This is one of numerous posts written today at the Riot in celebration of Octavia Butler’s birthday. See all the posts here.
Like so many fantastic genre writers before and since, Octavia Butler got her start when she sold the short story Crossover. Short story publishing has often provided authors of marginalized backgrounds with a better chance to get off the ground. Publishing a novel takes a greater commitment of time and money, so companies are more hesitant to pull the trigger on unknown authors with “non-traditional” backgrounds and stories. And yet, some of the most iconic works of fiction are only a few pages long, including science fiction staples like All Summer in a Day by Ray Bradbury and A Martian Odyssey by Stanley G. Weinbaum. Nevertheless, many of these stories go unseen by even devoted genre readers, especially true when we’re talking about short stories by authors of color. So check out these short story collections by authors of color and see what you’ve been missing. You might even find your new favorite author.
Mothership: Tales from Afrofuturism and Beyond edited by Bill Campbell, Edward Austin Hall
“Mothership: Tales from Afrofuturism and Beyond is a groundbreaking speculative fiction anthology that showcases the work from some of the most talented writers inside and outside speculative fiction across the globe—including Junot Diaz, Victor LaValle, Lauren Beukes, N. K. Jemisin, Rabih Alameddine, S. P. Somtow, and more. These authors have earned such literary honors as the Pulitzer Prize, the American Book Award, the World Fantasy Award, and the Bram Stoker, among others.”
Three Messages and a Warning edited by Eduardo Jiménez Mayo, Chris N. Brown
“This huge anthology of more than thirty all-original Mexican science fiction and fantasy features ghost stories, supernatural folktales, alien incursions, and apocalyptic narratives, as well as science-based chronicles of highly unusual mental states in which the borders of fantasy and reality reach unprecedented levels of ambiguity. Stereotypes of Mexican identity are explored and transcended by the thoroughly cosmopolitan consciousnesses underlying these works. It is a landmark of contemporary North American fiction that deserves a wide readership.”
Dark Matter: A Century of Speculative Fiction from the African Diaspora edited by Sheree Renée Thomas
“This volume introduces black science fiction, fantasy, and speculative fiction writers to the generations of readers who have not had the chance to explore the scope and diversity among African-American writers.” This anthology actually covers more than a century, with the oldest story in first printed in 1882 and the newest printed originally in this book in 2000.
Skin Folk: Stories edited by Nalo Hopkinson
“In Skin Folk, with works ranging from science fiction to Caribbean folklore, passionate love to chilling horror, Nalo Hopkinson is at her award-winning best spinning tales like “Precious,” in which the narrator spews valuable coins and gems from her mouth whenever she attempts to talk or sing. In “A Habit of Waste,” a self-conscious woman undergoes elective surgery to alter her appearance; days later she’s shocked to see her former body climbing onto a public bus. In “The Glass Bottle Trick,” the young protagonist ignores her intuition regarding her new husband’s superstitions—to horrifying consequences.”
So Long Been Dreaming: Postcolonial Science Fiction & Fantasy edited by Nalo Hopkinson, Uppinder Mehan
“An anthology of original new stories by leading African, Asian, South Asian and Aboriginal authors, as well as North American and British writers of color. Stories of imagined futures abound in Western writing. Writer and editor Nalo Hopkinson notes that the science fiction/fantasy genre “speaks so much about the experience of being alienated but contains so little writing by alienated people themselves.” It’s an oversight that Hopkinson and Mehan aim to correct with this anthology.”
Kalpa Imperial: The Greatest Empire That Never Was by Angélica Gorodischer, translated by Ursula K. LeGuin (Translator)
“This is the first of Argentinean writer Angélica Gorodischer’s nineteen award-winning books to be translated into English. In eleven chapters, Kalpa Imperial’s multiple storytellers relate the story of a fabled nameless empire which has risen and fallen innumerable times. Fairy tales, oral histories and political commentaries are all woven tapestry-style into Kalpa Imperial: beggars become emperors, democracies become dictatorships, and history becomes legends and stories. But this is much more than a simple political allegory or fable. It is also a celebration of the power of storytelling.”
Cosmos Latinos: An Anthology of Science Fiction from Latin America and Spain edited by Andrea L. Bell, Yolanda Molina-Gavilán
“Opening a window onto a fascinating new world for English-speaking readers, this anthology offers popular and influential stories from over ten countries, chronologically ranging from 1862 to the present. Latin American and Spanish science fiction shares many thematic and stylistic elements with anglophone science fiction, but there are important differences: many downplay scientific plausibility, and others show the influence of the region’s celebrated literary fantastic. In the 27 stories included in this anthology, a 16th-century conquistador is re-envisioned as a cosmonaut, Mexican factory workers receive pleasure-giving bio-implants, and warring bands of terrorists travel through time attempting to reverse the outcome of historical events.”
Know of more great collections? Tell us about them!
Science Fiction Short Story Collections by Authors of Color
This is one of numerous posts written today at the Riot in celebration of Octavia Butler's birthday. See all the posts here. Like so many fantastic genre writers before and since, Octavia Butler got her start when she sold the short story Crossover. Short story publishing has often provided authors of marginalized backgrounds with a better chance to get off the ground. Publishing a novel takes a greater commitment of time and money, so companies are more hesitant to pull the trigger on unknown authors with "non-traditional" backgrounds and stories. And yet, some of the most iconic works of fiction are only a few...
Fear and Butler in America
This is one of numerous posts written today at the Riot in celebration of Octavia Butler's birthday. See all the posts here. I spent most of my life afraid of Octavia Butler. A 1988 copy of Kindred sat on my bookshelf for years. It traveled across the country with me. Twice. Actually, I’ve had two copies; I traded in the one I had when I found an older version with a more interesting cover. I sort of knew what it was about. Something involving a black woman from the present traveling back to the Antebellum United States. I knew it...
Fierce: The Short Fiction of Octavia Butler
This is one of numerous posts written today at the Riot in celebration of Octavia Butler's birthday. See all the posts here. Fierce. That was my reaction when I read the work of Octavia Butler for the first time. This is a woman to be reckoned with. I don't say that just because she is a black woman writing in a genre that is dominated by white men - even more so than literature as a whole - and that is nothing if not impressive. I say it because she does something with her writing that so many authors attempt...
A Smurfette in Science Fiction and Fantasy: Octavia’s Legacy
This is one of numerous posts written today at the Riot in celebration of Octavia Butler's birthday. See all the posts here. Women writers have interesting barriers. The Mary Sue and Tor.com have discussed how female SFF writers, and SFF female characters, can easily become overlooked or forgotten. We don’t receive as much coverage due to implicit bias in our culture. This is ironic since according to history women like Mary Shelley have created the science fiction and horror genres. Tor.com mentions that the women that leave a legacy are the Smurfettes of the world, the token female authors that...
LUMINESCENT THREADS: Knowing Octavia Butler Through a Community That Loves Her
This is one of numerous posts written today at the Riot in celebration of Octavia Butler's birthday. See all the posts here. Do you often write dead letters - that you pen down in your journal on nights when you’ve been defeated - to your favourite author? I have done this, and I’m sure, dear Reader, that you have too. We have all bared our secrets and mysteries to our favourite authors at some point. A good thing about this habit is, of course, that at some point, brilliant people like Alexandra Pierce and Mimi Mondal might want to consolidate and...
Is it Possible to Misread Octavia Butler?
This is one of numerous posts written today at the Riot in celebration of Octavia Butler's birthday. See all the posts here. "Bloodchild" is one of Octavia Butler's most haunting, disturbing, and memorable stories, and is also one of the greatest things she ever wrote. And I know that I am not alone in having completely misread the story and entirely missed what Butler had accomplished. The titular tale in Butler's one and only short story collection, "Bloodchild" describes a future where humanity has developed a complicated relationship with a race of insect-like creatures known as the Tlic. The Tlic chooses...
Why Octavia E. Butler is Essential SciFi Genre Reading
This is one of numerous posts written today at the Riot in celebration of Octavia Butler's birthday. See all the posts here. I'm not really sure when I became a huge fan of Octavia E. Butler, but I do remember the first novel of hers I read: it was Kindred. I had been loving sci-fi novels at the time, but everything I picked up after The Hunger Games felt stale and repetitive (Christ, did we really need a whole Divergent series? Sorry, not sorry). I picked up Kindred because it sounded genuinely original, and it is: I couldn't put it down and...
Writers Inspired by Octavia Butler
This is one of numerous posts written today at the Riot in celebration of Octavia Butler's birthday. See all the posts here. Octavia Butler inspired many writers -- especially writers of color -- by showing them that they could be writers, that there was a place for their fiction. That their dreams were worthy of following. These writers' stories about Octavia Butler's influence shows how important the Own Voices movement is in publishing. We need books written by black women, with black women on the cover, prominently displayed on bookshelves. We needed them yesterday, but today will have to do. Thankfully, for...
Science Fiction That Isn’t Quite; or, Books to Read if You Loved KINDRED
This is one of numerous posts written today at the Riot in celebration of Octavia Butler's birthday. See all the posts here. My first significant memory of Octavia Butler is from college, when I was in a class about representations and intersections of race and sexuality, and we read her Kindred. Kindred is a strange, beautiful, harrowing, painful book in which a black woman in the contemporary U.S. find herself repeatedly and inexplicably drawn back in time to an antebellum plantation. For me, the “inexplicably” was so important that, when a friend in the class described the book as “science...
Discovering Octavia Butler’s FLEDGLING And Rediscovering Genre Fiction
This is one of numerous posts written today at the Riot in celebration of Octavia Butler's birthday. See all the posts here. I discovered Octavia Butler because of Betty Smith. Really! Ok, so what happened was: I read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn many, many, many times, for the obvious reasons. It was about a girl who loved to read, and while my family was not as poor as Francie’s we were not well-off. We were both Irish! (Well, I’m a quarter, but it counts in my head.) And, like Francie, I often spent hours and hours in my local...
5 Science Fiction and Fantasy Women of Color Authors to Read After Octavia Butler
Already read everything by the majestic Octavia Butler? In honor of her birthday, check out these other science fiction and fantasy women of color authors who are writing innovative, mind-blowing novels today. N.K. Jemisin Honestly, if you’re a fan of Octavia Butler and you haven’t read N.K. Jemisin yet, where have you been? Since the publication of her debut novel The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms in 2010, Jemisin’s ground-breaking, unique fantasy novels have only been getting better. To date she has three series to check out: the Inheritance trilogy, the Dreamblood series, and the Broken Earth series, the third novel of...
An Octavia Butler Reading Pathway
This is one of numerous posts written today at the Riot in celebration of Octavia Butler's birthday. See all the posts here. Today at Book Riot, we're celebrating Octavia Butler day. If you're not already a Butler fan, we hope that our posts have piqued your interest! If you're interested in reading Octavia Butler's work but don't know where to start, this post is for you! These books will give you a great introduction to Butler's writing. Start with ... Kindred. This is where I started with Butler, and of all her books that I've read, I think it has the...