The second Popsugar Reading Challenge prompt has resulted in a lot of discussion about what is afrofuturism in the Goodreads group for the challenge. There are some better definitions here and here, but how I understand it, it’s a cultural movement imagining different realities or futures, centred on black people and African culture. It does not have to be set in Africa nor in the future to count. However many fantasy books fall into a bit of a grey area, just because they are by black authors does not always mean they are afrofuturism… Whatever you choose as your definition, it’s a fantastic sub-genre of speculative fiction!
When I first saw this prompt my mind immediately went to the Rosewater trilogy by Tade Thompson. Set in Nigeria, a mysterious dome appears and those nearby find their ailments cured. Around the dome the town of Rosewater rises, full of all the politics you’d expect from a new settlement. I loved this take on alien invasion. I’m pretty excited about Tade’s space-set science fiction (due this year but who knows during these weird times).
In War Girls, Tochi Onyebuchi imagines a future where the Nigerian-Biafran civil war never ended. The story is told from the point of view of child soldiers, their childhood stolen as they are turned into killing machines.
Afrofuturism can also look to the past, using alternate histories or time travel. I know a lot of people are planning on using Kindred for this prompt, even though I’m not entirely sure if it fits. I recommend reading it anyway! Another option could be Dread Nation by Justina Ireland, an alternate history with zombies.
And what about fantasy books? N.K. Jemisin’s Broken Earth trilogy is one of the best things I’ve read ever, is it afrofutrism? I don’t know but you should read it!
I’m not sure if I’ve helped or hindered your quest to find the perfect book for this prompt. I haven’t picked what I’ll read for it, maybe Remote Control or could be something else that catches my attention. If you’re doing the challenge this year, let me know what you’re planning to read!
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