August 25, 2016

Black-Speculative-Futurist Fiction: Dark Matter (Book Review Part 2)

These are the best out of the older stories at the time of publication versus those reviewed in Part 1.

W.E.B Du Bois’s “The Comet”: One of the first, maybe the first Black SF stories, and taking all things in considerations – the time it’s written in, etc – it’s pretty good. I can see this story adapted into a film, no doubt I can see certain elements rounded out a little better. The black and white politics – the last black man and white women in the ‘world’ – definitely gets the point across, based in Jim Crow/post-slavery time period of the 1920s. The mystery regarding the Comet in question, is the foundation of the story, so that two of them can have something they couldn’t explain, forcing them to be together, and whether they could stay that way for the sake of survival. The ending plot twist wasn’t expected, though an odd way to end the story – maybe to knock the reader off of their square, 

Derrick Bell’s “Space Traders” is a very experimental SF story that mixes racial and social politics, imagining a scenario of extraterrestrials coming to Earth wanting/demanding to acquire all African Americans in the U.S solely, in exchange for gold they have in abundance, which the bankrupt government are in need of. Various protests and potential economic repercussions follow this plot.

Octavia Butler’s “The Evening and the Morning and the Light” was definitely one of the best out of the collection. A good depth of character-psychology is delved into using Lynn and Alan, in this horror fantasy, where their disease in this world (referred to as DGD for short) causes lifespan shortening, suicidal and self-mutilating zombie-like tendencies.  
odd way to end the story – maybe to knock the reader off of their square, 

Just by how heinous and raw the descriptions are in the beginning pages, you can tell Octavia knew how to shock you but lock you into the story, luckily being well-rounded and not just shock value-based. One of the most interesting things explored is the relation of the artist, or the ‘crazy’ artist, innovator, etc being the flipside to having this disorder, which have, to this day (the story was made in 1987) real-world implications where people, if cultivated correctly, can turn what’s misdiagnosed as a ‘disorder’ into something for far greater creative purposes. The character Beatrice in the story made the reference to “Idiot Savants” for that relation.

This one even provides an afterword by the author describing the research process she used for developing the disease/pathology within the story.

Finally, a valued extra is the Essays after the fiction in the back of the book; for anybody who wants a more thorough wholehearted understanding of this genre, these are essential to read. Mainly, “Racism and Science Fiction” and “Why Blacks Should Read (and Write) Science Fiction”, by Samuel Delany and Charles Saunders respectively.

Overall Re-Read Value: 9/10

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