purpose of not only defining the course of which my work has taken, but also to name and define a movement. This movement is not new nor is it limited to realm in which I choose to express my discipline. This movement has existed since Humanity began to express itself through creativity and sought to explain its existence through spirituality. However, the naming and explaining of this movement will be limited in the context of a culture (or cultures) and the hue of a people: my culture and my people.

The name of the movement is Black Sci-Fi.

This name, as some would no doubt like to debate, is not meant to divide, but rather to categorize and celebrate the speculative fiction from the African Diaspora. Furthermore, the name Black Sci-Fi does not preclude those outside of the Diaspora from working within this subgenre. However, in order to do so, one must follow certain tenets if one is to truly call their work Black Sci-Fi.

1.) The name of the genre is Black Sci-Fi.

It is not called African American Science Fiction, African American Speculative Fiction, Urban Sci-Fi nor any other politically correct terminology. It has been named Black Sci-Fi and will always be referred to as such to reflect its defiant political, social, spiritual, and racial stance in this these United States of America.


2.) Black Sci-Fi must have an African American as the primary protagonist.

Simply put, it’s not Black Sci-Fi if an African American is not main character in the story (i.e. I Robot, the Blade Trilogy, Spawn, Black Panther, etc.).


3.) Black Sci-Fi will always have a connection to the Black Experience.

All Black Sci-Fi works have made a connection between the actions executed in the “present” of the piece and the history of the Black Experience. This link is not limited to the African American experience but rather to the historical experience to the African Diaspora as a whole (i.e. the works of Octavia Butler).


4.) Black Sci-Fi focuses on the spiritual rather than the physical.

Whereas other subgenres of speculative fiction tend to focus on technology (the physical), Black Sci-Fi almost always focuses on the potential of the human experience (the spiritual). Indeed, Black spirituality is, in one shape or form, based on a link to the cosmos from the Dogon to the Yoruba to even Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Granted, technology may be in Black Sci-Fi works (especially if the work is based in a far off future), but technology is never the driving force of the piece (i.e. the Matrix Trilogy, Star Trek DS9, etc.).


5.)    Black Sci-Fi respects and often references other cultures.

The genre does not exist in a vacuum nor does it eschew other cultures to further its own agenda. Rather, Black Sci-Fi embraces the importance of all cultures in the human existence and draws upon them as well in order to create a cohesive universe in which it can exist. The subgenre is inclusive, not exclusive (i.e. The Horsemen, The Monarchy, etc.).


6.)    Black Sci-Fi is political.

Whether the work focuses on gender, sexuality, religion, class, race, etc., Black Sci-Fi is always a commentary on the existing conditions in which the work was created. More often than not, it is a critique on those conditions (i.e. Brother From Another Planet, Space Is The Place, etc.).


7.)    Black Sci-Fi is not limited to the literary or the visual.

Simply put, Black Sci-Fi is everywhere and we experience it every day. This is not a new phenomenon. This has been happening from the beginning and, in particular, the 20th and 21st centuries. We hear it everyday in our music, we see it in the clothes we wear, we use it in our speech, and it is in the way we move. It is a living, breathing entity. The Blues are Black Sci-Fi. Jazz is Black Sci-Fi. Rock and Roll, Soul, and Funk are Black Sci-Fi. Reggae is Black Sci-Fi. Hip Hop is Black Sci-Fi. House, Techno, indeed all DJ culture-based music is Black Sci-Fi (i.e. John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Parliament/Funkadelic, Sun Ra, EWF,
Outkast, Derrick May, Dwele, Afrika Bambatta, Vikter Duplaix, Goldie, Janelle Monae, Common, etc.).

This is the criterion that one must follow if one wants to work in this newly defined genre. I say newly defined not newly formed because this genre existed long before I was born. I’m just following its rules and regulations.
If you want to create true Black Sci-Fi, I suggest you do the same.

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