The Pulitzer Prize winner Junot Diaz, highfalutin’ literary author though he may be, has famously mourned the fact that there will be no more Octavia Butler books. The iconic Black author, who won both a PEN Lifetime Achievement Award and a MacArthur “Genius” grant—not to mention the Hugo, the Nebula, and the Locus—died in 2006, leaving behind her nearly twenty of the most enduring science fiction and fantasy books of all time, which explore themes related to race, class, gender, and the environment in ways few of even her most prescient peers could imagine.
But to mourn for Butler is to overlook the fact that the Black speculative tradition in the U.S. is alive and well, and women are leading the charge. From Afrofuturism to vampire epics, Caribbean ghost stories to alternate histories, their books are equal parts escapism and engagement, shining light on the politics of the present moment even as they open doorways to other worlds.
Meet five of the reigning queens of spec fic.
Read the rest of the post over at LitReactor.