Summer Reading

For those new to speculative fiction in general and African-American writers of the form in particular, the newest 'Dark Matter' anthology, edited by Sheree Thomas, is the perfect guide

Summer Reading

Dark Matter, Reading the Bones: Speculative Fiction from the African Diaspora

edited by Sheree R. Thomas

Aspect, 416 pp., $14.95 (paper)

For those new to speculative fiction in general and African-American writers of the form in particular, the newest Dark Matter anthology edited by Sheree Thomas is the perfect guide. As an umbrella term that welcomes fantasy, sci-fi, horror, and alternative histories, Dark Matter, Reading the Bones reflects the definition of speculative fiction with its eclectic mix of stories by 24 writers, with special attention paid to emerging speculative fiction writers. Selections zoom from Pam Noles' fantastic and horrifying "Whipping Boy" to David Findlay's union of sci-fi and fantasy in "Recovery From a Fall" to brief flights of joyous word play that surf on the music of street corner slang. In the latter, Douglas Kearney's short but delightful "Anansi Meets Peter Parker at the Taco Bell on Lexington" is an amusing, contemporary version of the Anansi the spider tale. In this, Anansi (the trickster from African folklore) is miffed that Peter Parker (aka Spider-Man) is turning coin and heads, while he lives in poverty. Perhaps the most surprising piece is from novelist Walter Mosley. What at first appears to be a contemporary story of a family struggling to meet the needs of their gifted child, Mosley's "Whispers in the Dark" deftly turns into a hair-raising tale of a parent's ultimate sacrifice for the love of his child, in a not so distant future where anything is for sale. Following the short stories are three essays, the first of which is a transcript of a 1997 panel discussion from the Black Speculative Fiction Writers Conference held at Clark Atlanta University. Moderated by Jewelle Gomez, it features Octavia E. Butler, William Hudson, Tananarive Due, Steven Barnes, and Samuel R. Delany.
  • Summer Reading

  • The Coast of Akron

    It's been said that behind every great man there's a woman, but Adrienne Miller kicks it up a notch

    The Missing Person

    This auspicious debut, begun at the Michener Center for Writers, isn't a mystery yarn or a family gothic, a romance, or a satire of radical environmentalism. It's all of the above and then some.

    The R. Crumb Handbook

    The familiar self-portrait on the front cover of 'The R. Crumb Handbook' offers a warning before you crack the spine:'I'm not here to be polite!'

    Contrabando: Confessions of a Drug-Smuggling Texas Cowboy

    He spent seven years smuggling marijuana into the United States over the border from Mexico and somehow lived to write about it

    The People of Paper

    Rarely does a novel succeed in strengthening itself through its own dismantling


    Ian McEwan's observation of human experience is unflaggingly acute
  • The Closers

    Michael Connelly's ace homicide detective Harry Bosch is back with LAPD after three years' retirement


    Anyone familiar with the musical output of John Wesley Harding (né Wesley Stace) knows that the artist possesses a sly wit and literary ear that sets him apart from his fellow folk singers

    Bitter Milk

    One big, crippling thought that makes you wonder how long John McManus has been waiting to confide it, this naturalistic first novel from the former Michener fellow and author of the short-story collections 'Born on a Train' and 'Stop Breakin Down' takes place in late-Eighties East Tennessee at the base of a ridge in the Smokies


    In 'Embroideries,' Marjane Satrapi again returns to the Iran of her youth, this time taking readers to a more intimate place, the space inhabited by women

    Also Recommended

    Some other summer reading possibilities ...

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Sheree R. Thomas, Aspect, Dark Matter, Reading the Bones:Speculative Fiction From the African Diaspora

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