20 legendary Black science-fiction authors you need to know

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Andrea Hairston

Andrea Hairston started making waves in the world of modern science fiction in the early 2000s, with the 2004 publication of her short story Griots of the Galaxy, along with Excerpt from Mindscape. Those were published in collections edited in part by sci-fi notables Nalo Hopkinson and Sheree R. Thomas, respectively.

Her first novel, Mindscape, debuted in 2006. It features an alien-created barrier, which has divided Earth into a series of war zones. This isn’t anything new by the time of the story, which takes place over a century after the installation of the Barrier.

Celestina, one of the central characters of Mindscape, is the architect of a treaty that might actually bring peace to the decades-long series of wars. That’s great, but of course, a series of politicians, religious figures, and criminals want to thwart the treaty in order to maintain their grasp on a share of the power. Eventually, Celestina meets a rough fate, leaving her protege Eleni to pick up the pieces.

Her second novel, Redwood and Wildfire, follows the travels of two people as they make their way from Georgia to Chicago at the turn of the 20th century. It won the 2011 James Tiptree, Jr. Award, which recognizes works of science fiction that expand understandings of gender. It was named after author James Tiptree, Jr., which was actually the pen name for writer Alice Sheldon.

Hairston hasn’t restricted herself to novel writing. She is also an acclaimed playwright, having created a number of sci-fi works to be performed on stage. These include Dispatches, Hummingbird Flying Backward, and Archangels of Funk.