Booklist: Speculative Fiction by POC Authors

From a thread started by Silvia Moreno-Garcia (@silviamg ) on twitter (25 Nov 17):
“Name a speculative fiction book by a POC who is not Octavia Butler and explain why it should be better known.”

Also from that thread, another annotated bibliography on this topic:

Please forgive: if I mangled or missed your entry or comment in compiling this. DM me if it’s so egregious it must be correct. @anniepearsonok

Save or print list as a PDF.

Adeyemi, Tomi. Children of Blood and Bone.

Ahmed, Saladin. Throne of the Crescent Moon.
High fantasy in an Arabic styled culture where the heroes are an old, tired man of God, a young monk and teenager girl who shapeshifts into a fucking holy lion.

Arimah, Lesley Nneka. What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky.
Up there with The Broken Earth series for compelling, smart sci-fi that avoids relying on tired fantasy world tropes.

Asim, Jabari. A Taste of Honey.
Lyrical, trenchant, brutal, loving, intense, urgent, complicated. Transforms you forever after reading. Also LGBT+.

Aziz, Basma Abdel. The Queue.
Reveals, in speculative mode, why so many people were thrilled by the Arab Spring, and how and why it failed.

Badani, Sejal. Trail of Broken Wings.
Great insight into the Indian culture. Story isn’t for the weak of heart though.

Baker, Kyle. Plastic Man: On the Lam.
An explosion of hilarious creativity.

Baptiste, Tracey. The Jumbies series.

Barnes, Steven. Lion’s Blood; Zulu Heart.
Lion’s Blood: alt history take on America if there had been no Roman Empire. An alternate history novel. It’s was so good.

Barry, Quan. She Weeps Each Time You’re Born.
A gorgeous and poetic story of ghosts in Vietnam.

Basu, Samit. The Simoqin Prophecies trilogy; Turbulence duology.
Awesome India sff Books.

Belleza, Rhoda. Empress of a Thousand Skies.
Spectacular setting, political intrigue, and heart. I couldn’t put it down! I can’t wait to read the rest of the series.

Beukes, Lauren. Zoo City.
South African novelist

Blackman, Malorie. Black and White; Noughts and Crosses.
Black and White: Romeo and Juliet in the modern world. Blacks rule Britain. Whites are the underclass.
Noughts: flips dynamics of racial power. Her work has shown up in this thread yet – fantastic YA author. Most of her books are sf – not well enough known outside UK.

Blasim, Hassan (ed.). IRAQ + 100
Kaleidoscopic explorations of Iraqi society 100 years after the devastating invasion

Boullosa. Carmen. Heavens on Earth.
Necessary reckoning with the relationship between history and literature, particularly for those dealing with colonial pasts.

Brissett, Marie. Elysium.
A beautiful fractured narrative that explores gender, love, and colonialism’s erasure of indigenous cultures.

Broaddus, Maurice. Buffalo Soldier; Knights of Breton Court series.
Buffalo: Alt-history steampunk with characters telling stories to each other is amazing.
Knights: A retelling of King Arthur set in an Indianapolis project called Breton court.

Bruchac, Joseph. Killer of Enemies series.
Bad ass heroine. Envisions a post-apocalyptic world from a Native American Indian’s POV.

Bucknell, Tobias. Ragamuffin; Arctic Rising; Hurricane Fever.
Ragamuffin: Damn good cyberpunk/space opera mashup, which also explicitly explored how interstellar civilization was multiethnic, both in space and on planets.
Arctic Rising and Hurricane Fever: near future climate fiction books showing changes in politics and diversity as well as being kick ass action bks.

Chainani, Soman. The School for Good and Evil.
MG story of empowered girls that takes fairy-tale gender tropes and grinds them into the dirt.

Charteris, Leslie. The Saint.
Ventures sometimes into #specific territory.

Chee, Tracie. The Reader.
Beautiful book and I love how the magic system has been constructed.

Chiang, Ted. Hell is the Absence of God; Exhalation; Stories of Your Life and Others; The Merchant and the Alchemist’s Gate.
Stories: Includes The Arrival story but the entire thing is brilliant!
Merchant: A time travel novella, fable-like in its simplicity but deeply affecting.

Chng, Joyce. Starfang.
Werewolves in space is a great concept, well executed.

Cho, Zen. Sorcerer to the Crown; Spirits Abroad.
Sorcerer: uses magic to flay colonial logic.
Spirits: a wonderful collection of SFF shorts by based on Malaysian stuff. Plus, two of the stories include queer girl content. Transporting collection of short stories.

Choo, Yangsze. The Ghost Bride.
A gorgeous exploration of Chinese / Malaysian mythology. A ghost, murder mystery novel using Chinese folklore that is beautifully written.

Chu, Wesley. Tao series.
Fun action romp.

Chupeco, Rin. The Bone Witch.
witches and necromancy!!

Claybourne, Z.Z. (C.E. Young). The Brothers Jetstream: Leviathan.
Sheer unhinged inventiveness and sense of adventure. Can’t wait for the sequel!

Coleman, Claire G. Terra Nullius.
takes both a wide angle and microscopic view of colonisation in a riveting story that keeps flipping expectations.

Connor, Crystal. The Darkness.

Córdova, Zoraida. Labyrinth Lost.
QWOC finding their place in the universe: one gritty sf, one coming of age fantasy.

Dao, Julie C. Forest of a Thousand Lanterns.
Asian-inspired take on Snow White from the POV of the evil queen. Amazing world-building, complex women, wonderful storytelling.

Das, Indrapramit. The Devourers.
Lush, gorgeous and awful. Reading it is like feeling raw flesh give between your teeth. Gorgeous writing and a woman/lgbt-centered story from India.

de Bodard, Aliette. The House of Shattered Wings; Xuya stories and novels.
Xuya stories: a Vietnamese interstellar empire; brilliant commentary on the whole idea of such empires.
House: Fallen angels and dragons in post-apocalypse Paris. Addresses French colonialism and effortlessly mixes multiple religious mythologies.

De la Pena, Matt. Infinity Ring series.
SF is incredibly good.

Delany, Samuel R. Triton; Nova; Babel-17; Dhalgren; Driftglass; Empire Star.
Dhalgren: surreal, terrifying. The meta aspects of the story are fun. For people who read *Gravity’s Rainbow* and respond, No, no, no, I said I wanted to read something *weird*.
Triton: deals with utopias and gender in an extremely strange and interesting way. And because it’s a grand SFF epic which deals with one person’s inner life, not a war between planets (though that’s in the background).
Nova: An American utopia I would quite like to live in).
See also @BluejoWalton’s memoir about reading Empire Star.

Demory, Sean. Zobop Bebop.
Dark and violent yet playful urban fantasy about real magic and being certain you want what you wish for. Think voodoo Count of Monte Cristo in under 150 pages.

Drayden, Nicky. The Prey of Gods.
Godlike powers and AI. Various POV changes that are balanced. Really interesting story with unique characters, beautifully written and unforgettable!!

Due, Tananarive. Ghost Summer; Immortal series; The Good House; My Soul to Keep.
Ghost: captivating short stories; fascinating in its premise, and not just a little terrifying.
Good House: powerful, emotional, gripping haunted house ( and haunted family) story.
Master class in pacing/suspense. Interesting generational/familial themes.

Elliott, Zetta. Mother of the Sea.
Because how many black feminist/mermaid stories about the Middle Passage have you read?

Fine, Sarah. Of Metal and Wishes.
Bad ass heroine.

Gidney, Craig Laurence. Skin Deep Magic; The Nectar of Nightmares (out of print)
Speaks to the experiences of both POC and those on the LGBTQA spectrum, and because the stories are elegant and prose is simply beautiful

Gomez, Jewelle. The Gilda Stories.
Black lesbian time-traveling vampire.

Gonzales, Manuel. The Regional Office is Under Attack!
A delightfully goofy story of world-saving and defiance.

Hairston, Andrea. Mindscape; Redwood and Wildfire/Will Do Magic for Small Change.
Mindscape: weird and lyrical and just… I don’t even know how to describe why it hooked into my brain.
Redwood: have great characters, tell of unheard African and African American history, the importance of storytelling and a range of beautiful romantic and sexual relationship types incorporating mixed race, LGBTQ+ and Poly all shown as normal.

Hamilton, Virginia. Justice and Her Brothers.
A black girl with abilities facing the unknown.

Heilig, Heidi. The Girl from Everywhere.
Space/time travel by map!? How cool is that!?

Hogan, Ernest. High Aztech.
Exciting, and very, VERY funny. Dumped by its original publisher 25 years ago because there’s no such thing as Latino science fiction readers.

Hopkins, Pauline. Of One Blood.
Written in 1903, it probably is the first speculative fiction novel by an African-American woman. Some ghostly encounters, mesmerism and a hidden city in Ethiopia. Not the best ever, but absolutely deserving of more notoriety.

Hopkinson, Nalo. alt Road; Brown Girl in the Ring; Falling In Love with Hominids; The Salt Roads; Midnight Robber.
Brown Girl: takes place in a post-apocalyptic Toronto, and includes voodoo magic; a dystopian future story with great magic and social commentary, all tied into a terrific story with even greater characters.
Falling in Love: Brilliant writing, stories set in Afro-Caribbean culture, and unique takes on some familiar themes.
Midnight Robber: Moving and thrilling and the prose style is brilliant.
You can’t go wrong with any of her titles: skilled at world-building, queer content, good story-teller.

Hoshino, Tomoyuki. Lonely Hearts Killer.
Complex (yet not difficult) examination of identity and personal perception in a slowly-dissolving society.

Huang, S.L. Zero Sum Game.
Main character’s super power is a bone deep understanding of all things maths. You get to see her learning how to become a better person through interacting with others. A great fun book. Maths as a superpower!

Iglesias, Gabino. Zero Saints.
Noir+horror blend that elevates both.

Ireland, Justina. Dread Nation.

Ishiguro, Kazuo. Never Let Me Go.
A poignant, tragic tale of life as a second class person.

James, Marlon. Dark Star trilogy.

Jemisin, NK. Broken Earth books; Dreamblood duology; A Hundred Thousand Kingdom series; The Fifth Season.
Broken Earth: 3 strikes of creative lightening in a row. The kind of rare, once in a generation transformative works. The genre isn’t the same as before Fifth Season was released. Excellent post-apocalyptic sci-fi that grapples with humanity destroying itself due to colonialism + assimilation/destruction of other cultures.
A Hundred Thousand Kingdom: spectacularly imaginative and full of intensely realized characters.
Fifth Season: incredible world building.

Johnson, Alayad Dawn. The Summer Prince and Love and Other Drugs

Johnson, Harold. Corvus.
Very sly; it starts like it’s going to be a bog-standard satire of consumerism, but it zigs when you expect it to zag and ends in a very optimistic, affirming place. From a small press, but glad I took a chance on it.

Jones, Stephen Graham. Mongrels; Mapping the Interior.
A heartbreakingly beautiful and utterly real coming of age story but with werewolves!

Khaw, Cassandra. Hammers on Bone; Food of the Gods; A Song for Quiet.
Author is mistress of visceral gore, bright-sharp prose, gripping voice and beautifully unfolding worlds.
Her writing is so god damn beautiful with/out obscuring the point. She describes horror like it’s a lost lover.

Khorana, Aditi. The Library of Fates.
Indian fantasy, lush writing, female friendship, and what it means to be on the right side of history.

King, Maggie Shen. An Excess Male.
Near-future China, almost a comedy of manners/romance, very engaging characters.

Kitano, Yusaku. Mr. Turtle, translated by @TyranGrillo.
Exploration of alienation and community through the life of a cyborg turtle #SFinTranslation

Koyanagi, Jacqueline. Ascension.
Lesbians in spaaaaaaaace. QWOC finding their place in the universe: one gritty sf, one coming of age fantasy.
A queer starship engineer stows away on the last ship she repaired because she fell in love with its captain, has to deal with a chronic illness not to mention her much more glamourous sister while saving the universe.

Kuhn, Sarah. Heroine Complex.
Full of fun, snarky characters in compelling situations.

Kwaymullina, Ambelin. The Tribe series.
Digs into Australian issues of race while still offering hope and an action-packed YA superhero story.
Indigenous protag, post-environmental apocalypse setting. Engaging characters, thought out setting, unique approach to tropes, nicely balanced writing

LaValle, Victor. The Ballad of Black Tom; The Changeling; The Devil in Silver; Big Machine.
Ballad of Black Tom: a retelling of one of Lovecraft’s most racist stories from the perspective of a black man that shows the impacts of system racism on the individual. It rocks.
Big Machine: incredible. It’ll stick with you for the rest of your life. Funny, insightful, bizarre, flawless.

Lee, Chang Rae. On Such a Full Sea.
proposes a realistic what if now but more take on the economy, health care, immigration, and political facets in USA.

Lee, Fonda J. Jade City.

Lee, Yoon Ha. Conservation of Shadows; Ninefox Gambit.
Conservation: One of the finest single-author collections of short SFF in the last 20 years. Every story in it is a gem.
Ninefox: some of the most interesting world building; incredible and elegantly done worldbuilding.

Lin, Grace. Where the Mountain Meets the Moon.
Exciting, great characters that pull them into the story.

Liu, Cixin. The Three Body Problem.
Paints a very different picture of interstellar societies and that is a refreshing change from the touchy-feely benign-super-power ideas most books hold. This idea is so dark, it might even end up being true.
Author comes up with great ideas (China makes contact with aliens during Cultural Revolution) and follows through on them.

Liu, Ken. Dandelion Empire series; The Paper Menagerie (short stories); The Grace of Kings; Invisible Planets: An Anthology of Contemporary Chinese SF in Translation (ed.).
Invisible Planets: fantastic short work here that’s well worth checking out.
Dandelion Empire: Using works like Romance of the Three Kingdoms to ground a fantasy setting. Amazing characters and writing.
The Paper Menagerie: especially Good Hunting. Should be better known because they’re excellent stories; smart and prescient, I am constantly finding parallels in my everyday life.
Grace: beautiful mix of cultural influences, particularly from East Asia, to create unique and complex fantasy worlds with tons of amazing characters.

Locke, A. J. The ReAnimation Files series.
Heroine deals with the supernatural and magic. Selene is a Necromancer working for a Supernatural bureau that helps the dead settle their affairs. It has danger, drama, and action.

Lord, Karen. The Best of All Possible Worlds.
Thoughtful and insightful SF roadtripping.
Refugees, culture shock, and about people coming together despite different backgrounds.
Her books feel like contemporary fairy tales deeply rooted in history; always beautiful and strange.

Ma, Ling. Severance.
Dry, spare, haunting, and weirdly comic.

Manickavel, Kuzhali. Insects Are Just Like You and Me Except Some of Them Have Wings; Things We Found During the Autopsy.
Changed how I read and the way I look at the world.

McLemore, Anna-Marie. Wild Beauty.
Emotional journey combined with magical realism was so powerfully, incredibly done.

Mehta, Tashan. The Liar’s Weave.
Thoughtful, dense literary/historical fantasy from India, where cross-genre fic tends to vanish.

Faust, Minister. The Coyote Kings of the Space-Age Bachelor Pad; From The Notebooks of Dr. Brain; War and Mir.
The Coyote Kings: Heightened reality sci-fi where I can visualize all the places mentioned in Edmonton.
Notebooks of Dr. Brain: it’s amazing and perfect and gawddamned fun.
War: transforms imagination into adrenaline then back into thought.

Moreno-Garcia, Silvia. The Beautiful Ones; Certain Dark Things; Signal to Noise.
Dark Things: For world immersion, a way bigger cast than I was prepared for that’s still deeply engaging, actually creepy and interesting vampires, and Domingo’s near-naive kindness contrasted with Atl’s sharp edges.
Beautiful Ones: challenging social conventions, etiquette, and life with telekinesis.
Signal: the magic is really inventive and the characters feel like real people to the point where you feel they actually exist – very uncommon in spec fic. The characters are real and react to each other convincingly, the setting is vivid and distinctive, and it has some of the best tunes.

Mosley, Walter. Blue Light; Futureland; The Gift of Fire.
Futureland: Awesome structure of interlocked short stories. Afrofuturist Cyberpunk.
The Gift of Fire: a gorgeous contemporary/urban fantasy. Prometheus in S Central Los Angeles.

Murakami, Haruki — anything

Myers, E.C. The Silence 0f Six; Against All Silence; Fair Coin duology; Quantum Coin.

Naam, Ramez. Nexus.
Captures the political ugliness that will resist the rise of transhumanism.

Naylor, Gloria. Mama Day.
Has fantastic elements and is a wonderful family story.

Ng, Jeanette. Under the Pendulum Sun.
A missionary and his sister traveling to Arcadia to convert the fae and the story is dark, claustrophobic, and one of the most unsettling things I’ve read in a long time.

Nojiri, Housuke. Usurper of the Sun.
A great first contact story where the alien species is nonviolent and the protagonists try to find a way to make it so both humans and the aliens can live in peace.

Okorafor, Nnedi. The Book of Phoenix; Who Fears Death; Zahrah the Windseeker; Lagoon; Binti series.
The Book of Phoenix: a blistering, powerful story of exploitation, identity, and the power of anger. I’ve not stopped thinking about it since I read it last year. Revenge, catharsis and pre-apocalypse.
Who Fears Death: can be quite heavy at times, but will haunt you for a good long while.
Zahrah the Windseeker: should be better known, her other works deservedly get a lot of attention but I really love the characters in this one and the setting that blends technology and plant life in a really cool way.
Lagoon: A fantastic sense of place (Lagos). Richly written with interesting characters and great visuals. Should be assigned reading for First Contact stories. we are very close to living in the world she depicts in that book – and we need to uphold strong women protagonists like Adaora.
Binti: amazing spec-fic, taking on issues of racism and classism, and providing a tremendously resourceful WOC main character.

Okri, Ben. The Famished Road.

Older, Daniel Jose. Shadowshaper.
Tackles being a teen, body shaming, the displacement of being other without ever bringing those issues up as the Main Point. Rather the main point is that magic is about to take over NYC and the protag has to stop it.

Older, Malka. Infomocracy series.

Oyeyemi, Ruth. Boy, Snow, Bird; Mr. Fox; A Tale for the Time Being.
Boy, Snow, Bird: breaking patterns of abuse esp. in families, and how others’ perceptions shape who you become.
Mr. Fox: Reminds me of Joanna Russ and Margaret Atwood and Margo Lanagan: beautiful writing, sometimes painful exploration of power and gender, magical.
A Tale: A mediation on the dynamics of space and time in the face of disaster, it tells the story of one woman finding another’s diary washed ashore after Fukushima and it’s excellent :)

Palmer, Dexter. The Dream of Perpetual Motion; Version Control.
Version: A time travel story where none of the characters know they’re in a time travel story. Fresh look at some old SF ideas and sharp look at implications of common software development practices and shrink wrap licensing.
Dream: you haven’t read enough Shakespearean steampunk about greeting-card writers. dense, complicated and wonderful.

Pavamani, Madhuri. The Keeper Series.
Vividly drawn world and characters and deeply erotic. Dutch and Juma—you need them in your life.

Project Itoh. Genocidal Organ; Harmony.
The best social/military science fiction satire.

Robinson, Eden. Son of a Trickster.
Kept me up all night. That never happens now.

Royce, Eden. Graverobbing Negress Seeks Employment, story in FIYAH Literary Magazine.

Sakuraba, Kazuki. Red Girls: The Legend of the Akakuchibas (translated by Jocelyne Allen).
A multigen family saga enriched with clairvoyance.

Salaam, Kiini Ibura. When the World Wounds.

Samatar, Sofia. A Stranger in Olondria; The Winged Histories; Tender.
Tender: Each story expands the world and what we know and what we feel. because it’s about history and folklore and people and the future. humane and tender and clear-eyed and tough. A shape-shifting, transformative collection, so wonderful and surprising and imaginative. one of the best collections of speculative short stories I’ve ever read. Powerful and moving on every page.
Winged Histories: the fall of empire with/ a LGBTQ MC!!
Olondria: A wonderful ghost story, and the writing is drenched in beauty. Discusses cultural interchange and how people use religious fundamentalism as a way to control info/knowledge.

Sanders, Xen. Shatterproof.
Creates a world grounded enough to feel familiar but wondrous enough to keep a reader piqued. The 2 MCs need each other in a way that would seem to prevent them from staying together. Lyrical, intersectional.

Sato, Yuya. Dendera (translated by Edwin Hawkes and Nathan Collins).
Subtle beauty mixed with horror, and its depiction of a settlement of old women and their battle against a hungry bear

Saunders, Charles. The IMARO stories.
A too-overlooked thread in the tapestry of sword and sorcery, melding the flavor of adventure fiction with reflection on culture, identity, dreams, ambition, and fate.

Shah, Sami. Boy of Fire and Earth.
Two-part novel is the best urban fantasy I’ve read in decades.

Shawl, Nisi. Everfair.
Nuanced, layered fantasy. A #steampunk alternate history that challenges #steampunk assumptions left and right and, oh yeah, it’s excellent.

Smith, Sherri L. Flygirl; Orleans.
Flygirl: layered with mythic imagery, has sharp and clear writing, and a badass female POC protagonist.
Orleans: It has a female MC that is both gentle and nurturing, and strong and brave. It is YA so the platonic relationship in it is a fresh slant, and it is science-y.

Solomon, Rivers. An Unkindness of Ghosts.
SF with a gender nonconforming POC protagonist, queer characters, and an allegory to antebellum Southern racism. Puts wonderful fierce characters into a hopeless life on a generation ship and then finds them hope.

Tahir, Sabaa. An Ember in the Ashes.
So good YA.

Tang, Andrea. Hungry Demigods.
A kitchen witch sets out to undo a curious curse. Witty writing and memorable characters.

Thomas, R Kayeen. Antebellum.
Painful at times, it’s a powerful story that goes back in time to explore what slavery means and how reverberates with today’s cultures.

Thompson, Tade. Rosewater.
Intriguing novel of alien contact and transformation in near-future Africa. Clever narrative techniques enhance the protagonist’s story and growth.

Tidhar, Lavie. A Man Lies Dreaming; Central Station.
Central: A hell of a fun read.

Tieryas, Peter. United States of Japan.
Pulp-noir alternate history: simultaneously a hardboiled political thriller, a deeply affectionate homage to Japanese popular culture, and an incisive cyberpunk vision of a victorious post-WWII Japan

Tilahun, Na’amen Gobert. The Root.
Powerful fantasy featuring a POC and LGBT cast.

Udayasankar, Krisna. Immortal.
Indian mytho blended with desi fantasy. What’s not to love?

Venkatraghavan, Sukanya. Dark Things.
It’s rooted in Indian myth. Its protagonist is a yakshi, a shape-shifting succubus who seduces people to imbibe their secrets and leave them for dead. What happens one day when her target doesn’t die…cue ominous music.

Vizenor, Gerald. Treaty Shirts.
SF that is very successfully focused on Anishinaabe concerns and told in prose that draws on Anishinaabe rhythms. Beautifully done.

Vourvoulais, Sabrina. Ink.
Takes immigration policy to its logical extreme

Whitehead, Colson. Intuitionist; Zone One!
Highbrow in commentary and style, yet pure fun from start to finish. The intellectual’s beach read.
Intuitionist wasn’t marketed as speculative fiction, but it fits, and could otherwise get overlooked by that audience.

Wilson, Daniel. Robopocalypse.
Demonstrates the enduring resilience of Native American traditions into and adapting alongside technology

Wilson, Kai Ashante. Sorcerer of the Wildeeps; A Taste of Honey; The Devil in America.
Anything that man writes is magic. All game-changing, inspiring, beautiful, haunting work.
The magic neatly muddies the line between numinous and sufficiently-advanced-science. The emotional arc grabbed me by the heart and a year later still hasn’t quite let go. Especially the ending.
Mixes gosh-wow mind-blowing science-fantasy action and setting with gorgeous writing. And an evil necromantic tiger/wizard.

Wright, Alexis. The Swan Book.
Presents climate change dystopia as a continuation of violence against Aboriginal Australians; utterly extraordinary.

Yang, J.Y. Waiting on a Bright Moon (short story); The Black Tides of Heaven; The Red Threads of Fortune.
Features a queer protag in a romance with an enby and it’s a super fascinating world they’ve built. Very original and very alluring

Yee, F.C. The Epic Crush of Genie Lo.

Yu, Charles. How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe.
Brilliantly written, hilarious, and like nothing else I’ve read.

Zoboi, Ibi. American Street.
Handles immigration, family, and faith in a beautiful and heartbreaking way.