Speculative fiction by writers of color

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Speculative fiction is defined as science fiction, fantasy, and horror. Within those categories exists many other subcategories, for example cyberpunk, magical realism, and psychological horror.

"Person of color" is a term used in the United States to denote non-white persons, sometimes narrowed to mean non-WASP persons or non-Hispanic whites, if "ethnic whites" are included. The term "person of color" is used redefine what it means to be a part of historically marginalized racial and ethnic groups within Western society. A writer of color is a writer who is a part of a marginalized culture in regards to traditional Euro-Western mainstream culture. This includes Asians, African-Americans, Africans, Native Americans, Latinos, Asian Americans, and Pacific Islanders.

While writers of color may sometimes focus on experiences unique to their cultural heritage, which have sometimes been considered "subcategories" of national heritage (e.g. the black experience within American culture), many do not only write about their particular culture or members within that culture, in the same way that many Americans of European descent (traditionally categorized as Caucasian or white) do not only write about Western culture or members of their cultural heritage. The works of many well-known writers of color tend to examine issues of identity politics, religion, feminism, race relations, economic disparity, and the often unacknowledged and rich histories of various cultural groups.

Asian speculative fiction[edit]

Japanese horror and its origins[edit]

Belief in ghosts, demons and spirits has been deep-rooted in Japanese folklore throughout history. It is entwined with mythology and superstition derived from Japanese Shinto, as well as Buddhism and Taoism brought to Japan from China and India. Stories and legends, combined with mythology, have been collected over the years by various cultures of the world, both past and present. Folklore has evolved in order to explain or rationalize various natural events. Inexplicable phenomena arouse a fear in humankind because there is no way for us to anticipate them or to understand their origins.[1] The early horror stories of Japan (also known as Kaidan or more recently J-Horror) revolved around vengeful spirits or Yūrei. In recent years, interest in these tales has been revived with the release of such films as Ju-on: The Grudge and Ring.

Japanese science fiction and fantasy and their origins[edit]

Japanese fiction has assumed a position of significance in many genres of world literature as it continues to chart its own creative course. Whereas science fiction in the English-speaking world developed gradually over a period of evolutionary change in style and content, SF in Japan took off from a very different starting line. Starting in the 1950s and 1960s, Japanese SF writers worked to combine their own thousand-year-old literary tradition with a flood of Western SF and other fiction. Contemporary Japanese SF thus began in a jumble of ideas and periods, and ultimately propelled Japanese authors into a quantum leap of development, rather than a steady process of evolution.

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Chinese science fiction and fantasy and their origins[edit]

Indian speculative fiction[edit]

Thai science fiction and fantasy and their origins[edit]

African-American (Black) speculative fiction[edit]

African-American science fiction and fantasy and their origins[edit]

Black speculative fiction often focuses on race and the history of race relations in Western society. The history of slavery, the African diaspora, and the Civil Rights Movement sometimes influence the narrative of SF stories written by black authors. Within science fiction, the concern is that many traditional science fiction works do not include black people in the future under any context, or only in sidelined roles.

As the popularity of science fiction and other speculative genres grows within the black community, some longtime fans and black writers branch out to write about "universal" themes that cross cultural lines and feature African and African-American protagonists. These stories and novels may not deal heavily with issues concerning race but instead primarily focus on other aspects of life. They are notable because, historically, many science fiction works that deal with traditional science fiction subject matter do not feature characters of color.

The cultural significance of science fiction works by black writers is being recognized in the mainstream as more fans indicate a desire for stories that reflect their interests in speculative fiction and also reflect their unique experiences as people of color. Non-POC fans are also interested in these works. While they may or may not identify with the cultural contexts of the work, they can and do identify with the characters within the context of the story and enjoy the science fiction themes and plots. This is indicated by the popularity of writers like Octavia E. Butler, Walter Mosley, Nalo Hopkinson, and Tananarive Due.

The contributions of writers such as Octavia E. Butler, usually credited as the first black woman to gain widespread acclaim and recognition as a speculative fiction writer, have influenced the works of new generations of SF writers of color.

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African-American and African-Canadian science fiction, fantasy, and horror[edit]

African speculative fiction writers of note[edit]

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Caribbean speculative fiction writers of note[edit]

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South American speculative fiction writers of note[edit]

U.S. Latino/a speculative fiction writers of note[edit]

Native American speculative fiction writers of note[edit]

Asian American speculative fiction writers of note[edit]

Anglo-Indian speculative fiction writers[edit]

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Further reading[edit]

  • hooks, bell (1999). Yearning: Race, Gender, and Cultural Politics. Boston: South End Press. 
  • Bogle, Donald (2001). Toms, Coons, Mulattoes, Mammies, and Bucks: An Interpretive History of Blacks in American Films (4th ed.). New York: Bloomsbury. 
  • Carrington, André M. (2016). Speculative Blackness: The Future of Race in Science Fiction. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press. 
  • http://www.afrocyberpunk.com/


  1. ^ Rubin, Norman A. "Ghosts, Demons and Spirits in Japanese Lore". Asianart.com.