Hey, good news! I’ve…

Hey, good news! I've been authorized to teach a 400-level Topics in Popular Culture class next fall (in the English department), and it's already full, which means that I really ought to get my course description up pronto. My plan is to do a course that focuses on authors of color in SF/F. (I considered also looking at work that explores race/ethnicity in SF/F, (a la the Carl Brandon awards), but I decided that's too much to try to cover in a 16-week course. It'd make for a great parallel course...)

With the help of folks on various lists, I've put together a first pass at my homework -- a comprehensive list to read this summer as I try to put together a coherent syllabus. I may have mischaracterized one or two authors -- if I wasn't familiar with their work, I made a guess, so please feel free to correct my categorization. If you have any additions, or suggestions for particular novels or short stories that should be used (i.e., which Delany?? which Butler? which Hopkinson?), that would definitely be appreciated. I'm going to try to include as much short fiction as possible, just because my students can probably only handle about 6 novels over the course of the semester -- if I assign more, they just get overwhelmed and stop reading. Sigh. So would particularly appreciate suggestions of shorter works. Thanks!

The Invisible Made Visible: Writers and Worlds of Color in Speculative Fiction


  • Dark Matter: A Century of Speculative Fiction from the African Diaspora, edited by Sheree R. Thomas
  • So Long Been Dreaming: Postcolonial Science Fiction & Fantay, edited by Nalo Hopkinson & Uppinder Mehan
  • The Dragon & The Stars anthology, edited by Eric Choi and Derwin Mak
  • Cosmos Latinos


  • Octavia Butler ("Bloodchild"?)
  • Steve Barnes
  • Samuel R. Delany ("Time Considered as a Helix of Semi-Precious Stones"?)
  • Tananarive Due ("Ghost Summer" in The Ancestors anthology?)
  • Virginia Hamilton
  • Gilbert Hernandez (his magic-realist "Palomar" a.k.a. "Heartbreak Soup" series in L&R)
  • Jaime Hernandez (Love and Rockets, first "Locas" story, "Mechanix")
  • Charles Saunders
  • Craig Strete ("Time Deer"?)
  • Somtow Sucharitkul


  • Sherman Alexie
  • Rudolfo Anaya
  • Junot Diaz (The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao)
  • Louise Erdrich
  • Jewelle Gomez
  • Kazuo Ishiguro (Never Let Me Go)
  • Maxine Hong Kingston (The Woman Warrior)
  • Toni Morrison?
  • Gloria Naylor
  • Ishmael Reed
  • Salman Rushdie
  • M. P. Shiel (hapa?)
  • Leslie Marmon Silko
  • Gene Luen Yang (American Born Chinese)


  • Tobias Buckell
  • Ted Chiang ("Division by Zero" or "The Story of You"?)
  • Craig Gidney (Sea, Swallow Me)
  • Hiromi Goto (Hopeful Monsters -- title story or "Good Boy"?)
  • Yaritji Green (indigenous Australian)
  • Andrea Hairston
  • Nalo Hopkinson ("Glass Bottle Trick"?)
  • N.K. Jemisin
  • Alaya Dawn Johnson
  • Alice Sola Kim ("Hwang's Billion Brilliant Daughters")
  • Karen Lord
  • Carole McDonnell
  • Jesse Miller ("Pigeon City")
  • Mary Anne Mohanraj :-)
  • Nnedi Okorafor
  • Nisi Shawl
  • Vandana Singh
  • Charles Yu


  • Alex Rivera (Sleep Dealer)


  • Thomas Foster's "The Souls Of Cyberfolk" isn't wholly about the topic but has a couple of good chapters on it.
  • Marleen Barr's Afro-Future Females
  • Suzette Haden Elgin, Language Imperative
  • Science Fiction Studies. Vol. 34, Part 2, (July 2007) - the Afrofuturism issue. Critical names to look out for include Isiah Lavender III and De Witt Douglas Kilgore (especially on Astrofuturism).

3 thoughts on “Hey, good news! I’ve…”

  1. It’s a good looking list, with some names new to me.

    One writer I think gets neglected in such lists is Ernest Hogan. His use of recombined language from multi cultural sources is interesting.

  2. This sounds like a great class! If I can find the time, maybe I’ll try to read along.

    Tiny nitpick (that may just be in my head): to me, the phrase “historically important authors” kind of sounds like they’re musty old authors who were once important but who one would read these days only for historical reasons.

    I’m delighted to see the Hernandez brothers on the reading list, btw.

    I still haven’t gotten around to reading Alice’s “Hwang’s Billion Brilliant Daughters”; I’ve heard a lot of good things about it, so it may well be the right one for the class, but I wanted to suggest another possibility for her: “Beautiful White Bodies.”

    And although there’s plenty to choose from for Vandana, I wanted to suggest “Somadeva: A Sky River Sutra.”

    …I want to suggest a bunch of other newer writers of color, but I realize you can’t fit everyone in. (Which is in itself a nice change from the way things were twenty or thirty years ago.) But maybe I’ll send you a couple of further suggestions in email.

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