The History of the State of Black Science Fiction 11 Year Reunion at DragonCon We Started a Movement Author Alicia McCalla

The History of the State of Black Science Fiction (SOBSF): An Eleven Year Reunion @ DragonCon (We Started a Movement)

In late 2011, Author Alicia McCalla came up with the idea to view the market of Black Speculative Fiction as an economic empowerment movement. Since she was a member of the Black Science Fiction Society, she decided to share the idea in the group and Author Milton Davis joined her. Soon, the two had outlined what would become a grassroots collective of authors, artists, and creators working in science fiction, fantasy, and horror who sought to elevate Black voices in these genres. The primary mission of the State of Black Science Fiction has been to support and develop Black speculative fiction as an economically viable genre. It was always meant to be about economic empowerment, collective work, collaboration and shared responsibility. 

In its early years, SOBSF focused on bringing awareness to Black speculative fiction through community organizing and public programming. In January 2012, they hosted the first "State of Black SF" blog hop, a 7-week event where founding members shared their work and perspectives. This helped connect Black creatives and build an audience for their content. The founding members are listed in Alphabetical Order:
  • Winston Blakely, Artist
  • Gerald Coleman, Writer
  • L.M. Davis, Writer and Screenwriter
  • Milton Davis, Writer
  • Margaret Fieland, Writer
  • Nicole Givens-Kurtz, Writer and Publisher Mocha Memoirs Press
  • Edward Austin Hall, Writer
  • Thaddeus Howze, Writer
  • Valjeanne Jeffers, Writer (now deceased)
  • Alan Jones, Writer
  • Alicia McCalla, Writer
  • Wendy Raven McNair, Writer
  • Carole McDonnell, Writer
  • Ja Ja (DjaDja) N Medjay, Writer
  • Balogun Ojetade, Writer
  • Rasheedah Phillips, Writer
  • Nicole Sconiers, Writer and Screenwriter
  • Jarvis Sheffield, Owner and Operator of Black Science Fiction Society

SOBSF then began holding panels at major conventions like Dragon Con and events to inspire and foster new generations of fans and storytellers. Their growing Facebook group, launched in 2012, now provides over 20,000 members a place to discuss issues, share art and writing, and build crucial relationships across the field.

To further promote the economic potential of Black SciFi, SOBSF published its first anthology "Possibilities" in 2012 under McCalla's editorship. Featuring short stories from their core authors, it demonstrated the breadth and quality of work being created. Mocha Memoirs Press also contributed to the SOBSF movement by publishing many of the several founding authors. 

And finally in 2014, after attending an RWA Conference and meeting Amazon representatives, McCalla submitted an initial request to Amazon to create dedicated categories for Black speculative fiction. After her multiple requests over several months, the Amazon team created three bestseller categories:

Best Sellers in Black & African American Fantasy Fiction
Best Sellers in Black & African American Horror Fiction
Best Sellers in Black & African American Science Fiction

This helped increase the commercial visibility of these works to new readers.

Over the past decade, SOBSF has mobilized the Black speculative fiction community and helped establish it as a thriving genre sector with dedicated audiences and markets. Their efforts in community building, publishing, and public programming have left an indelible impact, as will be celebrated at their upcoming DragonCon reunion panel in 2023.

Join the Eleven-Year DragonCon Reunion Panel on Sunday, September 3, 2023: 

  • Panelists: Milton Davis (M), L.M. Davis, Alicia McCalla, Alan Jones, Edward A. Hall, Balogun Ojetade, Gerald Coleman
  • Time: Sun 05:30 pm-6:30 pm (Length: 1-Hour)
  • Location: Embassy Room AB, Hyatt

If you want a blast from the past, here are the links to the original blog hop and DragonCon 2012 Event:

DragonCon 2012 Event on YouTube 

Day One: What is the State of Black Science Fiction

Day 2: Why I Love Teen Dystopian Sci-Fi?  

Day 3: Why is it important to show race, class, minority politics, or ethnicity in SciFi? 

Day 4: Giveaways and Upcoming Paranormal Romance from Alicia McCalla

Day 5: I heart Onyx Con!

Day 6: My Tribute to SF Icon Octavia Butler

Day 7: The Grand Finale with a New Short Story from Alicia McCalla

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Alicia McCalla photo credit Dr. Howard McCalla

I’m author Alicia McCalla. Sign-up for my newsletter to get updates, learn about my latest projects and purchase my badass, spunky, and smart Black heroines on Merchandise!