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Alien Encounters: Panelists Tackle Tough Issues That Impact YA Black Speculative Fiction

October 31, 2011

I was pleased to attend the authors' discussion and book signing at Auburn Avenue Research library. This Alien Encounters topic was "Beyond Twilight and Harry Potter: Speculative Fiction for Young Adults of Color." The dicussion was timely, interesting, and important. I'm sad that I missed the other sessions, I was knee deep in finishing Breaking Free. Sadness. But what I heard at this panel was awesome.

There were two common themes that I heard from the panelists. One was that African-American children need to see themselves as protagonists and main characters in science fiction and fantasy stories. Two that the New York publishing industry is not open to these types of stories.  In fact, the NY publishing industry says that they are looking and interested but in reality it's just talk.  That point resonated with me strongly.

The three authors L.M. Davis, Ronald Agyekum, and Wendy McNair shared wonderful stories.  Davis has a series of shifters, Agyekum about Wicca, and McNair, superheroes. The works were refreshing.

Alien Encounters fueled me.  My mind thought back to an article that I read by Walter Mosely years ago.  I can't remember exactly what he specifically said but it dealt with a new wave of African-American writers starting a Black speculative fiction Genesis. 

I think he's right.  I'm sensing that the gatekeepers will need to adopt a different philosophy when it comes to opening up to readers of color who want  to see themselves in speculative fiction novels starting with teens.  There's plenty of room for werewolves, witches, and superheros of color.

Alien Encounters was a blast. If you've attended another session, how'd it go? If you didn't attend, any thoughts about the subject.  I'd love to hear thoughts on the subject.

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