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Science fiction and speculative fiction have seen a continual growth in popularity for years now. It makes sense that these genres have such a broad appeal: they are complex, imaginative, and often contain thrilling plots. Getting lost in a science fiction novel is a wonderful experience that I would encourage anyone to try. In the spirit of our ‘Read for Change’ series, I will highlight several excellent black science fiction authors in the Library’s collection. If you are looking for your next book please check out these five titles. But be warned, these are just the tip of the iceberg:

WeBecameTheCity

We Became the City by N.K. Jemisin

Summary: Five New Yorkers must come together in order to save their city from destruction in the first book of a stunning new series by Hugo Award-winning and New York Times Bestselling Author N. K. Jemisin. Every great city has a soul. Some are ancient as myths, and others are as new and destructive as children. New York? She's got six. When a young man crosses the bridge into New York City, something changes. He doesn't remember who he is, where he's from, or even his own name. But he can feel the pulse of the city, can see its history, can access its magic. And he's not the only one. All across the boroughs, strange things are happening. Something is threatening to destroy the city and her six newborn avatars unless they can come together and stop it once and for all. 

Binti

Binti by Nnedi Okorafor

Summary: Winner of the Hugo Award and the Nebula Award for Best Novella! Her name is Binti, and she is the first of the Himba people ever to be offered admission at Oomza University, the finest institution of higher learning in the galaxy. But to accept the offer will mean giving up her position in her family to travel between the stars among strangers who do not share her ways or respect her customs. Knowledge comes at a cost, one that Binti is willing to pay, but her journey will not be easy. The world she seeks to enter has long warred with the Meduse, an alien race that has become the stuff of nightmares. Oomza University has wronged the Meduse, and Binti's stellar travel will bring her within their deadly reach. If Binti hopes to survive the legacy of a war not of her making, she will need both the gifts of her people and the wisdom enshrined within the university itself — but first she has to make it there, alive.

ParableOfTheSower

Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler

Summary: Lauren Olamina and her family live in one of the only safe neighborhoods remaining on the outskirts of Los Angeles. Behind the walls of their defended enclave, Lauren's father, a preacher, and a handful of other citizens, try to salvage what remains of a culture that has been destroyed by drugs, war, and chronic shortages of water, gasoline, and more. While her father tries to lead people on the righteous path, Lauren struggles with hyper-empathy, a condition that makes her extraordinarily sensitive to the pain of others. When fire destroys their compound, Lauren's family is killed and she is forced out into a world that is facing apocalypse. With a handful of other refugees, Lauren must make her way north to safety, along the way conceiving a revolutionary idea that may mean salvation for all mankind. From a recipient of the MacArthur Fellowship who has won multiple Nebula and Hugo Awards, this iconic novel is "a gripping tale of survival and a poignant account of growing up sane in a disintegrating world" (The New York Times Book Review ). This ebook features an illustrated biography of Octavia E. Butler including rare images from the author's estate.

TheLesson

The Lesson by Cadwell Turnbull

Summary: An alien ship rests over Water Island. For five years the people of the U.S. Virgin Islands have lived with the Ynaa, a race of super-advanced aliens on a research mission they will not fully disclose. The aliens are benevolent in many ways but meet any act of aggression with disproportional wrath. This has led to a strained relationship between the Ynaa and the local Virgin Islanders and a peace that cannot last. A year after the death of a young boy at the hands of a Ynaa, three families find themselves at the center of the inevitable conflict, witnesses and victims to events that will touch everyone and teach a terrible lesson.

TheIntuionist

The Intuitionist by Colson Whitehead

Summary: This debut novel by the Pulitzer-Prize winning author of The Underground Railroad wowed critics and readers everywhere and marked the debut of an important American writer. Nominated as one of America's best-loved novels by PBS's The Great American Read It is a time of calamity in a major metropolitan city's Department of Elevator Inspectors, and Lila Mae Watson, the first black female elevator inspector in the history of the department, is at the center of it. There are two warring factions within the department: the Empiricists, who work by the book and dutifully check for striations on the winch cable and such; and the Intuitionists, who are simply able to enter the elevator car in question, meditate, and intuit any defects. Lila Mae is an Intuitionist and, it just so happens, has the highest accuracy rate in the entire department. But when an elevator in a new city building goes into total freefall on Lila Mae's watch, chaos ensues. It's an election year in the Elevator Guild, and the good-old-boy Empiricists would love nothing more than to assign the blame to an Intuitionist. But Lila Mae is never wrong. The sudden appearance of excerpts from the lost notebooks of Intuitionism's founder, James Fulton, has also caused quite a stir. The notebooks describe Fulton's work on the "black box," a perfect elevator that could reinvent the city as radically as the first passenger elevator did when patented by Elisha Otis in the nineteenth century. When Lila Mae goes underground to investigate the crash, she becomes involved in the search for the portions of the notebooks that are still missing, and uncovers a secret that will change her life forever.

And a bonus:

ApeoplesFuture

A People's Future of The United States: Speculative Fiction From 25 Extraordinary Writers. Edited by Victor LaValle and John Joseph Adams

Summary: For many Americans, imagining a bright future has always been an act of resistance. A People's Future of the United States presents twenty never-before-published stories by a diverse group of writers, featuring voices both new and well-established. These stories portray their characters fighting everything from government surveillance, to corporate cities, to climate-change disasters, to nuclear wars. But fear not: A People's Future also invites readers into visionary futures in which the country is shaped by justice, equity, and joy., This collection features a glittering landscape of moving, visionary stories written from the perspective of people of color, indigenous writers, women, the LGBTQ community, , Muslims, and others groups whose lives are often at risk.

 

-Elliot Stapleton, Library Associate
October 9th,, 2020

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