Black Science Fiction or Black Speculative Fiction is an umbrella term that includes a variety of genres including science fiction and fantasy where Black people are featured or serve as main characters. One of the primary focuses of this genre is critiquing social structures that enable racial oppression and how social change can be achieved.
Fantasy works feature worlds where magic, spiritual or other unexplained forces have great influence on the world. The genre typically includes elements of adventure, heroism, the battle between good and evil, and the struggle of self-discovery. Traditionally, fantasy is divided up into some of the following sub-genres:
In Black Speculative Fiction, Sword and Soul is a sub-genre of fantasy that focuses on African history, culture, and traditions. These stories are similar to the Conan series written by Robert E. Howard. This genre, however, is usually set in pre-colonial Africa and focuses on a single African hero. Author Charles R. Saunders founded the genre and and coined the term with his series of short storied titled Imaro and Dossouye.
Horror is a genre intended to disturb or frighten. The focus of the genre is to create an eerie and frightening atmosphere that creates a sense of dread for the reader of viewer. The central terror of the work can be interpreted as a metaphor for larger fears in society. The genre has several sub-genres that include:
In Black speculative fiction, Black Horror is a sub-genre of horror that focuses on the unique black experience and the ability to visualize trauma.
Alternate history is a genre of speculative fiction where one or more historical events occurred differently. Alternate history answers what if scenarios or displays a version of history that is not historically accurate. The genre requires three conditions:
This genre uses historical elements such as real events, people, and places to tell a story. In Black speculative fiction, alternative history reshapes Black experiences. It can be used to reshape the world into one where Black people are empowered or bring marginalized people to the forefront of various historical events.
Science Fiction refers to worlds and environments shaped by technological and scientific advancements. Works in this genre allow readers to imagine distant futures, fantastic technology, and alien interactions. Science fiction can be divided into two categories:
In Black science fiction and speculative fiction, people of the African Diaspora are placed in a position where they are actively making incredible discoveries or experiencing worlds of the future.