Charles R. Saunders

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Charles R. Saunders
BornCharles Robert Saunders
(1946-07-12) 12 July 1946 (age 74)
Elizabeth, Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh, USA
OccupationShort-story writer, novelist, essayist and editor
GenreFantasy, sword and sorcery
Notable worksImaro

Charles R. Saunders also credited as Charles Saunders (born July 12, 1946[1]) is an African-American author and journalist currently living in Canada. During his long career, he has written everything from novels both fiction and non-fiction, to screenplays and radio plays.


Saunders was born in Elizabeth, Pennsylvania, a small town outside Pittsburgh. He later lived in Norristown before going to Lincoln University, from which he graduated in 1968 with a degree in psychology. He moved to Canada in 1969, living in Toronto and Hamilton, Ontario before a 14-year stay in Ottawa. He moved to Nova Scotia in 1985.[2]


According to Saunders he read his first work of science fiction in 1958, a misremembered novel by Andre Norton; this he states was what got him into the genre.[3] (The mutated Siamese he recalls in an interview with Amy Harlib was most likely Lura, the giant Siamese cat and companion to the hero Fors in Norton's 1952 novel Star Man's Son [later reprinted as Daybreak 2250 A.D. and Star Man's Son – 2250 A.D.].)

Inspired in Africa, he created the fictional continent Nyumbani (which means "home" in Swahili), where the stories of Imaro, his sword and sorcery series, take place.[4] In 1974, Saunders wrote a series of short stories for Gene Day's science fiction fanzine Dark Fantasy. The issue of Dark Fantasy with the first Imaro story found its way to Lin Carter, who included it in his first Year's Best Fantasy Stories collection, published by DAW Books in 1975. This publication brought Saunder's work to the attention of Daw publisher Donald A. Wollheim, who eventually suggested that Saunders turn his Imaro stories into a novel. Six of the novellas originally published by Gene Day in Dark Fantasy ("Mawanzo", "Turkhana Knives", "The Place of Stones", "Slaves of the Giant Kings", "Horror in the Black Hills", and "The City of Madness") would later be used in his first novel, Imaro, which was published by Daw in 1981.[5]

But a lawsuit by the Edgar Rice Burroughs estate over a poorly chosen cover quote, The Epic Novel of a Black Tarzan, caused a one-month delay in shipping as the books had to be reprinted, which led to poor sales. Saunders wrote and sold two more books in the series, The Quest for Cush (1984) and The Trail of Bohu (1985).[3]

Saunders lives in Nova Scotia. He works the night shift there at a local newspaper as a copy editor, and writes his thoughts out in longhand during the day. Nova Scotia's black community is largely descended from African Americans who went over to the British side during the American Revolutionary War and the War of 1812; they were given freedom and land in Nova Scotia after those wars ended, and created communities such as Africville. Saunders has written four non-fiction books about the Nova Scotia black community, including a collection of his columns.[5]

In 2006, small press Night Shade Books made a deal with Saunders to publish an updated edition of Imaro. This new edition excludes the novella "Slaves of the Giant-Kings", which Saunders felt held too many parallels to the present day Rwandan genocide.[3] In 2008 the second novel in the updated Imaro trilogy The Quest for Cush was published by Night Shade Books, and the company has decided not to publish any other Imaro novels at this time.

In 2008 Saunders released the related work Dossouye through Sword & Soul Media and the online publisher Lulu, Dousouye is a fix-up novel created from the short stories "Agbewe's Sword", "Gimmile's Songs", "Shiminege’s Mask", "Marwe’s Forest", and "Obenga’s Drum", the last previously unpublished. Dossouye herself is a woman warrior inspired by the real-life female warriors of the West African Kingdom of Dahomey. Her first stories appeared in Jessica Amanda Salmonson's Amazons![6] and Marion Zimmer Bradley's Sword and Sorceress,[7] two anthologies designed to increase the number and recognition of female heroes in sword and sorcery fiction. Agbewe's Sword was adapted by Saunders himself in the screenplay of the film Amazons (1986).[8] In 2009 he released The Trail of Bohu, the third title in the now ongoing Imaro series, through the Sword & Soul Media storefront.[9] In 2009 he released The Naama War the fourth and latest Imaro novel through Lulu.[10] In 2012, he released Dossouye: The Dancers of Mulukau, the second novel of Dossouye.[11] In 2017, released "Nyumbani Tales", a collection of Nyumbani stories that have not yet been republished, among them "Katisa," about Imaro's mother.[4] In 2018, publishes a story of Imaro in the anthology The Mighty Warriors, edited by Robert M. Price.[12]




  1. Imaro (1981) Second Edition (2006) Third Edition (2014)
  2. The Quest for Cush (1984) Second Edition (2008)
  3. The Trail of Bohu (1985) Second Edition (2009)
  4. The Naama War (2009)
  5. Nyumbani Tales (2017)


  1. Dossouye (2008)
  2. Dossouye: The Dancers of Mulukau (2012)


  • Sweat and Soul: The Saga of Black Boxers from the Halifax Forum to Caesars Palace (1990)
  • Spirit of Africville (1992)
  • Share & Care: The Story of the Nova Scotia Home for Colored Children (1994)
  • Black & Bluenose: The Contemporary History of a Community (2002)


  • Die Black Dog! A Look at Racism in Fantasy – Toadstool Wine (1975)
  • Of Chocolate-Covered Conans and Pompous Pygmies – New Fantasy Journal #1 (1976)
  • Out to Launch: 1950s Nostalgia – Dark Fantasy #10 (1976)
  • Imaginary Beasts of Africa – Simba #1 (1976)
  • More Imaginary Beasts of Africa – Simba #2 (1976)
  • Why Blacks Don't Read Science Fiction – Windhaven #5 (1977)
  • The Gods of Africa – Wax Dragon #1 (1977)
  • Three African Superheroes – New Fantasy Journal #2 (1977)
  • Farmer of the Apes – Borealis 2 (1979)
  • Where Did Those Names Come From – Drums of Nyumbani #1 (1980)
  • To Kush and Beyond: The Black Kingdoms of the Hyborian AgeSavage Sword of Conan #56 (1980)
  • Fantasy: An International Genre – World Fantasy Convention (1984)
  • Out of AfricaDragon #122 (1987)
  • Why Blacks Should Read Science Fiction – Dark Matter #1 (2000)

Uncollected short stories[edit]

  • Bwala li Mwesu (The Moon Pool) (1976)
  • Betrayal in Belverus (Ghor, Kin Slayer chapter VI) (1977)
  • Cats in the Cellar (1977)
  • Luendi (1977)
  • Mai-Kulala (1977)
  • The Skeleton Coast (1978)
  • Through the Dark Past (co-written with Gene Day) (1978)
  • The City of Mists (co-written with Kenneth Huff) (1978)
  • Kibanda ya Kufa (The Hut of Death) (1978)
  • Death in Jukun (1979)
  • Mzee (1984)
  • Marwe's Forest (1986)
  • Death's Friend (1987)
  • Drum Magic (1988)
  • Ishu's Gift (1986)
  • Out-Steppin' Fetchit (1987)
  • The Last Round (1988)
  • Scorpion Sand (unknown)
  • In the Red Dawn (co-written with Gene Day) (unknown)
  • Imaro and the White Queen (unpublished?)
  • Amudu's Bargain (2018)

Dark Matter anthology[edit]

see also: Sheree Thomas

  • Gimmile's SongsDark Matter No. 1 (2000)
  • Yahimba's Choice – Dark Matter No. 2 (2004)

As editor[edit]

  • Balik and the Sirens of Alcathoe (1977)
  • Griots: A Sword and Soul Anthology (2011)

Screenplays and radioplays[edit]

  • Amazons – screenplay (1986, based on Agbewe's Sword)
  • The Sam Langford Story – radioplay (1987)
  • Stormquest – screenplay (1988)


  1. ^ Southwick, Reid (November 24, 2006). "The 'quiet storm' still blows through Halifax". King's Journalism Review. Archived from the original on March 10, 2008. Retrieved February 7, 2008.
  2. ^ Saunders, Charles R. "Autobiography" Saunders' official website accessed June 27, 2011
  3. ^ a b c "Adding To The Gumbo Mix: Charles R. Saunders - 2005 Interview". Archived from the original on June 7, 2011.
  4. ^ a b Stories from a S&S Griot: Nyumbani Tales by Charles R. Saunders
  5. ^ a b May 2001 Sci-Fi Dimensions interview with Amy Harlib Archived May 16, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ Jessica Amanda Salmonson (March 17, 2009). "Wild Realm Reviews: Golden Temple Amazons". Film Reviews at The Weird Wild Realm of Paghat the Ratgirl. Retrieved October 8, 2009.
  7. ^ Looking Back on the first Sword and Sorceress
  8. ^ Mistaken Indetidy
  9. ^ Bill Ward (January 24, 2009). "Imaro: The Trail of Bohu Now Available". Archived from the original on January 18, 2013. Retrieved October 8, 2009.
  10. ^ Imaro: The Naama War by Charles Saunders
  11. ^ Dossouye: The Dancers of Mulukau
  12. ^ Charles R. Saunders title listing at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database

External links[edit]