Beyond and After Butler

-posted by Veronica H.

Octavia Butler is a giant in science fiction and fantasy and her legacy is far-reaching. Her importance to the genre cannot be overstated. In honor of the recent Door to a Pink Universe Flash Fiction contest, I wanted to highlight some authors who are following in Butler’s footsteps and changing the definitions of science fiction and fantasy.

The Book of Phoenix cover imageNnedi Okorafor, a Nigerian-American author, combines complex political and social issues with African-based science fiction and fantasy for riveting fiction that explores the world we live in and those we might. Her most recent book, The Book of Phoenix, is a prequel to her World Fantasy Award-winning book Who Fears Death, and is set in a future Africa where the effects of technology, colonialism, racism, and war are explored with stunning beauty and intensity. It’s not necessary to read the books in order; both will blow you away. Okorafor has also written several young adult novels that deal with similar themes. She is currently working on a sequel to Akata Witch, a Junior Library Guild Selection book and a YALSA 2011 Best Book of the year.

The Fifth Season cover imageN.K. Jemisin has made a huge splash – more like a tidal wave – in the science fiction and fantasy community with multiple award-nominated books and short fiction. Her most recent series, starting with The Fifth Season, takes an unflinching look at the politics of institutionalized racism and what happens when that system begins to break down from the perspective of those who have had enough. Her prose is a force to be reckoned with and this book will stay with you long after you finish it. The eagerly anticipated second volume, The Obelisk Gate, will be published this August.

Falling in Love with Hominids cover imageNolo Hopkinson has been writing in the genre for almost two decades, with Brown Girl in the Ring and Midnight Robber being perhaps her most well-known books. She also edited, along with Uppinder Mehan, a 2004 anthology of post-colonial science fiction and fantasy titled So Long Been Dreaming that features an amazing collection of short stories by writers of color from all over the world. Her most recent work is a collection of short stories titled Falling In Love With Hominids.

Door to a Pink Universe contest judge Nisi Shawl is a prolific short story and essay writer. She has several short story collections available and a new steam-punk novel coming out this September, titled Everfair. Many of her reviews and columns can be found in the archives of the Seattle Times. She has won both the James Tiptree Jr. Award and the World Fantasy Award.

Anthologies are also a great way to discover new writers and there are several wonderful anthologies worth checking out: Sisters of the Revolution, edited by Ann and Jeff van Der Meer, Mothership: Tales from Afrofuturism and Beyond, edited by Bill Campbell and Edward Austin Hall, and of course Octavia’s Brood: Science Fiction from Social Justice Movements, edited by Walidah Imarisha.

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