Promotional Image for Exploring Black Futures display

Exploring Black Futures

For Black History Month 2020, we’re using N.K. Jemisin’s How Long ‘til Black Future Month as a jumping off point to explore black futures in the library collection. Visit the display on the 3rd floor of PCL throughout the month of February to check out these items.

“But this is no awkward dystopia, where all are forced to conform.” ~ N.K. Jemisin, How Long ’til Black Future Month?

“All that you touch You Change. All that you Change Changes you. The only lasting truth Is Change.” ~ Octavia Butler, Parable of the Sower

Short Stories & Essays

  1. How long ’til black future month?Image of book cover: How Long 'til Black Future Month by N. K. Jemisin by N. K. Jemisin
    •  In the first collection of her evocative short fiction, Jemisin equally challenges and delights readers with thought-provoking narratives of destruction, rebirth, and redemption. In these stories, Jemisin sharply examines modern society, infusing magic into the mundane, and drawing deft parallels in the fantasy realms of her imagination.
  2. Conversations with Octavia Butler by Octavia Butler
    • In interviews ranging from 1980 until just before her sudden death in 2006, Conversations with Octavia Butler reveals a writer very much aware of herself as the “rare bird” of science fiction even as she shows frustration with the constant question,”How does it feel to be the only one?”
  3. Octavia’s brood: Science fiction stories from social justice movements by Walidah Imarisha and adrienne maree brown
    • Whenever we envision a world without war, without prisons, without capitalism, we are producing speculative fiction. Organizers and activists envision, and try to create, such worlds all the time. Walidah Imarisha and adrienne maree brown have brought twenty of them together in the first anthology of short stories to explore the connections between radical speculative fiction and movements for social change.
  4. Stories for Chip: A tribute to Samuel R. Delaney by Nisi Shawl and Bill Campbell
    • From surrealistic visions of bucolic road trips to erotic transgressions to mind-expanding analyses of Delany’s influence on the genre—as an out gay man, an African American, and possessor of a startlingly acute intellect—this book conveys the scope of the subject’s sometimes troubling, always rewarding genius.
  5. So long been dreaming: Postcolonial science fiction & fantasy by Nalo Hopkinson & Uppinder Mehan, eds.
    • The wealth of postcolonial literature has included many who have written insightfully about their pasts and presents. With So Long Been Dreaming they creatively address their futures.
  6. Dark matter: A century of speculative fiction from the African diaspora by Sheree R. 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.
  7. Flame wars: the discourse of cyberculture by Mark Dery
    •  As the essays in this book confirm, there is more to fringe computer culture than cyberspace. Within these pages, readers will encounter flame warriors; new age mutant ninja hackers; technopagans for whom the computer is an occult engine. The term “afrofuturism” was coined in the essay “Black to the Future” in this collection.


  1. Image of book cover: The Fifth Season by N. K. JemisinThe inheritance trilogy by N. K. Jemisin
    • Yeine Darr is an outcast from the barbarian north. But when her mother dies under mysterious circumstances, she is summoned to the majestic city of Sky. There, to her shock, Yeine is named an heiress to the king. But the throne of the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is not easily won, and Yeine is thrust into a vicious power struggle.
  2. The fifth season by N. K. Jemisin
    • Essun, masquerading as an ordinary schoolteacher in a quiet small town, comes home to find that her husband has brutally murdered their son and kidnapped their daughter. Mighty Sanze, the empire whose innovations have been civilization’s bedrock for a thousand years, collapses as its greatest city is destroyed by a madman’s vengeance. And worst of all, across the heartland of the world’s sole continent, a great red rift has been torn which spews ash enough to darken the sky for years. Or centuries
  3. The obelisk gate by N. K. Jemisin
    • The season of endings grows darker as civilization fades into the long cold night. Alabaster Tenring — madman, world-crusher, savior — has returned with a mission: to train his successor, Essun, and thus seal the fate of the Stillness forever. It continues with a lost daughter, found by the enemy. It continues with the obelisks, and an ancient mystery converging on answers at last. The Stillness is the wall which stands against the flow of tradition, the spark of hope long buried under the thickening ashfall. And it will not be broken.
  4. The stone sky by N. K. Jemisin
    • Essun has inherited the power of Alabaster Tenring. With it, she hopes to find her daughter Nassun and forge a world in which every orogene child can grow up safe. For Nassun, her mother’s mastery of the Obelisk Gate comes too late. She has seen the evil of the world, and accepted what her mother will not admit: that sometimes what is corrupt cannot be cleansed, only destroyed.
  5. Image of book cover: Parable of the Sower by Octavia ButlerParable of the sower by Octavia Butler
    • The time is 2025. The place is California, where small walled communities must protect themselves from hordes of desperate scavengers and roaming bands of people addicted to a drug that activates an orgasmic desire to burn, rape, and murder. When one small community is overrun, Lauren Olamina, an 18 year old black woman with the hereditary train of “hyperempathy”—which causes her to feel others’ pain as her own—sets off on foot along the dangerous coastal highways, moving north into the unknown.
  6. Parable of the talents by Octavia Butler
    • Parable of the Talents is told in the voice of Lauren Olamina’s daughter—from whom she has been separated for most of the girl’s life—with sections in the form of Lauren’s journal. Against a background of a war-torn continent, and with a far-right religious crusader in the office of the U.S. presidency, this is a book about a society whose very fabric has been torn asunder, and where the basic physical and emotional needs of people seem almost impossible to meet.
  7. Patternmaster by Octavia Butler
    • The Patternist is a telepathic race, commanded by the Patternmaster, whose thoughts can destroy, heal, rule. Coransee, son of the ruling Patternmaster, wants the throne and will stop at nothing to get it, including venture into the wild mutant-infested hills to destroy a young apprentice—his equal and his brother.
  8. Babel-17 by Samuel Delaney
    • Babel-17, winner of the Nebula Award for best novel of the year, is a fascinating tale of a famous poet bent on deciphering a secret language that is the key to the enemy’s deadly force, a task that requires she travel with a splendidly improbable crew to the site of the next attack.
  9. Dhalgren by Samuel Delaney
    • Bellona is a city at the dead center of the United States. The population has fled. Madmen and criminals wander the streets. Strange portents appear in the cloud-covered sky. Into this disaster zone comes a young man–poet, lover, and adventurer–known only as the Kid.
  10. Everfair by Nisi Shawl
    • Fabian Socialists from Great Britain join forces with African-American missionaries to purchase land from the Belgian Congo’s “owner,” King Leopold II. This land, named Everfair, is set aside as a safe haven, an imaginary Utopia for native populations of the Congo as well as escaped slaves returning from America and other places where African natives were being mistreated.
  11. Image of book cover: Binti by Nnedi OkoraforBinti by Nnedi Okorafor
    • Her name is Binti, and she is the first of the Himba people ever to be offered a place at Oomza University, the finest institution of higher learning in the galaxy. But to accept the offer will mean giving up her place in her family to travel between the stars among strangers who do not share her ways or respect her customs.
  12. Who fears death by Nnedi Okorafor
    • Born into post-apocalyptic Africa to a mother who was raped after the slaughter of her entire tribe, Onyesonwu is tutored by a shaman and discovers that her magical destiny is to end the genocide of her people.
  13. An unkindness of ghosts by Rivers Solomon
    •  Aster lives in the lowdeck slums of the HSS Matilda, a space vessel organized much like the antebellum South. For generations, Matilda has ferried the last of humanity to a mythical Promised Land. On its way, the ship’s leaders have imposed harsh moral restrictions and deep indignities on dark-skinned sharecroppers like Aster. Embroiled in a grudge with a brutal overseer, Aster learns there may be a way to improve her lot–if she’s willing to sow the seeds of civil war.
  14. The deep by Rivers Solomon
    • Yetu holds the memories for her people — water-dwelling descendants of pregnant African slave women thrown overboard by slave owners — who live idyllic lives in the deep. Their past, too traumatic to be remembered regularly, is forgotten by everyone, save one — the historian.
  15. Black Panther: World of Wakanda by Roxane Gay
    • You know them now as the Midnight Angels, but in this story they are just Ayo and Aneka, young women recruited to become Dora Milaje, an elite task force trained to protect the crown of Wakanda at all costs. Their first assignment will be to protect Queen Shuri… but what happens when your nation needs your hearts and minds, but you already gave them to each other?
  16. Electric Arches by Eve L. Ewing
    • Blending stark realism with the surreal and fantastic, Eve L. Ewings narrative takes us from the streets of 1990s Chicago to an unspecified future, deftly navigating the boundaries of space, time, and reality. Ewing imagines familiar figures in magical circumstancesblues legend Koko Taylor is a tall-tale hero; LeBron James travels through time and encounters his teenage self.
  17. Image of book cover: The Gilda Stories by Jewelle GomezThe Gilda Stories by Jewelle Gomez
    • Escaping from slavery in the 1850s Gilda’s longing for kinship and community grows over two hundred years. Her induction into a family of benevolent vampires takes her on an adventurous and dangerous journey full of loud laughter and subtle terror.
  18. Elysium by Jennifer Marie Brissett
    • A computer program etched into the atmosphere has a story to tell, the story of two people, of a city lost to chaos, of survival and love. The program’s data, however, has been corrupted. As the novel’s characters struggle to survive apocalypse, they are sustained and challenged by the demands of love in a shattered world both haunted and dangerous.
  19. The galaxy game by Karen Lord
    • On the verge of adulthood, Rafi attends the Lyceum, a school for the psionically gifted. Rafi possesses mental abilities that might benefit people or control them. Some wish to help Rafi wield his powers responsibly; others see him as a threat to be contained.
  20. The prey of gods by Nicky Drayden
    • In South Africa, the future looks promising. Personal robots are making life easier for the working class. The government is harnessing renewable energy to provide infrastructure for the poor. And in the bustling coastal town of Port Elizabeth, the economy is booming thanks to the genetic engineering industry which has found a welcome home there. Yes, the days to come are looking very good for South Africans. That is, if they can survive the present challenges.
  21. Escaping exodus by Nicky Drayden
    • Rash and unconventional, Seske Kaleigh should be preparing for her future role as clan leader, but her people have just culled their latest beast, and she’s eager to find the cause of the violent tremors plaguing their new home. Defying social barriers, Seske teams up with her best friend, a beast worker, and ventures into restricted areas, searching for answers. Instead, they discover grim truths about the price of life in the void.


  1. Image of book cover: Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi AdeyemiChildren of blood and bone by Tomi Adeyemi
    • Seventeen-year-old Zélie, her older brother Tzain, and rogue princess Amari fight to restore magic to the land and activate a new generation of magi, but they are ruthlessly pursued by the crown prince, who believes the return of magic will mean the end of the monarchy.
  2. Akata witch by Nnedi Okorafor
    • Twelve-year-old Sunny Nwazue, an American-born albino child of Nigerian parents, moves with her family back to Nigeria, where she learns that she has latent magical powers which she and three similarly gifted friends use to catch a serial killer.
  3. Akata warrior by Nnedi Okorafor
    • Now stronger, feistier, and a bit older, Sunny Nwazue, along with her friends from the the Leopard Society, travel through worlds, both visible and invisible, to the mysterious town of Osisi, where they fight in a climactic battle to save humanity.
  4. Dread nation by Justina Ireland
    • When families go missing in Baltimore County, Jane McKeene, who is studying to become an Attendant, finds herself in the middle of a conspiracy that has her fighting for her life against powerful enemies.


  1. Image of book cover: Afrofuturism 2.0 by Reynaldo Anderson and Charles E. JonesAfrofuturism 2.0: The rise of astro-blackness by Reynaldo Anderson and Charles E. Jones
    • This collection examines the applicability of contemporary expressions of Afrofuturism to the fields of Africana studies, cultural studies, and other areas of academic inquiry. The essays within this book identify the twenty-first-century expressions of Afrofuturism emerging in the areas of metaphysics such as speculative philosophy, religion, visual studies, performance, art, and the philosophy of science and technology.
  2. Afrofuturism and Black Sound Studies Culture, Technology, and Things to Come by Erik Steinskog
    •  In highlighting the place of music within the lived experiences of African Americans, the author analyses how the perspectives of Black Sound Studies complement and overlap with the discussion of sonic Afrofuturism. Focusing upon blackness, technology, and sound, this unique text offers key insights in how music partakes in imagining and constructing the future.
  3. Speculative Blackness by André M. Carrington
    • André M. Carrington analyzes the highly racialized genre of speculative fiction—including science fiction, fantasy, and utopian works, along with their fan cultures—to illustrate the relationship between genre conventions in media and the meanings ascribed to blackness in the popular imagination. Speculative Blackness reveals new understandings of the significance of blackness in twentieth-century American literature and culture.
  4. Afrofuturism: The world of Black Sci-Fi and Fantasy Culture by Ytasha Womack
    • This book introduces readers to the burgeoning artists creating Afrofuturist works, the history of innovators in the past, and the wide range of subjects they explore. From the sci-fi literature of Samuel Delany, Octavia Butler, and NK Jemisin to the musical cosmos of Sun Ra, George Clinton, and the Black Eyed Peas’, to the visual and multimedia artists inspired by African Dogon myths and Egyptian deities, topics range from the “alien” experience of blacks in America to the “wake up” cry that peppers sci-fi literature, sermons, and activism.
  5. Posthuman Blackness and the Black Female Imagination by Kristen Lillvis
    •  In this innovative study, Kristen Lillvis supplements historically situated conceptions of blackness with imaginative projections of black futures. This theoretical approach allows her to acknowledge the importance of history without positing a purely historical origin for black identities.
  6. Black Madness : : Mad Blackness by Therí Alyce Pickens
    • Therí Alyce Pickens examines the speculative and science fiction of Octavia Butler, Nalo Hopkinson, and Tananarive Due to rethink the relationship between race and disability, thereby unsettling the common theorization that they are mutually constitutive

DVDs and CDs

  1. Image of movie cover: Black PantherBlack Panther [DVD]
    • King T’Challa returns home to the isolated, technologically advanced African nation of Wakanda to serve as new leader. However, T’Challa soon finds that he is challenged for the throne from divisions within his own country. When two enemies conspire to destroy Wakanda, the hero known as Black Panther must join forces with C.I.A. agent Everett K. Ross and members of the Wakandan Special Forces, to prevent Wakanda from being drawn into a world war.
  2. A Seat at the Table by Solange [CD]
    • Calmly cathartic and considerably at odds with mainstream R&B, the progressive set promoted healing and empowerment in response to racial oppression. It debuted at number one on the Billboard 200. Standout single “Cranes in the Sky” (number 74 pop, number 28 R&B/hip-hop) won that year’s Grammy award for Best R&B Performance.
  3. The archandroid by Janelle Monáe [CD]
    • An “emotion picture” brought to you by Janelle Monáe and the Mad Minds of the Wondaland Arts Society. The star-studded featured cast includes the legendary Big Boi of OutKast, renowned poet Saul Williams, psychedelic dance-punk troupe Of Montreal, punk prophets Deep Cotton, and the Wondaland Arch Orchestra.
  4. Parliament’s greatest hits by Parliament [CD]
    • Parliament engaged in a funk free-for-all, blending influences from the godfathers with freaky costumes and themes inspired by ’60s acid culture and science fiction. Parliament hit the R&B Top Ten with funk classics such as “Up for the Down Stroke,” “Tear the Roof Off the Sucker (Give Up the Funk),” “Flast Light,” and “Aqua Boogie (A Psychoalphadiscobetabioaquadoloop).”
  5. Blade [DVD]
    • When the bloodthirsty Immortals’ lord, Deacon Frost, declares war on the human race, Blade is humanity’s last hope for survival.

Streaming Film

  1. Image of movie cover: The WizThe Wiz
    • A young kindergarten teacher finds herself in the Land of Oz, where she is greeted by Munchkins. She journeys down the Yellow Brick Road in search of the Wiz, and encounters a scarecrow, a tin man and a cowardly lion.

Streaming Music

  1. Space is the place by Sun Ra
    • This is the music that was recorded by Sun Ra & His Intergalactic Solar Arkestra for the film Space is the Place. Most of the music on this album is not heard in the film except in short excerpts, and there’s music in the film which is not on this album.

Twitter Handles

  1. Nnedi Okorafor
  2. N. K. Jemisin
  3. Tomi Adeyemi
  4. Janelle Monáe

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