There are two things that I’m trying to focus on this year: Diversity and Fantasy/Si-Fi novels. Fantasy is quickly becoming my favorite genre, so much so that I’ve decided to read very few other genres in the year 2017. I’m also trying to expand my reading to more Adult fantasy than YA because of my recent-found obsession with some Adult fantasy series (ahem…Lies of Locke Lamora). As most of you know, there is little diversity in Fantasy, which is why I’ve decided to start a series of posts that highlight diverse reads in the Fantasy/Sci-Fi genre.
This particular post is a list of Fantasy/Sci-Fi books that have Black protagonists or main characters. (Click on the covers or the highlighted, underlined titles to add on Goodreads).
- BINTI by Nnedi Okorafor
Sci-Fi | Novella |
Black Author | Protagonist is from an African ethnic group | Binti is from the Himba ethnic group that resides in Northern Namibia and whose people are known for applying a red ochre concoction to their skin.
Her name is Binti, and she is the first of the Himba people ever to be offered a place at Oomza University, the finest institution of higher learning in the galaxy. But to accept the offer will mean giving up her place 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.
2. A TASTE OF HONEY by Kai Ashante Wilson
Fantasy | Novella | Romance |
Long after the Towers left the world but before the dragons came to Daluça, the emperor brought his delegation of gods and diplomats to Olorum. As the royalty negotiates over trade routes and public services, the divinity seeks arcane assistance among the local gods.
Aqib bgm Sadiqi, fourth-cousin to the royal family and son of the Master of Beasts, has more mortal and pressing concerns. His heart has been captured for the first time by a handsome Daluçan soldier named Lucrio. in defiance of Saintly Canon, gossiping servants, and the furious disapproval of his father and brother, Aqib finds himself swept up in a whirlwind romance. But neither Aqib nor Lucrio know whether their love can survive all the hardships the world has to throw at them.
3. BROWN GIRL IN THE RING by Nalo Hopkinson
Fantasy | Sci-Fi | Horror | Mysticism | Dystopia |
Black Author | Own Voices | Afro-Caribbean culture | Apparently has awesome portrayal of gender and sexual orientation
The rich and privileged have fled the city, barricaded it behind roadblocks, and left it to crumble. The inner city has had to rediscover old ways-farming, barter, herb lore. But now the monied need a harvest of bodies, and so they prey upon the helpless of the streets. With nowhere to turn, a young woman must open herself to ancient truths, eternal powers, and the tragic mystery surrounding her mother and grandmother.
She must bargain with gods, and give birth to new legends.
4. THE ROOT (WRATH & ATHENAEUM #1) by Na’amen Gobert Tilahun
Urban Fantasy | Science Fiction
Black Author | More POC characters than non-POC | LGBTQ+ including a transgender character & a character who uses gender-neutral pronouns |
A dark, gritty urban fantasy debut set in modern-day San Francisco, filled with gods, sinister government agencies, and worlds of dark magic hidden just below the surface.
When a secret government agency trying to enslave you isn’t the biggest problem you’re facing, you’re in trouble.
Erik, a former teen star living in San Francisco, thought his life was complicated; having his ex-boyfriend in jail because of the scandal that destroyed his career seemed overwhelming. Then Erik learned he was Blooded: descended from the Gods.
Struggling with a power he doesn’t understand and can barely control, Erik discovers that a secret government agency is selling off Blooded like lab rats to a rival branch of preternatural beings in ’Zebub—San Francisco’s mirror city in an alternate dimension.
Lil, a timid apprentice in ’Zebub, is searching for answers to her parents’ sudden and mysterious deaths. Surrounded by those who wish her harm and view her as a lesser being, Lil delves into a forgotten history that those in power will go to dangerous lengths to keep buried.
What neither Erik nor Lil realize is that a darkness is coming, something none have faced in living memory. It eats. It hunts. And it knows them. In The Root, the dark and surging urban fantasy debut from Na’amen Tilahun, two worlds must come together if even a remnant of one is to survive.
5. THE FIFTH SEASON (The Broken Earth #1) by N.K. Jemisin
Fantasy | Sci-Fi | Dystopia |
Black Author | Diverse cast of characters (almost all POC) | LGTBTQ+ characters | Hugo award winner
This is where the world ends … For the last time.
A season of endings has begun.
It starts with the great red rift across the heart of the world’s sole continent, spewing ash that blots out the sun.
It starts with death, with a murdered son and a missing daughter.
It starts with betrayal, and long dormant wounds rising up to fester.
This is the Stillness, a land long familiar with catastrophe, where the power of the earth is wielded as a weapon. And where there is no mercy.
6. IMARO: BOOK I (Imaro #1) by Charles R. Saunders
Conan-inspired heroic Fantasy | Sword & Sorcery Fiction | Adventure |
Black Author | Set in Pre-colonial, alternate Africa | African mythology | Based on actual African tribal histories |
Saunders’ novel fuses the narrative style of fantasy fiction with a pre-colonial, alternate Africa. Inspired by and directly addresses the alienation of growing up an African American fan of Science Fiction and Fantasy, which to this day remains a very ethnically homogonous genre. It addresses this both structurally (via its unique setting) and thematically (via its alienated, tribeless hero-protagonist). The tribal tensions and histories presented in this fantasy novel reflect actual African tribal histories and tensions, and provide a unique perspective to current and recent conflicts in Africa, particularly the Rwandan genocide and the ongoing conflict in The Sudan.
7. WHO FEARS DEATH (Who Fears Death #1) by Nnedi Okorafor
Fantasy | Sci-Fi | Dystopia | Magical Realism |
Black Author | Set in Alternate, post-apocalyptic Africa | Deals with issues like genocide, color-caste racism and sexism |
In a far future, post-nuclear-holocaust Africa, genocide plagues one region. The aggressors, the Nuru, have decided to follow the Great Book and exterminate the Okeke. But when the only surviving member of a slain Okeke village is brutally raped, she manages to escape, wandering farther into the desert. She gives birth to a baby girl with hair and skin the color of sand and instinctively knows that her daughter is different. She names her daughter Onyesonwu, which means “Who Fears Death?” in an ancient African tongue.
Reared under the tutelage of a mysterious and traditional shaman, Onyesonwu discovers her magical destiny–to end the genocide of her people. The journey to fulfill her destiny will force her to grapple with nature, tradition, history, true love, the spiritual mysteries of her culture-and eventually death itself.
8. THE HUNDRED THOUSAND KINGDOMS (Inheritance #1) by N.K. Jemisin
High Fantasy | Romance | Magic |
Black Author | Diverse races & cultures |
Yeine Darr is an outcast from the barbarian north. But when her mother dies under mysterious circumstances, she is summoned to the majestic city of Sky. There, to her shock, Yeine is named an heiress to the king. But the throne of the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is not easily won, and Yeine is thrust into a vicious power struggle.
9. SAGA, VOL. 1 (Saga, Volume One) by Brian K. Vaughan (Writer), Fiona Staples (Artist)
Graphic Novel | Fantasy | Science Fiction|
Diverse cast of characters | Star-crossed Romance | Space soap-opera | Aliens |
When two soldiers from opposite sides of a never-ending galactic war fall in love, they risk everything to bring a fragile new life into a dangerous old universe.
From bestselling writer Brian K. Vaughan, Saga is the sweeping tale of one young family fighting to find their place in the worlds. Fantasy and science fiction are wed like never before in this sexy, subversive drama for adults.
10. ANANSI BOYS (American Gods #2) by Neil Gaiman
Fantasy | Urban Mythology | Folklore |
More POC characters than non-POC | West African mythology | Caribbean mythology |
God is dead. Meet the kids.
Fat Charlie Nancy’s normal life ended the moment his father dropped dead on a Florida karaoke stage. Charlie didn’t know his dad was a god. And he never knew he had a brother.
Now brother Spider’s on his doorstep — about to make Fat Charlie’s life more interesting… and a lot more dangerous.
I have recently acquired copies of some of these books but I haven’t read any of them yet so I looked them up and checked whether they were problematic. So far, I haven’t found anything questionable, but please let me know if you are aware that any of these books have problematic or misrepresentative content.
Which of these have you read already and which are on your TBR? Also, what type of representation do you want to see more of in this genre? Let me know down below:D