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Afrofuturism: The World of Black Sci-Fi and Fantasy Culture

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  679 ratings  ·  119 reviews
2014 Locus Awards Finalist, Nonfiction Category

In this hip, accessible primer to the music, literature, and art of Afrofuturism, author Ytasha Womack introduces readers to the burgeoning community of artists creating Afrofuturist works, the innovators from the past, and the wide range of subjects they explore. From the sci-fi literature of Samuel Delany, Octavia Butler, an
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Paperback, 213 pages
Published October 1st 2013 by Lawrence Hill Books (first published January 1st 2013)
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Elle (ellexamines)
Overall, a solid introduction to the history of Afrofuturism, the themes that often appear in Afrofuturistic texts, and its future.

Womack argues that Afrofuturism uses hope to counter the hopelessness that experiences of systematic racism can bring forth in future generations.
Imagination, hope, and the expectation for transformative change is a through line that undergirds most Afrofuturistic art, literature, music, and criticism. It is the collective weighted belief that anchors the a
...more
Sarah
Sep 14, 2015 rated it liked it
I wanted to love this book, I truly did, but I couldn't help but find it disappointing.

I first heard about Afrofuturism a few years ago when I discovered Octavia Butler, and then again few months ago while browsing Tumblr, and as an ardent fan of science fiction/fantasy culture I was immediately intrigued. Its a fascinating concept, no doubt but I felt the ideas were not fully fleshed out, as the movement is still growing and developing, there wasn't really any concrete answers on what Afrofutur
...more
Lindsay
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 experie
...more
Valerie
Jun 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: my-library, favorites
Mae Jemison, the first African-American to go into space, was inspired to become an astronaut by seeing Lt. Nyota Uhura, one of the first Black, Sci-Fi characters, kick ass in Star Trek.

Possibly the best Non-Fiction work I have ever read. I discovered so many new things from amazing music, to films and books that I definitely need to watch/ read in the near future.

Afrofuturism is difficult to explain or define. It aims to imagine a future where Black people are central figures in society. It'
...more
KLC
Feb 09, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy-sci-fi
This is an interesting subject matter, but I didn't love the book. It's a decent resource, but I was hoping for something more in-depth. This is a slightly more thoughtful version of Wikipedia. However, that's not a bad thing if you're just looking for an introduction into some influential Afrofuturist artists.

Even though I didn't like the book, I would encourage people to read it. Womack's whole intention was to let black Americans know that there is a place for them to be smart and creative. S
...more
Sachi Argabright
Jan 19, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
[ 4.5/5 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫]

AFROFUTURISM: THE WORLD OF BLACK SCI-FI AND FANTASY CULTURE by Ytasha L. Womack defines and celebrates the many facets of Afrofuturism. By refocusing the lens on black people and the black experience, Afrofuturism can reimagine black history as well as the vast possibilities in black future. This book explores various formats of Afrofuturistic media (mainly movies, music, literature), and the creators and artists behind them.

When I first heard this was technically a textbook, I
...more
Michael
Mar 25, 2014 rated it liked it
Interesting and wide ranging, but scattered, overview of African-derived futurist and science fiction works in film, music, literature, visual arts, and comics. Very thoughtful but would have benefited from some greater theoretical structure and a careful editor!
Jessica
Nov 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This was absolutely amazing, honestly everyone should read this book. It combines history, art, music, literature, everything to dissect one of the most important art movements of our time. More people need to know about afrofuturism!
Regina Leslie
Apr 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This was a super accessible & imaginative look into Afrofuturist themes, folks, & works. ...more
Paolo
Jun 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A terrific look into and introductory text for Afrofuturism, or speculative and science fiction as created in all of its forms by African-Americans, and one that is sorely needed in a genre and culture so heavily entrenched in its straight-white-maleness. On a personal note, the section discussing afrofuturistic music basically had me shaking in excitement and agreement, making me feel that all those hours studying ethnomusicology were not in vain.
erika
Dec 31, 2015 rated it really liked it
Great overview, but I wish it had gone a bit more in-depth, plus some parts felt repetitive and maybe in need of an editor. That said, I now have a ton more music and books to dive into, so...
Megan
Sep 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book rocked my world. I wrote all over my copy in a fevered frenzy to capture every morsel. It's safe to say that Afrofuturism is my aesthetic.
Leslie Reese
Nov 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: afro-futurism
3.5 stars
Ben Truong
Afrofuturism: The World of Black Sci-Fi and Fantasy Culture is an anthology of a dozen personal essays written by Ytasha L. Womack. It is a collection of essays about defining the term: Afrofuturism.

For the most part, I really like most – if not all of these contributions. Afrofuturism: The World of Black Sci-Fi and Fantasy Culture contain a dozen personal essays, which are written and researched exceptionally well. Womack explains that Afrofuturistic work is not confined within certain genres,
...more
Fee Scott-Bolden
Jul 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: afro-futurism
I absolutely enjoyed this book and it peaked my interest in the subject. The author provides a wealth of resources and artists/activists/ scholars who are actively working in the genre.

Afrofuturism is a great tool for wielding the imagination for personal change and societal growth. Empowering people to see
themselves and their ideas in the future gives rise to innovators and free thinkers, all of whom can pull from the best of the past
while navigating the sea of possibilities to create communit
...more
Julia
Mar 11, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I think my own expectations of what this book were set me up to not enjoy it as much. This is an interesting topic, but the way it was presented could be a little confusing. It felt unorganized at times, with people discussed before they were explained and quotes from people just plopped into the chapter even if they weren't the most relevant. You definitely need some base information about Afrofuturism before going into this book to get the most out of it.
Amy
Nov 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
An introduction to Afrofuturism - a movement which is still being shaped, but can be a way for black people in particular to envision another future, or tap into some supernatural stuff from the past. Womack talks about touchstone artists (Sun Ra, George Clinton, Octavia Butler, etc), but also people studying the intersection between technology and people of color. A quick and informative read.
Celine
Aug 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was really, really good. I learned a lot about Afrofuturism and its origins and it gave me so many pointers for more stuff to read. I wish I had the time asdfghjk
Reginas..Haunted..Library
This is a good introduction to an exciting art movement. It definitely made me want to explore more.
Amy
Nov 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
All kinds of interesting tidbits of history and ideas woven together in this easy to read cultural/sociological sci/fi & African American collection that gives a massive overview of what we can understand is Afrofuturism. ...more
Jessica Haider
Feb 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
A good introduction to the history of Afrofuturism in everything from music to art to movies and literature. We hear mention of George Clinton, Bootsy Collins, Janelle Monae, Octavia Butler, Nnedi Okorafor, Sun Ra and more. The book mentioned many books, movies and musical artists that I want to follow-up with.
Dan
Dec 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
The best primer for thinking and writing about Afrofuturism, full of inspiring quotations and great material from a wide variety of media.
Mary Brickthrower
Jul 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A fantastic overview of Afrofuturism in all media.
Ayoola
Sep 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is an excellent survey of afrofuturist thought, history, philosophies, and manifestations. As someone whose understanding of afrofuturism isn't so deep yet, this was a solid introduction that gave me ideas of resources to look into next.
Dan Plonsey
Jul 01, 2018 rated it did not like it
This is a terrible book -- for me, at least, because it's about a subject which is very dear to me. Without the life and music of Sun Ra, I don't know where I would have gone off to. This book, however, has nothing to give but useless gushing, generalizations, and descriptions which seem curiously second-hand. For instance, about Sun Ra: "he was a total original." "He explored with healing tones, new sounds, and pushed jazz beyond its bebop dimensions." That is, it reads like an extended essay b ...more
Inda
Aug 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I've had this book on my shelf for about a year and finally got around to reading it. This is not only a great primer on afrofuturism but also affirming for anyone who had trouble putting a name on their afrofuturist leanings. I love that it gets in that space between academia, or rather scholarship, and personal experience that academia tries to stay away from much to its detriment. We learn about the music, the books and the philosophies as well as real-life applications of scifi for Black peo ...more
Nick Carraway LLC
Jul 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
1) "Afrofuturism is an intersection of imagination, technology, the future, and liberation. 'I generally define Afrofuturism as a way of imagining possible futures through a black cultural lens,' says Ingrid LaFleur, an art curator and Afrofuturist. LaFleur presented for the independently organized TEDx Fort Greene Salon in Brooklyn, New York. 'I see Afrofuturism as a way to encourage experimentation, reimagine identities, and activate liberation,' she said.
Whether through literature, visual art
...more
Jenni
Definitely more of an academic primer than what I was expecting, but gave me a ton of guidance for art, music and literature to look for.
Mike
May 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
My interest in Afrofuturism began with the discovery of it as a sub-genre of sci-fi, but my explorations into it revealed so much more. Womack's book examines Afrofuturism as a cultural movement, of which the sci-fi subgenre is a major part, but explores it origins, the breadth and depth of the movement, it's impact on culture as a whole and its hopes for the future. A caveat, it was written during the peak of the Obama administration and the impact of the first African-American president in the ...more
Colin Cox
Jan 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Afrofuturism: The World of Black Sci-Fi and Fantasy Culture is a lively and approachable primer. Womack defines Afrofuturism as "an intersection of imagination, technology, the future, and liberation...Afrofuturists redefine culture and notions of blackness for today and the future...In some cases, it's a total re-envisioning of the past and speculation about the future rife with cultural critiques" (9). According to Womack, Afrofuturism allows black writers, artists, musicians, and performers t ...more
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Ytasha L. Womack is an award-winning filmmaker/author/journalist and choreographer. She is author/creator of the popfuturist/afrofuturist novel 2212:Book of Rayla, first of the groundbreaking Rayla 2212 series. Her other books include the critically acclaimed Post Black: How a New Generation is Redefining African American Identity, a popular cultural studies text universities across the US, and he ...more

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