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
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.