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Afrofuturism: The World of Black Sci-Fi and Fantasy Culture (2013)
by Ytasha L. Womack
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There is a LOT of good stuff here, but whew, the book needed a vigorous editor and even fact checker. I grew restless during Womack's discussion of "African cultural astronomy" (she starts throwing this term around a lot without ever precisely defining it) and then had to put the book down when she attributed the destruction of the Library of Alexandria to Napoleon. It's a shame, because there is tough, searching material in this book, and the topic is important. ( )
OMG I've only just read the introduction and the first couple paragraphs of the first chapter but I'm already in lurv!
This was a great book. I'd been a fan of Nnedi Okorafor, Octavia Butler, George Clinton/Parliament, and Sun Ra for some time now, and have been meaning to check out a few other authors in the Afrofuturism and Afrosurrealism vein, but I never really made a connection insofar as a movement or genre. Ytasha Womack is engaging and balances well her personal experiences with an expository look into the movers and shakers of the AF scene. I now have a laundry list of artists, films, and filmmakers to check out. I especially loved the final chapters where Womack connects AF to community outreach, which is something I would LOVE to get involved in.
The only drawbacks to this book:
(1) (echoing another reviewer here) This book would have done well to include a recommended bibliography/discography, etc. As it stands now, just be prepared to take notes! You're going to want to explore.
(2) There were just a couple cringe-worthy incorrect historical notes (one I couldn't get over was that Napoleon had destroyed the library in Alexandria--I believe part of it caught fire with Julius Caesar's Civil War and was later subject to continued destruction by regional bigwigs).
(3) I tired a little with some of the digressions that were along the lines of "so these people aren't exactly AFs, but they did this one thing that could be included in the genre." This wasn't bad by any means, and it generally just illustrated Womack's point that African Americans have a rightful stake in the Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Surrealist communities, but it did strike me as a little bit of a stretch.
Regardless of these minor setbacks, this is such a terrific primer. I hope lots of people read it and are inspired to look more into the AF genre. I know I'll be thinking and talking about it for a long time.
An excellent primer to Afrofuturism. It's accessible and prompts the reader to dig in deeper to the artists referenced.
Important (really surprising lack of work on Afrofuturism as a movement), enthusiastic, knowledgable, approachable. Yet a bit scattered and wandering in its organization with uneven referencing (could use a 'further reading' section as well). A useful introduction - would be great reorganized as a shortish jargon-free annotated encyclopedia with an introductory essay or so. (I also enjoyed the John Jennings artwork)
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Wikipedia in English (4)
Comprising elements of the avant-garde, science fiction, cutting-edge hip-hop, black comix, and graphic novels, Afrofuturism spans both underground and mainstream pop culture. With a twofold aim to entertain and enlighten, Afrofuturists strive to break down racial, ethnic, and all social limitations to empower and free individuals to be themselves. This book introduces readers to the burgeoning artists creating Afrofuturist works, the history of innovators in the past, and the wide range of subjects they explore. From the sci-fi literature of Samuel Delany, Octavia Butler, and NK Jemisin to the musical cosmos of Sun Ra, George Clinton, and the Black Eyed Peas' will.i.am, to the visual and multimedia artists inspired by African Dogon myths and Egyptian deities, topics range from the "alien" experience of blacks in America to the "wake up" cry that peppers sci-fi literature, sermons, and activism. Interviews with rappers, composers, musicians, singers, authors, comic illustrators, painters, and DJs, as well as Afrofuturist professors, provide a firsthand look at this fascinating movement.
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Melvil Decimal System (DDC)809.3 — Literature By Topic History, description and criticism of more than two literatures Fiction
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