@Nablai's Nebula

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Welcome to the latest edition of Nablai's Nebula, the exclusive source for all kinds of juicy, genre-relevant info as written by our very own Nablai!


Hey everyone :)

This month, we'll discuss Afrofuturism and I'm so excited to share my article with you.

The science fiction and fantasy genres often act as way to delve and cope with societal issues, past or present. The idea of "otherness" is very popular within genre (from monsters to aliens to alternate universes), it doesn't come as a surprise that writers of color would choose to use SFF (science fiction and fantasy) as a medium to process their thoughts about race and feelings of otherness in predominantly white societies—and spawned the sub-genre we know as Afrofuturism.

The term Afrofuturism was coined in the 1990s by Mark Dery in his article "Black to the Future," in a 44-page essay from 1993 in which he-- a white writer, interviewed several outstanding African American voices like sci-fi author Samuel R. Delaney; musician and former The Village Voice writer Greg Tate; and Tricia Rose, the director of the Center for Study of Race and Ethnicity in America at Brown University.

The article explored diverse aspects of the genre such as music, literature, and art that contains elements of science fiction, fantasy, magical realism, historical fiction, Afrocentricity, and non-Western cosmologies.

In short, Afrofuturism envisions a future filled with arts, science and technology seen through a black lens. The term, conceived a quarter-century ago by white author Mark Dery, looks at speculative fiction within the African diaspora. Though it is rooted in chronological fluidity, the divergence lens gives many opportunities to view possible futures or alternate realities

Afrofuturism is making waves in the music world too.

I'm delighted to share these amazing Afrofuturism music videos which my friend Jeff JeffreyVonHauger PM'd me. I'm sure you'll enjoy them as much as I did.

Check them out:

With the well-deserved success of Black Panther in the box office and the amazing black voices being published in sci-fi/fantasy, Afrofuturism is trending in the book world. 

For anyone looking to experience some of the best that Afrofuturism has to offer, these amazingly fantastic stories give an introduction to the best of the genre.

1) Trazer: Kids of Stolen Tomorrow by Joseph O. Adegboyega-Edun.

Summary: It's the year 93 O.O., and Dara Adeleye lives in a world shaped by the Miracle of Elegua, an intervention by the Yoruba gods in the fate of an Earth on the brink of collapse decades before she was born. A gifted student and artist with a bright future from a tough neighborhood, her path is derailed when she runs into trazer Kris Arvelo—a mysteriously powered graffiti writer who may hold clues to Dara's true destiny.

2) Brown Girl in the Ring, by Nalo Hopkinson

Summary: The debut novel by award-winning author Nalo Hopkinson draws heavily on the lore and traditions of Afro-Caribbean culture, bringing elements of magical realism into a dystopic vision of downtown Toronto. Ti-Jeanne is a single mother who has recently given birth to a baby boy and is forced by circumstance to live with her grandmother, Gros-Jeanne, a well-respected herbalist and spiritualist. The baby's father, Tony, finds himself in trouble and seeks out Gros-Jeanne for help, requiring Ti-Jeanne to come to terms with her heritage and embrace her grandmother's spirituality, which she had previously rejected. In a bleak future, traditions of the past come alive and two strong women take charge of their own destinies.

3) Elysium by Jennifer Marie Brissett

Summary: With its experimental structure, this is a novel that rewards readers who go along for the journey. It jumps characters and time frames, and puts its protagonists through life after life, apocalypse after apocalypse. Through this repetition, we start to see the world of Elysium take shape, and the struggles of humanity to survive and protect their loved ones at any cost.

4) Lilith's Brood, by Octavia Butler

First published in 1987, the Xenogenesis trilogy asks us to consider if humanity is worth saving, and on what terms. In her first book- Dawn, we meet Lilith Ayepo. She, along with a few other remnants of humanity, was saved from the total nuclear destruction of Earth by aliens called the Oankali. Centuries later, the Oankali have made the Earth habitable again and they begin waking up the humans—but in the time since the humans were salvaged, the aliens have also edited their DNA. Humans can no longer reproduce without the involvement of the Oankali, who survive and evolve by trading genetic material with the other species they encounter as they explore the universe.

Lilith's choice is simple, but not easy: help the aliens wake up the rest of the humans and acclimate them to their new reality, or resist the Oankali and be put back in stasis. Her choice and the consequences make up the next two books, Adulthood Rites and Imago.

The nuances of consent and compulsion are recurring themes for Butler who paints a complicated portrait. She never shies away from presenting humanity at its worst, and she searches for the best while she does it.

Around ten years ago, superhero films were almost about white male characters, but the publicity around Black Panther is a testimony to a growing appetite for art that pays homage to black history and black power.

Within 24 hours of its release, the Marvel film had set a new sales record, helping to mainstream the Afrofuturism movement.

For the unversed, in Black Panther, the imaginary kingdom of Wakanda – is the world's most technologically-advanced country. This may seem a far cry from typical depictions of poverty-stricken Africa.

However, as it becomes a truly digital-first continent, Afrofuturist films like Black Panther may just be giving us a glimpse at the future.

In the words of Nigerian-American author Nnedi Okorafor:

"African science fiction's blood runs deep, and it's old, and it's ready to come forth. And when it does, imagine the new technologies, ideas and sociopolitical changes it will inspire."

I understand it can be hard to conjure up images of illustrious black royalty in a present that is fraught with intercommunal tensions. In the past year, racial inequality has been laid bare, from South Africa, where #RhodesMustFall challenged the remnants of brutal colonisation, to the US, where white supremacy groups have come out of the shadows.

Given the sometimes bleak present-day circumstances of Afro-descended people, Afrofuturism is a chance to envision a radical and progressive vision of blackness – one in which justice reigns in superheroes and where black creativity is mystical and fascinating.

In our world, every black life matters. Always will. #blacklivesmatter.

Feel free to recommend your favourite works of Afrofuturism to me. I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below :)

Look forward to meeting all of you with a new article in April. This is Nab signing off. Bye and take care :)

Have a beautiful day =]

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