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Dark Matter: A Century of Speculative Fiction from the African Diaspora Hardcover – July 18, 2000
A network of beacons allows ships to travel across the Milky Way at beyond the speed of light. The beacons are built to be robust. They never fail. At least, they aren't supposed to. Learn more
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Dark matter: the Afro-American presence and influences unseen or unacknowledged by Euro-American culture.
Dark Matter: the first anthology to illuminate the presence and influence of black writers in speculative fiction, with 25 stories, three novel excerpts, and five essays.
This anthology's critical and historical importance is indisputable. But that's not why it will prove to be the best anthology of 2000 in both the speculative and the literary fiction fields. It's because the stories are great: entertaining, imaginative, insightful, sharply characterized, and beautifully written. The earliest story in Dark Matter is acclaimed literary author Charles W. Chesnutt's "The Goophered Grapevine" (1887), in which an aging ex-slave tells a chilling tale of cursed land to a white Northerner buying a Southern plantation. In "The Comet" (1920), W.E.B. Du Bois portrays the rich white woman and the poor black man who may be the only survivors of an astronomical near-miss. In George S. Schuyler's "Black No More" (1931), an excerpt from the satirical novel of the same name, an African American scientist invents a machine that can turn blacks white. More recent reprints include science fiction master Samuel R. Delany's Nebula Award-winning "Aye, and Gomorrah..." (1967), which delineates the socio-sexual effects of asexual astronauts; Charles R. Saunders's heroic fantasy "Gimmile's Songs" (1984), in which a woman warrior encounters a singer with a frightening, compelling magic in ancient West Africa; MacArthur Genius Grant recipient Octavia E. Butler's powerful "The Evening and the Morning and the Night" (1987), in which the cure for cancer creates a terrifying new disease of compulsive self-mutilation; and Derrick Bell's angry, riveting "The Space Traders" (1992), in which aliens offer to trade their advanced technology to the U.S. in exchange for its black population. Other reprints include "Ark of Bones" (1974) by author-poet-folklorist Henry Dumas; "Future Christmas" (1982) by master satirist Ishmael Reed; "Rhythm Travel" (1996) by playwright-poet-critic Amiri Baraka (who has also written as LeRoi Jones and Imamu Amiri Baraka); and "The African Origins of UFOs" (2000) by London-based West Indian author Anthony Joseph.
Most of the stories in Dark Matter are original; these range even more widely in their concerns and themes. In the generation ship of Linda Addison's "Twice, at Once, Separated," a Yanomami Indian tribe preserves its culture in coexistence with technology, while visions tear a young woman from her own wedding. Bestselling novelist Steven Barnes examines degrees of privilege and deprivation when an African American woman artist is trapped in an African concentration camp in his unflinching contribution, "The Woman in the Wall." In John W. Campbell Award winner Nalo Hopkinson's sexy, scary "Ganger (Ball Lightning)," two lovers drifting apart try to reconnect through the separation of virtual sex. A mystic power awakens in the devastated future of Ama Patterson's gorgeous and tough "Hussy Strutt." An artist's infidelity changes two generations in Leone Ross's astute, magic-realist "Tasting Songs." In Nisi Shawl's sharp, witty mythic fantasy "At the Huts of Ajala," the spirit of a modern woman must outwit a god before she is even born. Others contributing new stories are Tananarive Due, Robert Fleming, Jewelle Gomez, Akua Lezli Hope, Honorée Fanonne Jeffers, Kalamu ya Salaam, Kiini Ibura Salaam, Evie Shockley, and Darryl A. Smith. --Cynthia Ward
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Top Customer Reviews
The first story by W. E. B. Dubois is the perfect example... this story of a black man and a white woman discovering that they are the only ones living among a massive meteor disaster in the streets of New York begin re-evaluating their roles as black or white, lower class or upper class and begin to see that none of that matters. As the last two humans living on earth, the record is wiped clean of labels and salvaging humanity is the only real issue.
It's a must read, can't put down, tell all your friends about book that will hopefully get the recognition and reward it deserves.
Some of the authors - Butler, Delany - I knew. Any friend of Dahlgren's is likely to be a friend of mine. Checked it out.
Start to finish, this anthology introduced me to people I would likely never have read - only because I had no idea who they were. Now I have a whole new reading list from authors I met in this collection. I have yet to be disappointed in a novel from any of the authors I met here, and I continue to seek out their work at the library.
Thank you Sheree R. Thomas for putting these works together for me to sample many new-to-me authors of speculative/science fiction.
Now the party crasher has arrived. "Dark Matter" not only bum rushes the party yelling, "We are here and things will never be the same!" It also informs the partygoers that we have always been here.
"Dark Matter: A Century of Speculative Fiction from the African Diaspora" is an important anthology that sends an important message. Sheree R. Thomas has compiled a wonderful collection of SF from all over the African Diaspora. Every aspect of SF is covered in the wonderful tales that are included in this book.
Steven Barnes' "The Woman in the Wall" is the best fiction I read from him. This story is definitely one of the emotional highlights of the anthology. Nalo Hopkinson has two stories and both are excellent. "The Space Traders" by Derrick Bell brings up many important issues concerning the role African Americans play in our society. This book is full on many more examples of thought provoking and emotional fiction.
The essays included in this book will give you a better understanding of racism within the science fiction community and hope for a more inclusive future.
I hope that every SF fan embraces this book.
The settings and themes of these short stories are uniformly fascinating and thought-provoking for any intelligent reader. As with any collection of works from various writers, the quality of the stories varies a bit, and this book does have a few bumps in the road that deserve the thumbs-down for heavy-handedness. Examples include the predictable melodrama of 'The Woman in the Wall' by Steven Barnes, or the poorly-plotted conspiracy theories of 'The Space Traders' by Derrick Bell. However, these are minor quibbles, and even these stories contribute to the sheer fascination of this book as a whole.
My favorites include the supremely moving Jazz Age vampire story 'Chicago 1927' by Jewelle Gomez, an outstanding look at the human costs of cloning in 'Like Daughter' by Tananarive Due, the creepy erotic thriller 'Ganger (Ball Lightning)' by Nalo Hopkinson, and the heartbreaking dark fantasy of 'Gimmile's Songs' by Charles Saunders. Of historical interest we have 'Aye, and Gomorrah...' from the master Samuel Delany, the groundbreaking 'The Goophered Grapevine' from way back in 1887 by Charles Chesnutt, and the very chilling 'The Comet' by W.E.B. DuBois (I had forgotten that DuBois wrote fiction, and his important stories are ripe for rediscovery). Kudos to Sheree Thomas for creating this hugely important, haunting, and illuminating anthology. [~doomsdayer520~]
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Amazing collection and so important. This should be a mandatory read for all people interested in people of color and science fiction.Published 1 month ago by Joy Sanchez
This is a wonderful compilation of intriguing, well-written stories!! Every story was different in their own unique way. The writers are truly talented. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Fofoye
I've read half of this book so far and I haven't been disappointed with a story yet. Better than any collection of speculative fiction that I have read before and I look forward to... Read morePublished on March 17, 2013 by j-me
I am learning about work I was not aware of. I appreciate this book for helping me to understand speculative fiction,Published on January 14, 2013 by Malaika
Writers of African descent have played a long and important role in the history of speculative literature, even though that's not always recognized, either in the past or today. Read morePublished on January 30, 2004 by GB Banks (publisher, author)
I am 56 and have been reading sci fi/fantasy since, oh, about 10. This is one of the best collection of stories I have ever read. You'll be glad you read it. Read morePublished on October 5, 2003
I've long suspected there were more writers of color out there besides Octivia Butler and Samuel Delany. Ms. Thomas introduces a rich collection spanning decades. Read morePublished on April 1, 2002 by Gary
A huge sci-fi and fantasy reader I am also getting ready to be a high school teacher of special ed, reading & English. Read morePublished on March 12, 2002 by Julia Walter