Black science fiction books, Afrofuturistic stories, or short stories by Black authors were once unfortunately uncommon, but as of late there have been a lot more fantastic novels to introduce some diversity into this historically homogeneous genre/classification. There’s certainly been more books with wide-spread marketing efforts, which is critical, too.
This list contains 50+ of the best in Black Science Fiction (divided up into Adult and YA titles, with a handful of Children’s / Middle Grade titles added at the end). So many of these titles have been published in just the last couple years, so I am so pumped for what’s to come in the future! I’ll be updating this list as new, great titles are released!
Adult Black Science Fiction
Young Adult Black Science Fiction
Middle Grade & Children’s Black Science Fiction
Is there a fantastic book missing from this list? If so, please drop a comment below!
P.S. Note that for a few of the more prolific authors, I’ve limited their entries to the first of their series or a handful of their books, even though they may have many fantastic books that fall into this category, just to be able to represent more authors here.
Adult Black Science Fiction
What It's About: Five New Yorkers must come together in order to defend their city.
Every city has a soul. Some are as ancient as myths, and others are as new and destructive as children. New York City? She's got five.
But every city also has a dark side. A roiling, ancient evil stirs beneath the earth, threatening to destroy the city and her five protectors unless they can come together and stop it once and for all.Publication Date: March 24, 2020
What It's About: THIS IS THE WAY THE WORLD ENDS FOR THE LAST TIME.
IT STARTS WITH THE GREAT RED RIFT
across the heart of the world's sole continent, spewing ash that blots out the sun.
IT STARTS WITH DEATH,
with a murdered son and a missing daughter.
IT STARTS WITH BETRAYAL
and long dormant wounds rising up to fester...Publication Date: August 4, 2015
What It's About: In these stories, Jemisin sharply examines modern society, infusing magic into the mundane, and drawing deft parallels in the fantasy realms of her imagination. Dragons and hateful spirits haunt the flooded city of New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. In a parallel universe, a utopian society watches our world, trying to learn from our mistakes...Publication Date: November 27, 2018
What It's About: An award-winning literary author presents her first foray into supernatural fantasy with a novel of post-apocalyptic Africa.
In a far future, post-nuclear-holocaust Africa, genocide plagues one region. The aggressors, the Nuru, have decided to follow the Great Book and exterminate the Okeke...Publication Date: June 1, 2010
What It's About: Tade Thompson's Rosewater is the start of an award-winning, cutting edge trilogy set in Nigeria, by one of science fiction's most engaging new voices.
Rosewater is a town on the edge. A community formed around the edges of a mysterious alien biodome, its residents comprise the hopeful, the hungry and the helpless—people eager for a glimpse inside the dome or a taste of its rumored healing powers...Publication Date: February 23, 2017
What It's About: In an "epic, game-changing, moving and brilliant" story of love and hate, two immortals chase each other across continents and centuries, binding their fates together -- and changing the destiny of the human race (Viola Davis). Doro knows no higher authority than himself. An ancient spirit with boundless powers, he possesses humans, killing without remorse as he jumps from body to body to sustain his own life...Publication Date: March 17, 2020
What It's About: When global climate change and economic crises lead to social chaos in the early 2020s, California becomes full of dangers, from pervasive water shortage to masses of vagabonds who will do anything to live to see another day.
Fifteen-year-old Lauren Olamina lives inside a gated community with her preacher father, family, and neighbors, sheltered from the surrounding anarchy...Publication Date: April 30, 2019
What It's About: A perfect introduction for new readers and a must-have for avid fans, this New York Times Notable Book includes "Bloodchild," winner of both the Hugo and the Nebula awards and "Speech Sounds," winner of the Hugo Award.
Appearing in print for the first time, "Amnesty" is a story of a woman named Noah who works to negotiate the tense and co-dependent relationship between humans and a species of invaders...Publication Date: October 4, 2005
What It's About: Lilith Iyapo has just lost her husband and son when atomic fire consumes Earth—the last stage of the planet’s final war. Hundreds of years later Lilith awakes, deep in the hold of a massive alien spacecraft piloted by the Oankali—who arrived just in time to save humanity from extinction. They have kept Lilith and other survivors asleep for centuries, as they learned whatever they could about Earth...Publication Date: April 1, 1997
What It's About: In 1976, Dana dreams of being a writer. In 1815, she is assumed a slave.
When Dana first meets Rufus on a Maryland plantation, he's drowning. She saves his life - and it will happen again and again.
Neither of them understands his power to summon her whenever his life is threatened, nor the significance of the ties that bind them...Publication Date: Not Available
What It's About: "Riot Baby bursts at the seams of story with so much fire, passion and power that in the end it turns what we call a narrative into something different altogether."—Marlon James
Rooted in foundational loss and the hope that can live in anger, Riot Baby is both a global dystopian narrative an intimate family story with quietly devastating things to say about love, fury, and the black American experience...Publication Date: January 21, 2020
What It's About: An extraordinary debut novel, Freshwater explores the surreal experience of having a fractured self. It centers around a young Nigerian woman, Ada, who develops separate selves within her as a result of being born "with one foot on the other side." Unsettling, heartwrenching, dark, and powerful, Freshwater is a sharp evocation of a rare way of experiencing the world, one that illuminates how we all construct our identities...Publication Date: February 13, 2018
What It's About: In the stories of Adjei-Brenyah’s debut, an amusement park lets players enter augmented reality to hunt terrorists or shoot intruders played by minority actors, a school shooting results in both the victim and gunman stuck in a shared purgatory, and an author sells his soul to a many-tongued god.
Adjei-Brenyah's writing will grab you, haunt you, enrage, and invigorate you...Publication Date: October 23, 2018
What It's About: Odd-mannered, obsessive, withdrawn, Aster has little to offer folks in the way of rebuttal when they call her ogre and freak. She's used to the names; she only wishes there was more truth to them. If she were truly a monster, as they accuse, she'd be powerful enough to tear down the walls around her until nothing remained of her world, save for stories told around the cookfire...Publication Date: September 18, 2017
What It's About: The water-breathing descendants of African slave women tossed overboard have built their own underwater society—and must reclaim the memories of their past to shape their future in this brilliantly imaginative novella inspired by the Hugo Award nominated song “The Deep” from Daveed Diggs’ rap group Clipping...Publication Date: November 5, 2019
What It's About: When Jessica marries David, he is everything she wants in a family man: brilliant, attentive, ever youthful. Yet she still feels something about him is just out of reach. Soon, as people close to Jessica begin to meet violent, mysterious deaths, David makes an unimaginable confession: More than 400 years ago, he and other members of an Ethiopian sect traded their humanity so they would never die, a secret he must protect at any cost...Publication Date: June 29, 1997
What It's About: From the American Book Award winner and author of "one of the most talked about debuts in the horror field since the advent of Stephen King" (Publishers Weekly) comes a terrifying story of supernatural suspense, as a woman searches for the inherited power that can save her hometown from evil forces.
Tananarive Due's first three novels gained her legions of dedicated fans who recognize a true master of the genre...Publication Date: September 2, 2003
What It's About: The first book in the Between Earth and Sky trilogy, inspired by the civilizations of the Pre-Columbian Americas and woven into a tale of celestial prophecies, political intrigue, and forbidden magic.
A god will return
When the earth and sky converge
Under the black sun
In the holy city of Tova, the winter solstice is usually a time for celebration and renewal, but this year it coincides with a solar eclipse, a rare celestial event proscribed by the Sun Priest as an unbalancing of the world...Publication Date: October 13, 2020
What It's About: In South Africa, the future looks promising. Personal robots are making life easier for the working class. The government is harnessing renewable energy to provide infrastructure for the poor. And in the bustling coastal town of Port Elizabeth, the economy is booming thanks to the genetic engineering industry which has found a welcome home there...Publication Date: June 13, 2017
What It's About: The Haunting of Tram Car 015 returns to the alternate Cairo of Clark's short fiction, where humans live and work alongside otherworldly beings; the Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments and Supernatural Entities handles the issues that can arise between the magical and the mundane. Senior Agent Hamed al-Nasr shows his new partner Agent Onsi the ropes of investigation when they are called to subdue a dangerous, possessed tram car...Publication Date: February 19, 2019
What It's About: At an astonishingly young age, Edwidge Danticat has become one of our most celebrated new writers. She is an artist who evokes the wonder, terror, and heartache of her native Haiti--and the enduring strength of Haiti's women--with a vibrant imagery and narrative grace that bear witness to her people's suffering and courage...Publication Date: April 1, 1996
What It's About: From the exiled Kenyan novelist, playwright, poet, and literary critic--a magisterial comic novel that is certain to take its place as a landmark of postcolonial African literature.
In exile now for more than twenty years, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o has become one of the most widely read African writers of our time, the power and scope of his work garnering him international attention and praise...Publication Date: August 8, 2006
What It's About: A dazzlingly accomplished debut collection explores the ties that bind parents and children, husbands and wives, lovers and friends to one another and to the places they call home.
In “Who Will Greet You at Home,” a National Magazine Award finalist for The New Yorker, A woman desperate for a child weaves one out of hair, with unsettling results...Publication Date: April 4, 2017
What It's About: Verticality, architectural and social, is at the heart of Colson Whitehead's first novel that takes place in an unnamed high-rise city that combines twenty-first-century engineering feats with nineteenth-century pork-barrel politics. Elevators are the technological expression of the vertical ideal, and Lila Mae Watson, the city's first black female elevator inspector, is its embattled token of upward mobility...Publication Date: June 1, 2023
What It's About: In this wry take on the post-apocalyptic horror novel, a pandemic has devastated the planet. The plague has sorted humanity into two types: the uninfected and the infected, the living and the living dead.
Now the plague is receding, and Americans are busy rebuilding civilization under orders from the provisional government based in Buffalo...Publication Date: October 6, 2011
What It's About: Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. Life is hell for all the slaves, but especially bad for Cora; an outcast even among her fellow Africans, she is coming into womanhood--where even greater pain awaits. When Caesar, a recent arrival from Virginia, tells her about the Underground Railroad, they decide to take a terrifying risk and escape...Publication Date: August 2, 2016
What It's About: An alternative cover edition for this ISBN can be found here and here.
Young Hiram Walker was born into bondage. When his mother was sold away, Hiram was robbed of all memory of her—but was gifted with a mysterious power. Years later, when Hiram almost drowns in a river, that same power saves his life...See the Full Summary and Review of The Water Dancer Publication Date: September 24, 2019
What It's About: You have never read a novel like this one. Winner of the 1991 Booker Prize for fiction, The Famished Road tells the story of Azaro, a spirit-child. Though spirit-children rarely stay long in the painful world of the living, when Azaro is born he chooses to fight death: "I wanted," he says, "to make happy the bruised face of the woman who would become my mother...Publication Date: May 1, 1993
What It's About: First published in 1952 and immediately hailed as a masterpiece, Invisible Man is one of those rare novels that have changed the shape of American literature. For not only does Ralph Ellison's nightmare journey across the racial divide tell unparalleled truths about the nature of bigotry and its effects on the minds of both victims and perpetrators, it gives us an entirely new model of what a novel can be...Publication Date: April 14, 1952
What It's About: What would happen to the race problem in America if black people turned white? Would everybody be happy? These questions and more are answered hilariously in Black No More, George S. Schuyler's satiric romp.
Black No More is the story of Max Disher, a dapper black rogue of an insurance man who, through a scientific transformation process, becomes Matthew Fisher, a white man...Publication Date: June 29, 1999
What It's About: Before Buffy, before Twilight, before Octavia Butler's Fledgling, there was The Gilda Stories, Jewelle Gomez's sexy vampire novel.
"The Gilda Stories is groundbreaking not just for the wild lives it portrays, but for how it portrays them--communally, unapologetically, roaming fiercely over space and time...Publication Date: April 1, 1991
What It's About: Alternate cover edition can be found here.
Author of the bestselling Dhalgren and winner of four Nebulas and one Hugo, Samuel R. Delany is one of the most acclaimed writers of speculative fiction.
Babel-17, winner of the Nebula Award for best novel of the year, is a fascinating tale of a famous poet bent on deciphering a secret language that is the key to the enemy’s deadly force, a task that requires she travel with a splendidly improbable crew to the site of the next attack...Publication Date: January 8, 2002
What It's About: The rich and privileged have fled the city, barricaded it behind roadblocks, and left it to crumble. The inner city has had to rediscover old ways-farming, barter, herb lore. But now the monied need a harvest of bodies, and so they prey upon the helpless of the streets. With nowhere to turn, a young woman must open herself to ancient truths, eternal powers, and the tragic mystery surrounding her mother and grandmother...Publication Date: July 1, 1998
What It's About: New Suns: Original Speculative Fiction by People of Color showcases emerging and seasoned writers of many races telling stories filled with shocking delights, powerful visions of the familiar made strange. Between this book’s covers burn tales of science fiction, fantasy, horror, and their indefinable overlappings...Publication Date: March 12, 2019
What It's About: Dark matter: the nonluminous matter, not yet detected, that nonetheless has detectable gravitational effects on the universe.
Dark matter: the Afro-American presence and influences unseen or unacknowledged by Euro-American culture.
Dark Matter: the first anthology to illuminate the presence and influence of black writers in speculative fiction, with 25 stories, three novel excerpts, and five essays...Publication Date: July 18, 2000
What It's About: The citizenry of America struggles for survival in a dangerous, twisted future
In “Whispers in the Dark,” an ex-con sells his organs to ensure his brilliant nephew’s future. The boy will grow up to have the highest IQ ever recorded, but the uncle, who sold his eyes, won’t be able to see it...Publication Date: November 12, 2001
What It's About: Whenever we envision a world without war, without prisons, without capitalism, we are producing visionary fiction. Organizers and activists envision, and try to create, such worlds all the time. This book brings twenty of them together in the first anthology of short stories to explore the connections between radical speculative fiction and movements for social change...Publication Date: March 23, 2015
Young Adult Black Science Fiction
What It's About: Jane McKeene was born two days before the dead began to walk the battlefields of Gettysburg and Chancellorsville—derailing the War Between the States and changing America forever. In this new nation, safety for all depends on the work of a few, and laws like the Native and Negro Reeducation Act require certain children attend combat schools to learn to put down the dead...Publication Date: April 3, 2018
What It's About: A girl with no gifts must bargain for the power to fight her own mother’s dark schemes—even if the price is her life.
Heir to two lines of powerful witchdoctors, Arrah yearns for magic of her own. Yet she fails at bone magic, fails to call upon her ancestors, and fails to live up to her family’s legacy...Publication Date: September 3, 2019
What It's About: They killed my mother.
They took our magic.
They tried to bury us.
Now we rise.
Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zélie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls.
But everything changed the night magic disappeared...See the Full Summary and Review of Children of Blood and Bone (Legacy of Orïsha #1) Publication Date: March 6, 2018
What It's About: Sixteen-year-old Deka lives in fear and anticipation of the blood ceremony that will determine whether she will become a member of her village. Already different from everyone else because of her unnatural intuition, Deka prays for red blood so she can finally feel like she belongs.
But on the day of the ceremony, her blood runs gold, the color of impurity--and Deka knows she will face a consequence worse than death...Publication Date: October 8, 2020
What It's About: Tarisai has always longed for the warmth of a family. She was raised in isolation by a mysterious, often absent mother known only as The Lady. The Lady sends her to the capital of the global empire of Aritsar to compete with other children to be chosen as one of the Crown Prince’s Council of 11. If she’s picked, she’ll be joined with the other Council members through the Ray, a bond deeper than blood...Publication Date: August 18, 2020
What It's About: Akata Witch transports the reader to a magical place where nothing is quite as it seems. Born in New York, but living in Aba, Nigeria, twelve-year old Sunny is understandably a little lost. She is albino and thus, incredibly sensitive to the sun. All Sunny wants to do is be able to play football and get through another day of school without being bullied...Publication Date: April 14, 2011
What It's About: Her name is Binti, and she is the first of the Himba people ever to be offered a place at Oomza University, the finest institution of higher learning in the galaxy. But to accept the offer will mean giving up her place in her family to travel between the stars among strangers who do not share her ways or respect her customs...Publication Date: September 22, 2015
What It's About: A Time Magazine Best Fantasy Book of 2018
L. Penelope's Song of Blood & Stone is a treacherous, thrilling, epic fantasy about an outcast drawn into a war between two powerful rulers.
The kingdoms of Elsira and Lagrimar have been separated for centuries by the Mantle, a magical veil that has enforced a tremulous peace between the two lands...Publication Date: January 8, 2015
What It's About: Kiese Laymon’s debut novel is a Twain-esque exploration of celebrity, authorship, violence, religion, and coming of age in Post-Katrina Mississippi, written in a voice that’s alternately funny, lacerating, and wise. The book contains two interwoven stories. In the first, it’s 2013: after an on-stage meltdown during a nationally televised quiz contest, 14-year-old Citoyen "City" Coldson becomes an overnight YouTube celebrity...Publication Date: June 11, 2013
What It's About: For Malik, the Solstasia festival is a chance to escape his war-stricken home and start a new life with his sisters in the prosperous desert city of Ziran. But when a vengeful spirit abducts Malik’s younger sister, Nadia, as payment into the city, Malik strikes a fatal deal—kill Karina, Crown Princess of Ziran, for Nadia’s freedom...Publication Date: June 2, 2020
What It's About: Westworld meets The Handmaid's Tale in this stunning fantasy adventure from debut author Charlotte Nicole Davis.
Aster, the protector
Violet, the favorite
Tansy, the medic
Mallow, the fighter
Clementine, the catalyst
THE GOOD LUCK GIRLS
The country of Arketta calls them Good Luck Girls--they know their luck is anything but...Publication Date: October 1, 2019
What It's About: Two young people are forced to make a stand in this thought-provoking look at racism and prejudice in an alternate society.
Sephy is a Cross -- a member of the dark-skinned ruling class. Callum is a Nought -- a “colourless” member of the underclass who were once slaves to the Crosses. The two have been friends since early childhood, but that’s as far as it can go...Publication Date: January 15, 2001
What It's About: Creeper, a scrappy young teen, is done living on the streets of New Orleans. Instead, she wants to soar, and her sights are set on securing passage aboard the smuggler airship Midnight Robber. Her ticket: earning Captain Ann-Marie’s trust using a secret about a kidnapped Haitian scientist and a mysterious weapon he calls The Black God’s Drums...Publication Date: August 21, 2018
What It's About: A thought-provoking and haunting novel about a creature that escapes from an artist's canvas, whose talent is sniffing out monsters in a world that claims they don't exist anymore. Perfect for fans of Akata Witch and Shadowshaper .
There are no monsters anymore, or so the children in the city of Lucille are taught...Publication Date: September 10, 2019
What It's About: 'We are different ages, genders and traditions ... but tonight we all SLAY' Black Panther meets Ready Player One. A fierce teen game developer battles a real-life troll intent on ruining the Black Panther-inspired video game she created and the safe community it represents for black gamers. By day, seventeen-year-old Kiera Johnson is a college student, and one of the only black kids at Jefferson Academy...Publication Date: September 24, 2019
What It's About: Tavia is already at odds with the world, forced to keep her siren identity under wraps in a society that wants to keep her kind under lock and key. Nevermind she's also stuck in Portland, Oregon, a city with only a handful of black folk and even fewer of those with magical powers. At least she has her bestie Effie by her side as they tackle high school drama, family secrets, and unrequited crushes...Publication Date: June 2, 2020
What It's About: The year is 2172. Climate change and nuclear disasters have rendered much of earth unlivable. Only the lucky ones have escaped to space colonies in the sky.
In a war-torn Nigeria, battles are fought using flying, deadly mechs and soldiers are outfitted with bionic limbs and artificial organs meant to protect them from the harsh, radiation-heavy climate...Publication Date: October 15, 2019
What It's About: A novel about a Black teen who has the power to see into the future, whose life turns upside down when he foresees his younger brother’s imminent death.
Sixteen-year-old Alex Rufus is trying his best. He tries to be the best employee he can be at the local ice cream shop; the best boyfriend he can be to his amazing girlfriend, Talia; the best protector he can be over his little brother, Isaiah...Publication Date: April 6, 2021
What It's About: “Make a way out of no way” is just the way of life for Rue. But when her mother is shot dead on her doorstep, life for her and her younger sister changes forever. Rue's taken from her neighborhood by the father she never knew, forced to leave her little sister behind, and whisked away to Ghizon—a hidden island of magic wielders...Publication Date: January 26, 2021
What It's About: Divided by their order. United by their vengeance.
Iraya has spent her life in a cell, but every day brings her closer to freedom - and vengeance.
Jazmyne is the Queen’s daughter, but unlike her sister before her, she has no intention of dying to strengthen her mother’s power...Publication Date: April 20, 2021
What It's About: This is what they deserve. They wanted me to be a monster.
I will be the worst monster they ever created.
Fifteen-year-old Sloane can incinerate an enemy at will—she is a Scion, a descendant of the ancient Orisha gods.
Under the Lucis’ brutal rule, her identity means her death if her powers are discovered...Publication Date: March 8, 2022
Middle Grade & Children’s Black Science Fiction
What It's About: The night her parents disappear, twelve-year-old Robyn Loxley must learn to fend for herself. Her home, Nott City, has been taken over by a harsh governor, Ignomus Crown. After fleeing for her life, Robyn has no choice but to join a band of strangers-misfit kids, each with their own special talent for mischief...Publication Date: August 4, 2015
What It's About: Seventh-grader Tristan Strong feels anything but strong ever since he failed to save his best friend when they were in a bus accident together. All he has left of Eddie is the journal his friend wrote stories in. Tristan is dreading the month he’s going to spend on his grandparents’ farm in Alabama, where he’s being sent to heal from the tragedy...Publication Date: October 15, 2019
What It's About: "A poignant, necessary entry into the children's literary canon, Root Magic brings to life the history and culture of Gullah people while highlighting the timeless plight of Black Americans. Add in a fun, magical adventure and you get everything I want in a book!"--Justina Ireland, New York Times bestselling author of Dread Nation
Debut author Eden Royce arrives with a wondrous story of love, bravery, friendship, and family, filled to the brim with magic great and small...Publication Date: January 5, 2021
What It's About: In the northern Ooni Kingdom, fear of the unknown runs deep, and children born dada are rumored to have special powers. Thirteen-year-old Zahrah Tsami feels like a normal girl -- she grows her own flora computer, has mirrors sewn onto her clothes, and stays clear of the Forbidden Greeny Jungle. But unlike other kids in the village of Kirki, Zahrah was born with the telling dadalocks...Publication Date: September 26, 2005
What It's About: Mosley deftly weaves historical and speculative fiction into a powerful narrative about the nature of freedom.
A gripping Young Adult fiction debut by bestselling author Walter Mosley.
Walter Mosley is one of the best known writers in America. In his first book for young adults, Mosley deftly weaves historical and speculative fiction into a powerful narrative about the nature of freedom...Publication Date: November 1, 2006
(By the way, this image is from the Subterranean Press’s limited edition version of How Long Until Black Future Month by N.K. Jemison)
Thanks for this amazing list. I believe Jewelle Gomez’ s the Gilda Stories should definitely be on this list
oh awesome thank you for that suggestion!
great list, thank you! i would add nnedi okorafor‘s “lagoon” and “the prey of gods” by nicky drayden
Such a GREAT list! Thanks for sharing books for all age groups!
thank you! :)
I wanted to also suggest Remembrance by Rita Woods. Intense and beautifully written. Powerful story.
Legendborn and Bloodmarked by Tracey Deonn