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PHOTO ESSAY

African American Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers

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Sheree R. Thomas

Sheree R. Thomas speaks at the Octavia E. Butler Celebration of the Fantastic Arts at Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia, 21 March 2013. Photograph courtesy of M. Asli Dukan.

Sheree R. Thomas grew up reading science fiction in her hometown of Memphis, Tennessee, but did not discover African American science fiction authors until college, when she was introduced to Octavia Butler's Kindred. Thomas has published a number of essays, poems, and stories, but in the world of science fiction she is probably best known as the editor of the Dark Matter anthologies. The first volume in the series, Dark Matter: A Century of Speculative Fiction from the African Diaspora (2000), collects dozens of stories and essays written by some of the most important figures in African American literature, many of whom are not normally considered sci-fi writers. Thomas's decision to define the anthology series in terms of speculative fiction allows the volumes to cover a range of related genres, including science fiction, fantasy, historical fiction, horror, mythology, and folktales. Samuel Delany, George Schuyler, Nalo Hopkinson, Ishmael Reed, Amiri Baraka, Walter Mosley, Octavia Butler, Charles R. Saunders, and W.E.B. Du Bois are among the many authors represented.

The debut volume received widespread critical acclaim, including honors in The New York Times and The Washington Post. The second volume in the series, Dark Matter: Reading the Bones (2004), was also well received, and presented a similarly diverse selection of writers. Thomas is currently at work on a third volume.

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