Black History Month: Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror

Will Harlan | February 12, 2021



Black History Month: SciFi, Fantasy, and Horror

We are celebrating Black History Month with weekly reading recommendation lists throughout February. This list features works of science fiction, fantasy, and horror by Black authors for readers of all ages.

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Black History Month: Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror — books, movies, and more by Black creators with elements of science fiction, fantasy, or horror


Everfair

Nisi Shawl

From noted short story writer Nisi Shawl comes a brilliant alternate-history novel set in the Belgian Congo. What if the African natives developed steam power ahead of their colonial oppressors? What might have come of Belgium's disastrous colonization of the Congo if the native populations had learned about steam technology a bit earlier? Fabian Socialists from Great Britain join forces with African-American missionaries to purchase land from the Belgian Congo's "owner," King Leopold II. This land, named Everfair, is set aside as a safe haven, an imaginary Utopia for native populations of the Congo as well as escaped slaves returning from America and other places where African natives were being mistreated. Shawl's speculative masterpiece manages to turn one of the worst human rights disasters on record into a marvelous and exciting exploration of the possibilities inherent in a turn of history. Everfair is told from a multiplicity of voices: Africans, Europeans, East Asians, and African Americans in complex relationships with one another, in a compelling range of voices that have historically been silenced. Everfair is not only a beautiful book but an educational and inspiring one that will give the reader new insight into an often ignored period of history. At the Publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management Software (DRM) applied.

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Song of Blood & Stone

L. Penelope

A Time Magazine Best Fantasy Book of 2018 L. Penelope's Song of Blood & Stone is a treacherous, thrilling, epic fantasy about an outcast drawn into a war between two powerful rulers. The kingdoms of Elsira and Lagrimar have been separated for centuries by the Mantle, a magical veil that has enforced a tremulous peace between the two lands. But now, the Mantle is cracking and the True Father, ruler of Lagrimar and the most powerful Earthsinger in the world, finally sees a way into Elsira to seize power. All Jasminda ever wanted was to live quietly on her farm, away from the prying eyes of those in the nearby town. Branded an outcast by the color of her skin and her gift of Earthsong, she’s been shunned all her life and has learned to steer clear from the townsfolk...until a group of Lagrimari soldiers wander into her valley with an Elsiran spy, believing they are still in Lagrimar. Through Jack, the spy, Jasminda learns that the Mantle is weakening, allowing people to slip through without notice. And even more troubling: Lagrimar is mobilizing, and if no one finds a way to restore the Mantle, it might be too late for Elsira. Their only hope lies in uncovering the secrets of the Queen Who Sleeps and Jasminda’s Earthsong is the key to unravel them. Thrust into a hostile society and a world she doesn’t know, Jasminda and Jack race to unveil an ancient mystery that might offer salvation.

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The Lesson

Cadwell Turnbull

An alien ship rests over Water Island. For five years the people of the US Virgin Islands have lived with the Ynaa, a race of superadvanced aliens on a research mission they will not fully disclose. They are benevolent in many ways but meet any act of aggression with disproportional wrath. This has led to a strained relationship between the Ynaa and the local Virgin Islanders and a peace that cannot last. A year after the death of a young boy at the hands of an Ynaa, three families find themselves at the center of the inevitable conflict, witnesses and victims to events that will touch everyone and teach a terrible lesson.

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Friday Black

Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah

A piercingly raw debut story collection from a young writer with an explosive voice; a treacherously surreal, and, at times, heartbreakingly satirical look at what it's like to be young and black in America.

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A Song Below Water

Bethany C. Morrow

Bethany C. Morrow's A Song Below Water is the story for today’s readers — a captivating modern fantasy about Back sirens, friendship, and self-discovery set against the challenges of today's racism and sexism. In a society determined to keep her under lock and key, Tavia must hide her siren powers. Meanwhile, Effie is fighting her own family struggles, pitted against literal demons from her past. Together, these best friends must navigate through the perils of high school’s junior year. But everything changes in the aftermath of a siren murder trial that rocks the nation, and Tavia accidentally lets out her magical voice at the worst possible moment. Soon, nothing in Portland, Oregon, seems safe. To save themselves from drowning, it’s only Tavia and Effie’s unbreakable sisterhood that proves to be the strongest magic of all. "It's beautiful and it's brilliant.”--Jason Reynolds, #1 New York Times bestselling author and National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature “An enthralling tale of Black girl magic and searing social commentary ready to rattle the bones.” — Dhonielle Clayton, New York Times bestselling author of The Belles At the Publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management Software (DRM) applied.

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Legendborn

Tracy Deonn

Filled with mystery and an intriguingly rich magic system, Tracy Deonn’s YA contemporary fantasy Legendborn offers the dark allure of City of Bones with a modern-day twist on a classic legend and a lot of Southern Black Girl Magic. After her mother dies in an accident, sixteen-year-old Bree Matthews wants nothing to do with her family memories or childhood home. A residential program for bright high schoolers at UNC–Chapel Hill seems like the perfect escape—until Bree witnesses a magical attack her very first night on campus. A flying demon feeding on human energies. A secret society of so called “Legendborn” students that hunt the creatures down. And a mysterious teenage mage who calls himself a “Merlin” and who attempts—and fails—to wipe Bree’s memory of everything she saw. The mage’s failure unlocks Bree’s own unique magic and a buried memory with a hidden connection: the night her mother died, another Merlin was at the hospital. Now that Bree knows there’s more to her mother’s death than what’s on the police report, she’ll do whatever it takes to find out the truth, even if that means infiltrating the Legendborn as one of their initiates. She recruits Nick, a self-exiled Legendborn with his own grudge against the group, and their reluctant partnership pulls them deeper into the society’s secrets—and closer to each other. But when the Legendborn reveal themselves as the descendants of King Arthur’s knights and explain that a magical war is coming, Bree has to decide how far she’ll go for the truth and whether she should use her magic to take the society down—or join the fight.

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War Girls

Tochi Onyebuchi

Two sisters are torn apart by war and must fight their way back to each other in a futuristic, Black Panther-inspired Nigeria. The year is 2172. Climate change and nuclear disasters have rendered much of earth unlivable. Only the lucky ones have escaped to space colonies in the sky. In a war-torn Nigeria, battles are fought using flying, deadly mechs and soldiers are outfitted with bionic limbs and artificial organs meant to protect them from the harsh, radiation-heavy climate. Across the nation, as the years-long civil war wages on, survival becomes the only way of life. Two sisters, Onyii and Ify, dream of more. Their lives have been marked by violence and political unrest. Still, they dream of peace, of hope, of a future together. And they're willing to fight an entire war to get there. Acclaimed author, Tochi Onyebuchi, has written an immersive, action-packed, deeply personal novel perfect for fans of Nnedi Okorafor, Marie Lu, and Paolo Bacigalupi.

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Dread Nation

Justina Ireland

Trained at Miss Preston's School of Combat for Negro Girls in both weaponry and etiquette, Jane McKeene is poised for a successful career protecting the wealthy from the encroaching plague of walking dead. But when families begin to go missing, Jane uncovers a conspiracy that pits her against some powerful enemies. Sent far from home, Jane will need all her resourcefulness, wit and strength of character to survive.

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Amari and the Night Brothers

B. B. Alston

A 13-year-old girl from the housing projects discovers her brother was more than he seemed ... And so is she. A gripping, fun, heartfelt new fantasy for an upper middle-grade audience. Quinton Peters was the golden boy of the Rosewood City low-income housing projects, receiving full scholarship offers to two different Ivy League schools. When he mysteriously goes missing, his little sister, 13-year-old Amari Peters, can't understand why it's not a bigger deal. Why isn't his story all over the news? And why do the police automatically assume he was into something illegal? Then Amari discovers a ticking briefcase in her brother's closet. A briefcase meant for her eyes only. There was far more to Quinton, it seems, than she ever knew. He's left her a nomination for a summer tryout at the secretive Bureau of Supernatural Affairs. Amari is certain the answer to finding out what happened to him lies somewhere inside - if only she can get her head around the idea of mermaids, dwarfs, aliens and magicians all being real things, something she has to instantly confront when she is given a weredragon as a roommate. Amari must compete against kids who've known about the supernatural world their whole lives and are able to easily answer questions like 'Which two Great Beasts reside in the Atlantic Ocean?' and 'How old is Merlin?' Just getting around the Bureau is a lesson for Amari, with signs like Department of Hidden Places this way, or is it? If all that wasn't enough, every Bureau trainee has a talent that is enhanced to supernatural levels to help them do their jobs - but Amari's talent, when it's revealed, is illegal. As if she needed something else to make her stand out. With an evil magician threatening the whole supernatural world, and her own classmates thinking she is an enemy, Amari has never felt more alone. But if she doesn't pass the three tryouts, she may never find out what happened to Quinton.

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Maya and the Rising Dark

Rena Barron

In this contemporary fantasy, Maya's search for her missing father puts her at the center of a battle between our world, the Orishas, and the mysterious and sinister Dark world.

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Shuri

Nnedi Okorafor, Vita Ayala

Collects Shuri (2018) #1-10. The Black Panther’s techno-genius sister stars in her own incredible adventures! T’Challa has disappeared, and Wakanda expects Shuri to lead their great nation in his absence! But she’s happiest in a lab surrounded by her inventions. She’d rather be testing gauntlets than throwing them down! So it’s time for Shuri to rescue her brother yet again — with a little help from Storm, Rocket Raccoon and Groot! But what happens when her outer-space adventure puts Africa at risk from an energy-sapping alien threat? Then, Shuri heads to America to investigate a lead, with Ms. Marvel and Miles “Spider-Man” Morales along for the ride! But with her people in peril, will Shuri embrace her reluctant destiny and become the Black Panther once more? Prepare for a hero like you’ve never seen before!

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Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky (Volume 1)

Kwame Mbalia

Best-selling author Rick Riordan presents Kwame Mbalia's epic fantasy, a middle grade American Gods set in a richly-imagined world populated with African American folk heroes and West African gods. Seventh grader Tristan Strong feels anything but strong ever since he failed to save his best friend when they were in a bus accident together. All he has left of Eddie is the journal his friend wrote stories in. Tristan is dreading the month he's going to spend on his grandparents' farm in Alabama, where he's being sent to heal from the tragedy. But on his first night there, a sticky creature shows up in his bedroom and steals Eddie's notebook. Tristan chases after it--is that a doll?--and a tug-of-war ensues between them underneath a Bottle Tree. In a last attempt to wrestle the journal out of the creature's hands, Tristan punches the tree, accidentally ripping open a chasm into the MidPass, a volatile place with a burning sea, haunted bone ships, and iron monsters that are hunting the inhabitants of this world. Tristan finds himself in the middle of a battle that has left black American folk heroes John Henry and Brer Rabbit exhausted. In order to get back home, Tristan and these new allies will need to entice the god Anansi, the Weaver, to come out of hiding and seal the hole in the sky. But bartering with the trickster Anansi always comes at a price. Can Tristan save this world before he loses more of the things he loves?

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The Jumbies

Tracey Baptiste

Corinne La Mer claims she isn’t afraid of anything. Not scorpions, not the boys who tease her, and certainly not jumbies. They’re just tricksters made up by parents to frighten their children. Then one night Corinne chases an agouti all the way into the forbidden forest, and shining yellow eyes follow her to the edge of the trees. They couldn’t belong to a jumbie. Or could they? When Corinne spots a beautiful stranger at the market the very next day, she knows something extraordinary is about to happen. When this same beauty, called Severine, turns up at Corinne’s house, danger is in the air. Severine plans to claim the entire island for the jumbies. Corinne must call on her courage and her friends and learn to use ancient magic she didn’t know she possessed to stop Severine and to save her island home.

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Shadows of Sherwood

Kekla Magoon

For fans of Percy Jackson comes a high-adventure retelling of the classic Robin Hood tale featuring a diverse cast of characters and a kick-butt heroine . . . Robyn Hoodlum.

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Dragons in a Bag

Zetta Elliott

In Brooklyn, nine-year-old Jax joins Ma, a curmudgeonly witch who lives in his building, on a quest to deliver three baby dragons to a magical world, and along the way discovers his true calling.

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Bayou Magic

Jewell Parker Rhodes

A magical coming-of-age story from Coretta Scott King honor author Jewell Parker Rhodes, rich with Southern folklore, friendship, family, fireflies and mermaids, plus an environmental twist. It's city-girl Maddy's first summer in the bayou, and she just falls in love with her new surroundings - the glimmering fireflies, the glorious landscape, and something else, deep within the water, that only she can see. Could it be a mermaid? As her grandmother shares wisdom about sayings and signs, Maddy realizes she may be the only sibling to carry on her family's magical legacy. And when a disastrous oil leak threatens the bayou, she knows she may also be the only one who can help. Does she have what it takes to be a hero? Jewell Parker Rhodes weaves a rich tale celebrating the magic within.

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Looking for more resources? We have you covered. Check out our entire list of Black History Month: Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror recommendations. For more personalized recommendations, fill out our recommendation form.

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