Submitted by Alexandria Ducksworth

Did you know the first speculative fiction writers go back to the 19th century? Few notable writers were Charles Chestnutt and Pauline Hopkins. Black speculative fiction covers science fiction, fantasy, and horror elements within the African community. More black writers penning intergalactic adventures and fantasies wrapped in African folklore are making their presence known every day.

Here are five black speculative fiction authors you should read:

1. Marlon James
Jamaican singers Bob Marley and Peter Tosh inspired Marlon James into writing. James’ first book, John Crow’s Devil (2005), was rejected 70 times before it was published. In 2015, James won the Man Booker prize for A Brief History of Seven Killings (2014).


  • The Book of Night Women (2009)
  • A Brief History of Seven Killings (2014)
  • Black Leopard, Red Wolf (2019)

2. N.K. Jemisin
N.K. Jemisin became the first writer to win three Hugo Awards in a row thanks to her Broken Earth trilogy. TNT is currently developing the series into a TV show. One of the first black speculative books Jemisin has ever read was Octavia Butler’s Dawn (1987).


  • The Broken Earth Trilogy (2015-2017)
  • How Long Til’ Black Future Month? (2018)
  • The City We Became (2020)

3. Octavia Butler
The famed “Great Dame of Science Fiction” used to work as a dishwasher, telemarketer, and a potato chip inspector. She would wake up between two and three in the morning to get any writing done before her day jobs.


  • Bloodchild (1995)
  • Kindred (2003)
  • Fledgling (2005)

4. Tananarive Due
Tananarive Due has been writing since she was four years old. After meeting author Anne Rice, she dove into writing. Due currently teaches black horror and Afrofuturism at the University of California, Los Angeles.


  • The Living Blood (2002)
  • The Good House (2004)
  • My Soul to Take (2011)

5. Tomi Adeyemi
The Nigerian-American author’s career exploded after Children of Blood and Bone was released. The book won a Nebula Award in 2019 and the Goodreads Choice Awards for Best Debut Goodreads Author in 2018. LucasFilm is currently developing Adeyemi’s story into a movie.


  • Children of Blood and Bone (2018)
  • Children of Virtue and Vengeance (2019)

Looking for more speculative fiction writers? You can find the following authors in the GCPL catalog:

  • Alaya Dawn Johnson
  • Geoffrey Thorne
  • Jason Mott
  • Jewelle Gomez
  • L.A. Banks
  • Maurice Broaddus
  • Nalo Hopkinson
  • Nnedi Okorafor
  • Sidney Poitier
  • Walter Mosley