20 legendary Black science-fiction authors you need to know

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Karen Lord

If dystopias are getting you down – and who wouldn’t be at least a little depressed by sad visions of the future? – try checking out the work of Karen Lord. Don’t think that the positive bend to her work makes Lord a literary lightweight, though. She’s a science fiction writer to be reckoned with.

Lord, who was born and raised in Barbados, traveled to Canada and the United Kingdom for college, and published her first novel in 2010. That would be Redemption in Indigo, which follows Paama, initially a frustrated wife. She’s got plenty of reason to be at odds with the world, given that her husband is a ne’er-do-well who ruins crops and kills livestock that’s not his own.

Paama finally leaves him, an act that gives her more freedom but also attracts the attention of the djombi, or undying ones. A djombi takes a liking to her, giving Paama a “chaos stick” that gives her a lot more power than she’s used to having. Another djombi, jealous of the windfall handed to Paama, pursues her.

For a more overtly sci-fi novel with the same hopeful tone, check out The Best of All Possible Worlds. A reserved and, frankly, stuck-up race of alien people called the Sadiri experience tragedy when their world is devastated by a surprise attack. To survive and find a new home, they must become more friendly with their distant relations throughout the galaxy. Making matters worse is the fact that more Sadiri women than men perished, leaving a lot of single men behind.

This eventually means the Sadiri people have to become more, shall we say, “friendly.” They start organizing matchmaking missions in order to continue their own species, which is understandable. Yet, it also makes for some awkward situations between Grace, a colony representative on Cygnus Beta, and Dllenahkh, a Sadiri man who works with her to head one of these expeditions.