Out today: a two-volume, slipcased edition of Octavia Butler's Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Talents, introduced by Gloria Steinem and Toshi Reagon

As part of the renaissance in interest in the glorious science fiction novels of afrofuturist pioneer Octavia Butler (previously), Seven Stories press has just released a two-volume, slipcased set of Butler's fantastic post-apocalyptic adventure novels The Parable of the Sower (with an introduction by Gloria Steinem) and The Parable of the Talents (with an introduction by Toshi Reagon). Read the rest

Samuel Delany's 1977 Star Wars review: why is the future so damned white and male?

Samuel Delany (previously) is one of science fiction's titans, a pioneer who was the first openly gay writer in the field, as well as one of the first Black science fiction writers to attain prominence. Read the rest

Ava DuVernay is directing an HBO adaptation based on Brian Wood's DMZ

DMZ, an outstanding post-apocalyptic comic written by Brian Wood which came to its satsifying conclusion in 2012, and has been subsequently collected in beautiful deluxe editions (which also reprint my introduction to the series' third volume) is being adapted as a pilot for HBO by Ava DeVernay, the afrofuturist filmmaker whose work includes A Wrinkle in Time and Selma. Read the rest

The Folio Society is releasing a gorgeous edition of Octavia Butler's "Kindred"

Octavia Butler (previously), the brilliant Afrofuturist, McArthur Genius Grant-winning science fiction writer, died far, far too soon, leaving behind a corpus of incredible, voraciously readable novels, and a community of writers who were inspired by her example. Read the rest

Pedro Bell, the psychedelic painter behind Funkadelic's visual vibe, RIP

Pedro Bell, the visionary painter whose astonishing psychedelic art (and liner notes) appeared on numerous Funkadelic albums and shaped the P-Funk mythos, died on Tuesday at 69. Free your mind, and your ass will follow. From the New York Times:

“The artwork of Pedro Bell was an essential component of the alternately utopian and dystopian world of P-Funk, which placed African-American reality in the context of a science fiction future that was both scary and hopeful,” (art curator Pan) Wendt said by email. “Pedro was a brilliant autodidact who was a key source of George Clinton’s ideology through his readings of science fiction, media theory and environmentalist tracts, as well as his knowledge of Sun Ra’s Afrofuturism..."

Mr. Clinton was especially fond of what Mr. Bell came up with for Funkadelic’s “Standing on the Verge of Getting It On” (1974): an alien landscape that was both scary and whimsical.

“It was a combination of Ralph Bakshi and Samuel R. Delany and Superfly and Fat Albert and Philip K. Dick and Krazy Kat and Flash Gordon,” he wrote in his book, “all mixed together in Pedro’s brain with some kind of blender that hadn’t even been invented yet.”

Read the rest

An appreciation for Samuel Delany

Samuel R "Chip" Delany is a science fiction pioneer: a brilliant literary stylist with dazzling ideas who was one of the field's first openly queer writers, and one of the first Black writers accepted into the field. He is one of the fathers of afrofuturism. Read the rest

Check out these amazing sf movies made by Nigerian teens

The Critics Company is a collective of Nigerian teen afrofuturist filmmakers who make incredible looking, smart science fiction movies with camerawork courtesy of old, busted mobile phones and VFX generated in Blender. Read the rest

The real meaning of plantation tours: American Downton Abbey vs American Horror Story

There's a viral review of a southern plantation tour making the rounds in which a white person complains that the tour was "extremely disappointing" because of the "lecture on how the white people treated slaves" from a tour guide who was "radical about slave treatment." Read the rest

World Science Fiction Storybundle: $15 for 10 DRM-free books from around the world, benefiting English PEN

Lavie Tidhar (previously) writes in about the new World SF bundle from Storybundle, launched today: it's 10 books, from authors Nalo Hopkinson, Lauren Beukes, Saad Z. Hossain, Deji Bryce Olukotun,Jeannette Ng, Francesco Verso and TOBI Hirotaka, plus anthologies Afro SF 3 and The Apex Book of World SF 5. It's just $15 for 10 books, and a part of anything received goes to charity - we've partnered up with English PEN, who work tirelessly to promote translated fiction and authors' rights around the world, as our chosen charity partner. It's a great opportunity to get a whole lot of international speculative fiction in one go and a low price." Read the rest

A new edition of Octavia Butler's classic postapocalyptic Afrofuturist novel "Parable of the Sower," with an introduction by Hugo winner NK Jemisin

Macarthur "genius prize" recipient Octavia Butler (previously) is one of science fiction's most important figures, an author who wrote cracking, crackling, accessible and fast-moving adventure stories shot through with trenchant and smart allegories about race, gender and power (I like to think of her as "woke Heinlein"). Read the rest

Afrofuturist artist creates gorgeous portraits with Deep Dreaming

Wagner James Au sez, "AI algorithms, as AOC recently pointed out, often have a racial bias inherited by their creators, to the point where some can't even 'see' people of color. Afrofuturist Nettrice Gaskins teaches Deep Dream's AI to be aware of great black faces on a deep level." Read the rest

Must-see bizarro viewing: Boots Riley's 'Sorry to Bother You'

This isn't a review, but I'd regret not giving you a heads up about Sorry to Bother You, Boots Riley's first feature film. It's an absurd black sci-fi satire shot in Oakland and it's the off-the-wall dystopian summer indie flick we all deserve.

At the last minute last Friday, I put my hands on some tickets for its sold-out nationwide opening night at the Grand Lake Theatre in Oakland. And wow, am I glad I did.

It was a real happening. People cheered and laughed. Plus, the movie was simply fantastic. After the show, folks with tickets for the late show (which had the bonus of an after-show Q&A with Boots himself) were already lining up. Lots of people posed with the shitty Tercel featured in the film, which was parked right in front of the theatre.

Hilariously, you can buy that shitty Tercel for a mere $23,999.40 on the STBU website:

(I got my eye on that Mr. Bobo collectible plate myself.)

If you want to read what reviewers are saying, here's a good start:

Review: ‘Sorry to Bother You,’ but Can I Interest You in a Wild Dystopian Satire? by A.O. Scott of The New York Times:

"If Mike Judge’s “Office Space” and Robert Downey Sr.’s “Putney Swope” hooked up after a night of bingeing on hallucinogens, Marxist theory and the novels of Paul Beatty and Colson Whitehead, the offspring might look something like this."

Film Review: ‘Sorry to Bother You’ by Peter Debruge of Variety:

"Nearly as deranged as it is politically engaged, Boots Riley’s sui generis “Sorry to Bother You” is the kind of debut feature that knocks your socks off, tickles your bare tootsies with goose feathers for a while, then goes all Kathy Bates in the final stretch, ultimately taking a sledgehammer to your kneecaps."

This one might make more sense AFTER you've seen the movie:

In 'Sorry To Bother You,' an Alternate-Universe Oakland Rings True by Janelle Hessig of KQED Arts:

"The “don’t sell out” moral of the story is delivered with all of the subtlety of a circus clown with an erection, but appropriately so—there’s nothing subtle in being a person of color fighting to survive capitalism."

Go see it. Read the rest

Dirty Computer: Janelle Monáe's gorgeous, sexy, queer afrofuturist short film

Back in April, afrofuturist icon Janelle Monáe (previously released Dirty Computer, an "emotion picture" that serves as accompaniment to her album of the same name. Read the rest

For the first time in nearly 40 years, there's a new Parliament album!

George Clinton, explaining why Medicaid Fraud Dogg was being released under the Parliament banner, rather than Funkadelic: "Because the last album was (2014's) Funkadelic First Ya Gotta Shake The Gate. It's Parliament's turn." Read the rest

The BBC on Afrofuturism

The BBC has published a long and welcome feature on Afrofuturism, the term coined by former Boing Boing guestblogger Mark Dery to describe (in the words of Steve Barnes) "science fiction, fantasy and horror created by or featuring the children of the African diaspora (people of African origin living outside of the continent)." Read the rest

How African speculative fiction gave birth to itself

Geoff Ryman -- the brilliant science fiction author who curated last year's 100 AFRICAN WRITERS OF SFF project, continues to publish and curate excellent, exciting science fiction from across Africa. Read the rest

100 African science fiction writers you should be reading

Canadian/British science fiction and fantasy author Geoff Ryman, author of the incredible novel WAS, has begun a series in which he profiles 100 working science fiction and fantasy writers in Africa, place by place, starting with Nairobi. Read the rest

More posts