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Speculative Blackness: The Future of Race in Science Fiction Paperback – February 29, 2016
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"André M. Carrington takes readers on a voyage that beautifully maps gendered and sexualized articulations of Blackness across different speculative genres and media... Speculative Blackness is a wonderful book that makes indispensable contributions to Black studies, literary studies, studies science fiction fan fiction and fandom, and Afrofuturism."—Alexander G. Weheliye, Northwestern University
"An excellent exploration of blackness in sci-fi."—PopMatters
"This is required reading for those interested in popular culture’s role in constructing social identity."—CHOICE
"Speculative Blackness convincingly persuades that speculative fiction is an ideal space to explore the boundaries of blackness, and to consider new ways of thinking about the way blackness as a category is constructed and produced."—Souls: A Critical Journal of Black Politics, Culture, and Society
"Speculative Blackness makes an important contribution to ongoing conversations (both in the academy and in fan culture) about race and science fiction."—African American Review
"A telling and thoughtful contribution to discussions of blackness in science fiction, fantasy, utopia, and horror important to cultural production across a variety of media, including fandom, television, film, comics, and literature."—Science Fiction Studies
About the Author
André M. Carrington is assistant professor of English at Drexel University.
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For fans of sci-fi, fantasy and related geekdoms – here’s a book that takes you seriously. Now Carrington doesn’t promise to get to every single Fandom subcategory, but you’ve got your Star Trek, Sci Fi Mags, Comic Books (Marvel and DC, well sort of DC), Harry Potter, novelizations, and Buffy Too – and those are just the touchstones. You’ve got letters, phantom fans, digital archives -- it’s an intelligent geekdom discussion salad bar.
For those most interested in Blackness, Af-Am Sudies and related literary fields – here’s a work that illuminates a broadening vision of “the black experience”. There’s good discussion here on a diverse constellation of texts, all of which intersect with “blackness” in fascinating ways. And in a similar turn, the frame Carrington builds here also can help “make meaning” out of flashes of the fantastic that pop up in canonized black lit – like Morrison and such.
For academics – I can’t claim to know how this book fits in the current winds of academic discourse, but it seems to me Carrington has laid out a successful argument for thinking about genre writ large -- Let’s take this category known as Speculative Fiction and this category known as Blackness, and admit that they have porous, contested, interrelated, contradictory definitions. And with this understanding as the anchor for the lens of inquiry, we go through close readings of a diverse cross-section of texts (and their material conditions of reception and production) that illuminate a world of SF that is much more astounding and engaging than what SF may seem to be at face value (i.e. just pulp.).
For me – as a black sci-fi writer – this book has laid out a useful frame for thinking about my own work, especially in relation to the broader SF Universe. It’s a context-setting text that successfully weaves together disparate elements of what it can mean to claim both blackness and SF.
So yes! Useful book. Lot’s of fascinating nuggets. And a productive frame for re-thinking and repurposing all sorts of creative and intellectual pursuits.
Also, Carrington fails to discuss the _Star Trek: The Next Generation_ characters of Geordi Laforge; Worf; and Guinan (all played by African-American actors). "These characters are admirable – of the highest intelligence, fortitude, and integrity" (page 2).
Carrington makes the following unfounded, baseless claim: "Star Trek is a discovery narrative, imaginging a new age of exploration modeled on European colonial expeditions" (page 161). As I explain in _The Politics of Star Trek_ (chapter one), original series episodes are perhaps the most powerful and clear-throated critiques of empire and colonialism in all of popular culture: "Mirror, Mirror", "Arena", “Private Little War”, "A Piece of the Action", "The Paradise Syndrome", "Patterns of Force", "Friday's Child". All these episodes to one degree or another take aim at Western colonialism.