20 legendary Black science-fiction authors you need to know

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Tade Thompson

While there’s plenty to write about in diasporic literature that concerns the movement of people from Africa, there is also a significant group of African authors who are writing within the sci-fi genre. And it’s not as if the many different kinds of African cultures and writers aren’t friendly to science fiction.

Take Tade Thompson, for instance. He was born in London, but then moved back to Nigeria with his family while still young. He began practicing psychiatry there, began writing, then eventually moved back to the United Kingdom.

If it’s not clear enough already, there’s no reason that a completely different career precludes being an awesome writer. There’s Rosewater, Thompson’s novel published in 2016. It takes place in 2066, after aliens have made contact. They haven’t bothered to actually speak with anyone, though it’s not as if they’re completely closed off. The mysterious visitors have instead released a fungal spore into the atmosphere, creating a “xenosphere” that allows for telepathic communication. Not everyone can tune into to the mental channel, but a few humans are able to make contact in this way.

The aliens have also created domed cities, including one in the Nigerian countryside. That has allowed for the rise of human cities that ring the domes; the one in Nigeria is the titular Rosewater. Once a year, an entrance appears in the domed city, healing the sick and occasionally leaving them in strange, altered states.

The combination of the strange, closed-off visitors and the human “sensitives” who might be able to communicate makes for a fascinating work of African science fiction that includes notes from a vast array of subgenres.