A first anthology of speculative fiction by black writers: 25 stories, 3 novel excerpts, and 5 essays, the oldest piece an 1887 tale of a bewitched vineyard, the majority from this year. Included are a couple of acknowledged classics: Samuel R. Delany’s “Aye, and Gomorrah,” about the effects on sexual behavior caused by astronauts who are themselves asexual; and Octavia E. Butler’s wrenching masterpiece, “The Evening and the Morning and the Night,” about a genetic disease whose victims helplessly mutilate themselves. In an excerpt from the 1931 novel Black No More, George S. Schuyler wonders what would happen if black people simply and easily became white. Derrick Bell imagines alien visitors whose only desire is to depart with all America’s blacks. In W.E.B. Du Bois’s 1920 tale, a comet kills everyone in New York except a poor black man and a rich white woman. Other topics encompass: Adam and Eve, vampires, music, modern folk tales, astral traveling, VR, multigenerational starships, female warriors, an American woman caught in the gears of an African civil war, the Ark, Santa, alien contact, UFOs, alien abduction, and robots. The essays are equally fascinating. Delany examines racism and science fiction—it’s largely unconscious but present, he reports. Walter Mosley predicts an imminent explosion of new, black SF writers. Charles R. Saunders becomes generally unhinged about Mike Resnick’s African fables. Paul D. Miller explores music and black identity. And Octavia E. Butler wonders how much reality is too much.
Read. Enjoy. Ponder.