When I was a child during the Ice Age we had a weekly ritual. When my mother got paid, she would give each of us a dollar. We would walk together through Buena Vista Estates Apartments to the little convenience store down the hill. With our dollar we would buy a bag of potato chips, a candy bar, a ‘soda’ and a comic book. Later, when we moved from the apartments to the suburbs, our ritual transformed to anxiously waiting on the bookmobile which stopped at the corner of Lasalle Drive right in front of our house. My reading taste had changed by then. I barely read comic books now. I spent my time reading history books. Comics continued to influence me because my cousins and one of my good friends were still avid readers. I remember spending hours trapped with them in comic book stores while they read comic after comic before finally buying the one they came to purchase.
Nowhere during that time were we exposed to many black heroes. There was Black Panther, Storm, Luke Cage and Brotherman. That was it. We accepted it, because we were children of the ’60s and had become accustomed to being ignored. Our heroes were our mothers, fathers, aunts and uncles. We worked hard to be like them and sometimes, better than them, as they worked hard for us to be. But there were some things we never imagined. We never imagined ourselves as superheroes.
It wasn’t until I was in college that I realized the possibilities and almost twenty years after that when I realized I could do something about it myself. So I began writing Speculative fiction to create the heroes I missed as a child and to make sure that black children after me wouldn’t have to reach far beyond their experiences to experience what I was deprived of.
Some people question the importance of children reading speculative fiction but to me there is no question that they should. A child should be exposed to all the possibilities. The mind is a muscle and it must be exercised to reach its maximum strength. Speculative fiction teaches a child to imagine, to look beyond the limits and see the possibilities of the present and the future. It the case of Sword and Soul it links a child to history in an entertaining way and introduces them to a history full of accomplishments and pride. I don’t know about you, but I want my children to have the strongest foundation possible, and speculative fiction adds to its strength.
So I look forward to the State of Black Science Fiction Youth Symposium with excitement and enthusiasm. I’m anxious to share my knowledge and I’m excited about hearing the young folks in attendance express their dreams and expand their imagination. I hope y’all come out to see and contribute as well.
Check out my fellow writers and read what speculative fiction has taught them:
Ed Hall – Alabama escapee Ed Hall writes journalism, poetry, and fiction. He serves as host of Eyedrum’s monthly literary forum, Writers Exchange, and as an organizer of Eyedrum’s annual Experimental Writers Asylum (which is part of the Decatur Book Festival). His work has appeared in Newsweek, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Code Z: Black Visual Culture Now, and the Dictionary of Literary Biography. He plans to have his first novel, a sf-pionage story for young adults, come out soon.
L.M. Davis – L. M. Davis, Author–began her love affair with fantasy in the second grade. Her first novel, Interlopers: A Shifters Novel, was released in 2010, and the follow-up Posers: A Shifters Novel will be released this spring. For more information visit her blog http://shiftersseries.wordpress.com/ or her website www.shiftersnovelseries.com.
Alan Jones – Alan Jones, a native Atlantan, former columnist for the Atlanta Tribune and Wall Street Consultant, writes a brand of science fiction suitable for both adults and young adults. His brand of science fiction blends fanciful characters and scenarios with generous doses of philosophy and social commentary. His book, To Wrestle with Darkness, is available on Amazon, at Barnes & Noble and most major retailers. Visit Alan at http://wrestlewithdarkness.ning.com/profile/Alan.
Alicia McCalla – Alicia McCalla is a native of Detroit, Michigan who currently resides in Metro Atlanta, Georgia. She writes for both young adults and adults with her brand of multicultural science fiction, urban fantasy, romance and futurism. Her debut novel, Breaking Free is available in print and for immediate download on Amazon and other booksellers. The Breaking Free theme song, Keep Moving, created by Asante McCalla is available for immediate download on itunes and Amazon. Visit her at: www.aliciamccalla.com
Balogun Ojetade – Author of the bestselling “Afrikan Martial Arts: Discovering the Warrior Within” (non-fiction), “Moses: The Chronicles of Harriet Tubman” (Steampunk) and “Redeemer” (science fiction); and screenwriter, director and producer of the feature film, “A Single Link” (martial arts drama). Visit him: http://chroniclesofharriet.wordpress.com/
Wendy Raven McNair – is a wife, mother, artist and author of the Young Adult novels, Asleep and Awake. Visit her athttp://wendyravenmcnair.com/page19.php.