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Dark Matter: A Century of Speculative Fiction from the African Diaspora

4.17  ·  Rating details ·  1,176 ratings  ·  103 reviews
This volume introduces black science fiction, fantasy, and speculative fiction writers to the generations of readers who have not had the chance to explore the scope and diversity among African-American writers.


Fiction.
Sister Lilith - Honoree Fanonne Jeffers
The Comet - W.E.B. Du Bois
Chicage 1927 - Jewelle Gomez
Black No More (novel excerpt) - George S. Schuyler
separation
...more
Paperback, 427 pages
Published July 1st 2001 by Aspect (first published 2000)
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Mir
Jan 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-stories
Sister Lilith/Honoree Fanonne Jeffers -- Didn't love the story, but opening with something set in the time of Genesis (Bible, not band) felt appropriate.

The comet/W.E.B. Du Bois -- Great writing. Du Bois convincingly and succinctly conveys the feelings of the protagonist under a series of abrupt, shocking changes.

Black No More/George Schuyler -- Hard to assess, as it is an early-on excerpt from a novel and I don't know where it goes. Certainly seems like a good historical document regarding rac
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Christy
This anthology is a useful collection and contains some wonderful fiction. However, its subtitle, "A Century of Speculative Fiction from the African Diaspora," led me to expect a collection of texts that really does attempt to represent the last century. Instead, only one third of the book is constituted by stories that were published prior to the year 2000 (ranging chronologically from 1887 to 1999). This places the emphasis of the book less on revealing how much black SF has been written in th ...more
Michael
dark' mat''er - n: a nonluminous form of matter which has not been directly observed but whose existence has been deduced by its gravitational effects.

The above citation from NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab glossary is referenced in the Introduction of this captivating anthology, to great effect. Indeed, the contributions of black writers to the field of speculative fiction has often been overlooked, even dismissed, whereas this collection is a testament to their presence, their influence, and to thei
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Matthew Gatheringwater
"Why don't they make white robots?" is the question posed by the lyrical and tragic story The Pretended by Darryl A. Smith, one of the best stories collected in Dark Matter. It works on all levels: black themes, black author, using a future setting to say something related to the present, etc. I love this story. Unfortunately, not all the other stories are equally at home in the collection.

Some, like Gimmile's Songs by Charles R. Saunders are good science fiction of their type, but use African
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Tyler J Gray
29 fictional stories and 5 essays. I mostly enjoyed them. There were a few I couldn't understand but that's because they were heavy on AAVE and i'm white. But I truly did enjoy most of the stories and loved several of them! I'm glad I read it. ...more
Cameron
Apr 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
I'm awfully lated to this party - Dark Matter was released in 2000 - but better late than never, right?

Sheree Thomas did a commendable job picking stories and authors for the collection. One of my favorite gems was the opening chapter or two from a book written in the 30s about one of the first patients for a new medical procedure to turn black people into white people. The only really totally missed note for me was the story by Steven Barnes, and I suspect that's because I just don't very much
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Lena
Sep 22, 2020 added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Lena by: Spells, Space & Screams BOM
Shelves: anthology, dnf
I’m not going to finish this, the writing style was not to my taste.
Amanda
Dec 17, 2020 rated it liked it
It's hard to rate such a wide variety of stories, especially encompassing so many different authors and time periods. A handful of these authors are names I know, but most were new to me. These stories fall into a few categories: Standard sci-fi and fantasy world-building tales which ranged from fairly enjoyable to stunning, myth/folktale retellings which were generally well-written but not really to my taste, and some near-future or urban fantasy pieces that tended toward a more experimental st ...more
Merl Fluin
42 SHORT STORIES IN 42 DAYS*

DAY 34: Sister Lilith, by Honorée Fanonne Jeffers
This struck me as banal, but I suspect it contained subtleties that went over my head.

*The rules:
– Read one short story a day, every day for six weeks
– Read no more than one story by the same author within any 14-day period
– Deliberately include authors I wouldn't usually read
– Review each story in one sentence or less

Any fresh reading suggestions/recommendations will be gratefully received 📚
...more
Eli
Mar 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
I've read through the first hundred pages or so of this 400+ volume of short stories, from "Sister Lilith" to "Rhythm Travel". I don't think I'm equipped to speak much to this anthology, except to say I was moved and challenged by the stories in remarkable ways. I look forward to revisiting it in the future. ...more
Lucas
Sep 19, 2008 rated it really liked it
As uneven as you'd expect in an anthology this length, but well worth reading. Has an Octavia Butler story that blew my mind a little. I'm in love with Nalo Hopkinson now too. Gonna read the sequel. ...more
Josiane
Apr 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: scifi
I love this book. The short stories are all engaging. I own this and re-read it from time to time.
Carolyn Nicole
Apr 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
excellent read by some of your favorite authors who you may not have known delve into science fiction. Worth the time.
Kate Raphael
Loved this book. So many great writers. Some I had heard of, others not.
Nannah
I finally got my hands on the first Dark Matter! As far as I can see, there are only two in this series? I hope there continues to be more, because it’s a very interesting series and a great way to be introduced to black writers’ styles and to black writers in general, especially those in the sci-fi/fantasy scene.

Dark Matter is a collection of over thirty fiction and nonfiction works related to science fiction and fantasy, all by african American authors. The creation of these works range from w
...more
Stark King
Apr 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
I find most anthologies of short fiction hit and miss, but the hits in this one were more than enough to compensate for the misses. Some standouts include:

1. Chicago, 1927 - Jewelle Gomez
For fans of the Gilda stories, here's a nice short one, combining Gomez's unique take on vamp lore with a queer eye view of Chicago in the roaring 20s. If you're not familiar with Gomez's other work, this is a great introduction.

2. Like Daughter - Tananarive Due
I can't say much without giving the story away but
...more
Elliann Fairbairn
Mar 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This collection of stories is an incredible slice of the diversity and richness of afrofuturist stories old and new. The essays at the end are wonderful for those of us who like to dive into a bit of analysis of the text, context and autors' intentions. If you're just starting to read afrofutrism or you're trying to explain the genre to a friend, start here. There are so many authors, styles and themes in this that you want to go off and explore them all. ...more
Xev Author
Mar 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Best anthology of the genre that I have encountered so far. There are a few stories that demand more will to read through (due to lake of interest) but that may simply be due to my leaning more toward scifi vs fantasy.

That said, if you're into afrofuturism, I wouldn't discourage anyone from picking up this fantastic read.
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Abiola
Oct 15, 2020 rated it liked it
Read roughly half of the stories, some were interesting but most of them were just okay. Not all of the story are created equal but the themes cover a range of speculative topics. Important to note that most of these short stories were written before the turn of the 21st century.
Christine
Mar 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sf, fantasy
I loved this book. My favorite short stories were Can You Wear My Eyes, Like Daughter, Chicago 1927, and The Comet, and the novel excerpt from Black No More.
Alecia
Oct 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book blew my mind. There are stories in it that I have never forgotten and still think about to this day, particularly Derrick Bell's "The Space Traders". Love it. ...more
Mike Franklin
Jan 19, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: science-fiction
Sister Lilith: Honoree Jeffers P 4 Interesting take on the Genesis Lilith story.

The Comet: W E B Du Bois 4 Classic style sf piece addressing racisim

Chicago 1927: Jewelle Gomez P 2 frankly rather lame and amateur urban fanatsy peice with black oh so nice and good vampire. Overtones of lesbian sexual fantasy that never goes anywhere and contributes nothing to the very weak story.

Black No More: George Schuyler P 4 An interesting satirical piece on social displacement if a black person is suddenly t
...more
Ethan
Jun 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
I figured reading this was a good way for a science fiction nerd to celebrate Black History Month. I've been wanting to read this for a long time, and I'm glad I finally did. This anthology features superstars like Samuel Delany and Octavia Butler as well as other established authors such as Nalo Hopkinson and Stephen Barnes. There are also a few authors not normally known for science fiction like W.E.B. Du Bois and Amiri Baraka. I was also pleased to see a lot of names I wasn't familiar with be ...more
Julie  Capell
A wonderful survey of scifi and fantasy writing by African American authors. Covered an amazing breadth of time, from "The Goophered Grapevine" written in 1887 to several works written in 2000, written in response to a call for stories specifically for this volume. As with any short story collection, I found some entries more compelling than others. Taken together, I had several reactions.

First, most of the stories fell decidedly closer to the fantasy genre than to hard scifi. Only one story to
...more
Chris
Apr 06, 2015 rated it liked it
This was an interesting mix of short stories by very diverse authors. I liked the one about Lilith, Adam's first wife, which started the collection, and the one titled "Can You Wear My Eyes", about a man who voluntarily blinds himself after receiving his wife's eyes as a transplant after she dies. He starts seeing and experiencing things that she did as his wife and as a woman and he can't stand feeling that way. I thought the most thought provoking one was about extraterrestial beings that offe ...more
Heather
Nov 28, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I read about half of the stories and decided to not continue. While there are some interesting ideas in the stories, they are not well presented. The writing is quite confusing most of the time. You feel like you were thrown into the middle of a novel with no context. The stories do cover a variety of topics but I think the stories were chosen by categories vs quality. The only one I enjoyed was Butlers'. I think there are just better representatives in full-length novels instead of this random ...more
Pandemonium
Jun 15, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An important collection that corrects former overviews of Speculative Fiction that completely ignored the extensive and ground-breaking contributions of African American authors. Incredibly, the second book in the series, 'Reading the Bones' is out of print. So wrong, Warner Books. So very wrong. This is how history is lost and writers who should be in 'the canon' get left out. It matters! ...more
Kaesa
It's always difficult for me to review anthologies, and this one feels, actually, more difficult than usual, because usually anthologies are united by a more narrow theme than this one. The book gathers together speculative fiction of I think most of the subgenres I am familiar with, and also ones I would have trouble strictly categorizing. So there wasn't really an overarching Thing I got out of this other than that I really ought to look up some of these authors I hadn't heard of before.

A coup
...more
Bekah
Mar 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
Reviewed on Books Cats Tea

This is a fantastic compilation of speculative and science fiction that offers numerous inspirations from the African diaspora and, especially, black perspective and experience. I picked this book up as part of my reading parameters for Black History Month.

The introduction by Sheree Renée Thomas opens up with a synopsis of Douglas Turner Ward's Day of Absence. A play about a Southern town waking up and discovering their working black population has suddenly vanished. Th
...more
Stacey
Jul 31, 2020 rated it really liked it
I've been exclusively reading books by black authors since George Floyd was murdered May 25th 2020 so I've been looking for a variety of genres and some older, little known works, when I found Dark Matter, a compilation of shorts focused on science fiction, although it isn't the space ship, complicated, weird names for everything type science fiction, I found it to be much more like magical realism or sci fi with a lighter hand, much more readable.

The stories range from the 1800's to 2000 and h
...more
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Sheree Thomas — also credited as Sheree R. Thomas and Sheree Renée Thomas — is an American writer, book editor and publisher.

Thomas is the editor of the Dark Matter anthology (2000), in which are collected works by some of the best African-American writers in the genres of science fiction, horror and fantasy. Among the many notable authors included are Samuel R. Delany, Octavia E. Butler, Charles
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  As dedicated readers already know, some of the best and most innovative stories on the shelves come from the constantly evolving realm of...
12 likes · 2 comments
“He did not really mind that none of the delegates had spoken to him before leaving. But he was crushed by his failure to get them to recognize what he had long known: that without power, a people must use cunning and guile. Or were cunning and guile, based on superior understanding of a situation, themselves power? Certainly, most black people knew and used this art to survive in their everyday contacts with white people. It was only civil rights professionals who confused integrity with foolhardiness. “Faith” 3 likes
“One reason for this absence is that black writers have only recently entered the popular genres in force. Our writers have historically been regarded as a footnote best suited to address the nature of our own chains. So, if black writers wanted to branch out past the realism of racism and race, they were curtailed by their own desire to document the crimes of America. A further deterrent was the white literary establishment’s desire for blacks to write about being black in a white world, a limitation imposed upon a limitation.” 2 likes
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