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

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  504 ratings  ·  78 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,
Kindle Edition, 224 pages
Published October 1st 2013 by Chicago Review Press (first published January 1st 2013)
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4.04  · 
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 ·  504 ratings  ·  78 reviews

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Sep 14, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Jun 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, my-library
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'
Nov 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
This was a super accessible & imaginative look into Afrofuturist themes, folks, & works.
Jun 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
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!
Leslie Reese
Nov 12, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: afro-futurism
3.5 stars
Nov 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Sep 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Aug 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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
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.
Sep 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Dec 31, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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...
Margaret Robbins
This book truly was fascinating, and it was one of the best nonfiction books I've read in a while. Womack does an excellent job explaining Afrofuturism to the reader in a way that is accessible and easy to follow. I liked the book so much that I ordered her fiction novel Rayla 2212, along with the first Akata Witch series book by Nnedi Okorafor.
I've done research and writing about empowered and diverse female protagonists in speculative fiction, and I completely agree with the book's ideas on h
Dan Plonsey
Jul 01, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jay Michelle Williams
One of my favorite authors is Octavia E. Butler; she has contributed to the sci-fi community significantly and has opened up many opportunities for people of color to be inspired to create. While growing up, I wanted to have super-human abilities, but I was well aware of Eurocentric images overwhelming the media. I needed something more, I needed to feel welcomed on this plane of life, and this book was able to feed my desires.

I admire Ytasha Womack, not only because she is a Chicago native, bu
C Miller
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Womack introduced me to artists, poets, authors, activists I never knew about. I found myself googling names and works every other page if not more. In this book, she describes in short chapters various ways that Afrofuturism (and also Afro-surrealism, which is different) are manifesting all around us. Providing a place and space for people to explore, question, oppose, support, innovate, reinvigorate, our view of race, gender, community, politics, activism, Afric ...more
Sep 08, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A wonderful primer for afrofuturism, just giving the reader a taste of this awesome world, each chapter tackling a different dimension to the genre. The only reason I didn’t give it 5 stars is because it was lacking sound political-class analysis. It mentioned some sociopolitical aspects of the genre but didn’t go as deep as it could have, and also frequently relied on praise of Obama. From a 2013 context it makes sense, but I would love to see more revolutionary and anti-capitalist discussions ...more
Sék Di
A wonderful first look into Afrofuturism. What it means, it's history, how it can and should evolve. I found it incredibly enlightening because I saw that lots of other black people across the diaspora echoed my very thoughts. I also started this book because I hoped it might help me write my own novel that I now realize is an afrofuturist novel not "just" an urban sci-fi novel. I would say I definitely found some inspiration :)
Covers so many topics that it sometimes comes across as scattered, with multiple names repeated as if we hadn't just seen them cited in a previous chapter. A fascinating overview, though, and full of excitement over possibilities. I'd love to see an updated version with more discussion of N.K. Jemisin's work (especially now that she's won three Hugos!) and looking at both "Black Panther" and "Get Out". Not to mention Janelle Monae's latest...
Nick Clawson
This book is a good introduction to afrofuturism as an art form, but I found myself wanting to dive into theories and analyses that Womack only briefly touches on. I did find it to be a useful source of authors, musicians, and artists to look up after I was done, but at times the chapters became inundated with these examples, and I found myself skimming until I found the next topic of discussion.
Mar 19, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A pretty good primer to the genre/style that's exploded since it's potentially appropriated with Black Panther.

Basically, it's science fiction with an emphasis on African culture in a futuristic setting. This book covers some of the pioneers of the genre with Samuel Delaney, Octavia Butler, NK Jemisin, and Nnedi Okorafor. Often with a little bit of an influence from Dogon and Egyptian mythology.

I thought this would have been more analytic than it was. The book was good because of the history and connections it makes across multiple genres and individuals' contributions to Afrofuturism, but I had hoped for more of a critical analysis of some of the artists' work she discussed. That wasn't her aim, obviously, so the 3 stars is more my disappointment than a reflection that the book wasn't good.
Samaa Ahmed
Jun 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Oh my God, I don't even know how to describe how wonderful this book is. It is a really thorough historical and contemporary exploration into Afrofuturism and its related movements. It tracks, in detail, the art, technology, and music related to Afrofuturism, and the politics that created and have been shaped by the movement. It's just so good!
Alexander Pyles
Jan 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is your number one source for Afrofuturism. Womack has created a literal repository and history of this cultural movement and pulled apart some of it's core themes and motives. This is a book I will be going back to year after year to soak up some of the forward thinking that just about anyone can benefit from.

Truely, "Space is the place."
Jul 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
An amazing read that really makes you think about how to write the future before it happens. It also looks at how sci fi isn’t just about something that may or may not happen, but it’s about using the imagination to creat a future that can happen.

Highly recommend this book and I can see myself re reading it later.
Owen Duckworth
Jul 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing

Great to have a book that pieces together different pieces of the art, social justice, literature, and musical worlds into a cohesive, while still evolving scope of Afrofuturism.
Great start to give you lots more things to read, but not super well-detailed and a bit repetitive. Make a list of other things to read, listen to, and consume based on the content and you'd be set!
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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
“It’s one thing when black people aren’t discussed in world history. Fortunately, teams of dedicated historians and culture advocates have chipped away at the propaganda often functioning as history for the world’s students to eradicate that glaring error. But when, even in the imaginary future—a space where the mind can stretch beyond the Milky Way to envision routine space travel, cuddly space animals, talking apes, and time machines—people can’t fathom a person of non-Euro descent a hundred years into the future, a cosmic foot has to be put down.” 2 likes
“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.” 1 likes
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