What does a black stormtrooper mean for creators of color?

I published a piece for Slate: FutureTense on Afrofuturism. In the article, I take a look at various trends unfolding within black thought and culture on science fiction and fantasy. Are black characters in scifi merely window dressing, or are they part of an emerging movement?

I interviewed Nnedi Okorafor, Ytasha Womack, Lisa Lucas, and Lionel Queen — all creators and publishers of color who are doing amazing work.

You can read the article here.

Bob Marley and writing: notes from Housing Works Books

Thanks to Housing Works Books for hosting me at a very cool event on pop music influences. I read about how reggae great Bob Marley influenced my writing. It was fun — I sang a few lines from one of my favorite songs, Zimbabwe, a track on his 1980 album Survival.

As usual, I forgot to take a photo so I was grateful for this Tweet by David Cotrone:

Several great writers were in the room: Darcey Steinke (she spoke about Kurt Cobain / Cher), Elissa Schappell, Kashana Cauley (The Strokes), Alexandra Kleeman (producer Max Martin), Jillian Mapes (how iTunes mediates her emotions), and Said Sayrafiezadeh (Journey). We probably should have created a playlist from all the songs and influences that the writers cited.

HousingWorks_PopMusicPoster

 

Brooklyn Book festival and upcoming events

I’ll be at the Brooklyn Book Festival this Sunday speaking on a panel called The Game of Life. It should be an interesting conversation with Emily Yoshida, editor at The Verge, and Chris Kluwe, former record-breaking punter in the NFL and author of Beautifully Unique Sparkle Ponies. Event starts at 12pm on the main stage. Also, you should check out the other great authors from my publisher Unnamed Press on Sunday.

On Monday, 10/19, I’ll be reading at Housing Works Bookstore and Cafe in an event on fiction and music. I’ll be talking about a South African jazz musician or about Bob Marley and karaoke.

Hope to see you there!

Nigerians in Space helps inspire scifi hashtag in Nigeria

This was, sort of, unexpected. OkayAfrica.com, a site I’m a big fan of, featured an article on a popular hashtag in Nigeria right now called #whenaliensmeetnigerians. It’s being used in all kinds of clever ways.

Anyway, I was psyched when I learned that graduate student Wale Lawal said this:

On what inspired his latest sci-fi-themed hashtag, Lawal tells us, “Numerous things: from Deji Olukotun’s novel, Nigerians in Space, to the rapidly growing community of foreign expats in Lagos. These two among many others, had been in my mind for a while. But I blame my thesis, ultimately. I am currently writing – and, thus, reading extensively – about tropical Africa in pre-colonial times.

Thanks for the shout out, Wale. And for anyone interested in the article — check it out here. Or just go on Twitter and engage in the conversation.

You can now read my essay on Shigeru Mizuki on Medium.com

mizuki_books4-d-q

The fourth volume of Shigeru Mizuki’s Showa series is coming out next month from publisher Drawn & Quarterly, and I can’t wait! I published my comprehensive review of the first three volumes of his work — as well as his other graphic novels — in World Literature Today as a feature article. It looks great in the print magazine, but it’s not online, so I published it on Medium.com. (I can do this under our contract, since WLT is cool like that.) Mizuki is fantastic and I put some time into this one.

You can read the essay here.