Black Atlantic Speculative Fictions
Octavia E. Butler, Jewelle Gomez, and Nalo Hopkinson
Routledge – 2010 – 194 pages
Since the 1980s, an increasing number of black writers have begun publishing speculative-fantastic fictions such as fantasy, gothic, utopian and science fiction. Writing into two literary traditions that are conventionally considered separate -- white speculative genres and black literary-cultural traditions -- the texts integrate an African American sensibility of the past within the present, with speculative fiction’s sensibility of the present within the future.
Thaler takes stock of this trend by proposing that the growing number of texts has brought forth a genre of its own. She analyzes recent fictions by Octavia E. Butler, Jewelle Gomez, and Nalo Hopkinson as in-between color-coded literary and cultural traditions by paying particular attention to concepts of literary history and time as well as postcolonial notions of hybridity and mimicry, race, and identity. The study treads on new ground since it not only offers a broader scope of the various speculative genres in which established and emerging black authors currently publish, but also shows that these fictions contest conventionally accepted notions of white genres and black traditions and, in consequence, of (post-)postmodern literature and popular fiction.
"Thaler's contribution is a welcome addition to the study of trans-Atlantic studies, to writing about the African Diaspora, and, above all, to speculative fiction. Advanced undergraduates and graduate students should find Thaler's analysis of black Atlantic sf stimulating and rewarding." - Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts
"Blazes a new trail… well-researched, insightful, and coherently argued. It represents an important addition to the scholarly criticism on American literature in general and Black Atlantic literature and Popular Culture Studies in particular. This monograph will hopefully pique the interest of more scholars to further explore the intricacies of this long-neglected yet vibrant field of research." - Marie-Luise Loffler, Amerikastudien, American Studies: A Quarterly
Acknowledgments Introduction: White Genres, Black Traditions? Anansi, Peter Parker, and Other Tropes 1: The Meaning of the Past? Allegory in Octavia E. Butler’s Wild Seed (1980) 2: Traveling through Time: Vampire Fiction and the Black Atlantic in Jewelle Gomez’s The Gilda Stories (1991) 3: Dystopian Future and Utopian Vision: Surviving Apocalypse in Octavia E. Butler’s Parable of the Sower (1993) 4: A Better Future? Ambiguity, Cyberpunk, and Caribbean Syncretism in Nalo Hopkinson’s Midnight Robber (2000) Conclusion: The Virtual Subculture of Black Atlantic Speculative Fiction Play It Forward: Black Atlantic Speculative Fiction and Its Futures Notes Bibliography Index
Ingrid Thaler is Coordinator at the International Relations and Research Unit, University of Hagen, Germany