Speculative BlacknessThe Future of Race in Science Fiction

Speculative BlacknessThe Future of Race in Science Fiction

André M. Carrington

Print publication date: 2017

ISBN: 9780816678952

Publisher: University of Minnesota Press

Abstract

Speculative Blackness analyzes works of speculative fiction—encompassing science fiction, fantasy, utopia, and their fan cultures—that illustrate the relationship between genre conventions in popular media and the meanings ascribed to blackness in the popular imagination. Rather than simply criticizing images of blackness in the genre, this book highlights the role of race thinking in previous authors’ accounts of the genre, emphasizing how the notion of genre itself is racialized. This book contributes to literary criticism, cinema and media studies, and American Studies by initiating a new conversation on black and white participation in popular art forms—fiction, fanzines, comics, television, and film—informed by studies of fandom and materialist approaches to cultural production as well as Critical Race Theory, feminist science fiction, black feminist thought, Performance Studies, and queer of color critique. It interrogates black alienation from science fiction and black affinities for the genre through the twin concepts of “the whiteness of science fiction” and “the speculative fiction of blackness.” In contrast to the medium-specific and insular arguments that abound in Science Fiction Studies in the absence of critical perspectives on race, this book investigates the authorship and interpretation of texts across the media landscape in accordance with a nuanced theory of cultural production that eschews overdetermined associations between race, class, gender, and genre. Its novel orientation to speculative fiction highlights how black authors and audiences participate in the genre through revisionist, disidentificatory strategies while also addressing alternative aesthetic practices, like Afro-futurism and reparative reading, that attest to the fantastic dimensions of black creativity.