The first time many of us first heard the term “Afrofuturism” was most likely in the 2018 movie Black PantherBlack Panther, a Marvel superhero movie, features the fictional African country of Wakanda, which is technologically superior to the rest of the world due to large deposits of the rare ore vibranium. The mix of futuristic technology and African design led to Black Panther being widely successful and influential, opening up viewers to new aesthetics and ideas. So what is Afrofuturism? It is genre fiction that explores the intersection of the African diaspora and technology or science fiction elements. Ready to dive deeper into Afrofuturism? Here are my five recommendations!

The City We Became by N. K. Jemisin

Every great city has a soul. Some are ancient as myths, and others are as new and destructive as children. New York? She’s got six. When a young man crosses the bridge into New York City, something changes. He doesn’t remember who he is, where he’s from, or even his own name. But he can feel the city’s pulse, can see its history and can access its magic. And he’s not the only one. All across the boroughs, strange things are happening. Something is threatening to destroy the city and her six newborn avatars unless they can come together and stop it once and for all.

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Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James

Tracker is known far and wide for his skills as a hunter: ‘He has a nose,’ people say. Engaged in tracking down a mysterious boy who disappeared three years earlier, Tracker breaks his own rule of always working alone when he finds himself part of a group that comes together to search for the boy. The band is a hodgepodge full of unusual characters with secrets of their own, including a shape-shifting man-animal known as Leopard. As Tracker follows the boy’s scent—from one ancient city to another; into dense forests and across deep rivers—he and the band are set upon by creatures intent on destroying them.

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Binti: The Complete Trilogy by Nnedi Okorafor

A young Himba girl, Binti, has the chance of a lifetime: to attend the prestigious Oomza University. Despite her family’s concerns, Binti’s talent for mathematics and her aptitude for astrolabes make her a prime candidate to undertake this interstellar journey. But everything changes with the jellyfish-like Medusae attack Binti’s spaceship, leaving her the only survivor. Now, Binti must fend for herself, alone on a ship full of the beings who murdered her crew, with five days until she reaches her destination.

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The Intuitionist by Colson Whitehead

In an unnamed city, elevators (or “vertical transport”) have enormous political and economic clout. The City’s Department of Elevator Inspectors is collapsing into a corrupt power-struggle between “Empiricist” inspectors, who perform mechanical testing to establish an elevator’s safety, and the new breed of “Intuitionist” inspectors, who intuitively feel the safety of an elevator. The novel follows an Intuitionist inspector, Lila Mae Watson—the first “colored” woman employed by the Department—as she is drawn into this power struggle.

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Kindred by Octavia Butler

Home is a new house with a loving husband in 1970s California that is suddenly transformed into the frightening world of the antebellum South. Dana, a young black writer, can’t explain how she is transported across time and space to a plantation in Maryland. But she does quickly understand why: to deal with the troubles of Rufus, a conflicted white slaveholder – and her progenitor. Her survival, her very existence, depends on it.

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