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PHOTO ESSAY

African American Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers

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Andrea Hairston

Andrea Hairston in an undated photograph. Courtesy of Micala Sidore.

Andrea Hairston (b. 1952) has enjoyed a distinguished career as artistic director of the Chrysalis Theater in Northampton, Massachusetts, where she is also a professor at Smith College. In the last few years, however, she has also become a lauded author of speculative fiction. Her first novel, the award-winning Mindscape (2006), is a science fiction thriller that sees characters racing across planets and dimensions in order to save their world from annihilation. Hairston's second novel, Redwood and Wildfire (2011), has a slightly more restrained premise (recalling the work of Octavia Butler), and straddles the genres of historical fiction, folklore, fantasy, and magical realism. Set in late 19th-century America, the novel looks at theater performers on an unpredictable journey from backwoods Georgia to the "futuristic" city of Chicago, employing telepathy, magic, and even teleportation along the way. Redwood and Wildfire won the James Tiptree, Jr. Award in 2011 for "science fiction or fantasy that expands or explores our understanding of gender." (http://tiptree.org/)

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