These 10 Black Sci-Fi Authors Are Out of This World

In honor of Black History Month, check out 10 amazing black sci-fi authors who are out of this world!

Author's Corner Black Voices Diverse Voices Recommendations Science Fiction
An image of Octavia E. Butler in the foreground, with the purple background depicting the cover of her previous works, as well as many other black authors.

If you’re a fan of androids, space travel, otherworldly space-faring beasts, or anything else that screams and oozes science fiction, you’re in luck! We’ve officially landed in Black History Month, and we’re here to hype up some of the phenomenal black sci-fi authors who’ve made their mark on the genre.

That being said, check out these 10 fantastic black sci-fi authors to add to your bookshelves!

Octavia E. Butler

A photo of Octavia E. Butler in the middle, dressed in a shirt with her book, Dawn on the left, and Xenogenesis on the right. The left depicts a gold figure with what looks to be plants, etc. The right depicts an alien with a black child, with Earth and the Moon in the background in space.

Born in Pasadena in 1947, Octavia E. Butler was a renowned African American author who was praised highly for her work, especially when it comes to the likes of her award-winning novels like Parable of the Sower, The Xenogenesis series, and The Patternist series— all of which take place in breathtaking worlds with thought-provoking themes, inspiring characters, as well as stories to draw readers into.

Although her books have originally been published back in the 1980s to 1990s, they still hold up today. Just from reading the premises of Butler’s books, you can’t help but add them to your TBR. That being said, the next up-and-coming sci-fi author is none other than…

Nicky Drayden

A photo of Nicky Drayden on the left, wearing a brown shirt with her book, Escaping Exodus on the right, which depicts a female figure surrounded by white cloth, what looks to be grass, and other things.
IMAGE VIA Clarkesworld

Nicky Drayden is another cool sci-fi author that deserves a spot on this list! A Texas resident (where it’s of course, totally encouraged to be out-of-this-world), Drayden is well-known for the likes of her award-winning debut novel, The Prey of Gods, which is set in a futuristic South Africa (woo hoo, Afrofuturism!) teeming with robots, demigods, and a whole bunch of other wild stuff!

Her new novel, Escaping Exodus, takes place in a civilization which just so happens to be living inside a gargantuan space-faring beast. Another one of her books, The Hero of Numbani, (set in the Overwatch universe) follows the origin of one of the heroes in the video game series.

We do love a little Afrofuturism around here. But Drayden and Butler aren’t the only outstanding black sci-fi authors in that subgenre…

Tade Thompson

The author, Tade Thompson on the left, wearing a purple shirt with his book, Rosewater on the right, which is depicted with pink and orange lines on top of one another, with a black background and the words, ROSEWATER, sitting in the middle.
IMAGE VIA The Africa Report

Besides Tade Thompson specializing in psychiatry (as a Psychology major, I greatly approve), he’s a British-born Nigerian who is well-known for a plethora of novels and short stories, especially when it comes to sci-fi.

His 2016 novel, Rosewater, is the first book in The Wormwood Trilogy. Rosewater follows Kaaro, a government agent that has a dark past, who has seen the inside the mysterious alien biodome, which is the same thing that most people are curious about due to its rumored healing powers. Kaaro is tasked with figuring out who is killing off those much like himself, and must search for answers, while coming into realization of a rather horrifying future. Our hero also happens to have psychic powers too.

Roxane Gay

An image of Roxane Gay on the right, wearing a black shirt with the cover of Black Panther: World of Wakanda, which depicts the Black Panther on the right, with a character in green at the bottom, and two characters in red at the top.
IMAGE VIA Ebony Magazine

Roxane Gay was born on October 15, 1974 to parents of Haitian descent, and she has a plethora of published works that are critically acclaimed, ranging from the likes of Bad Feminist: Essays, An Untamed State, among many others!

Especially when it comes to a comic book that she has worked on, Black Panther: World of Wakanda. In it, it focuses more on fleshing out the worldbuilding of Wakanda, through a story filled with tenderness, love, friendship, as well as conflict. Plus, a lot of lore delving! This is definitely a treat for those who’ve enjoyed the first Black Panther in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and the most recent Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.

Cadwell Turnbull

The author, Cadwell Turnbull on the right, wearing a blue shirt with the cover of his book, The Lesson, on the left, depicting a blue seashell with an array of blue lines emerging from it.
IMAGE VIA Littsburgh

Hailing from the U.S. Virgin Islands, Cadwell Turnbull is a man of many things, especially when it comes to writing novels and short stories, the latter of which, have appeared in many magazines. One of his novels, The Lesson, is the recipient of multiple of Science Fiction awards!

In The Lesson, the inhabitants of the US Virgin Islands have lived with a race of highly advanced aliens known as the Ynaa. The Ynaa are on a super-secret research mission that they won’t spill the beans over. Because of the Ynaa’s aggression, both the Virgin Islanders and the Ynaa have a strained relationship, and a fragile peace. However, when a young boy dies to an Ynaa, three families suddenly find themselves in the storm of conflict, and it’s the kind that will touch everyone. If you ever liked to live with aliens, this is for you.

Colson Whitehead

An image of Colson Whitehead on the right, dressed professionally with his book, The Intuitionist, on the left, only depicted as a cluster of buildings against a green background.
IMAGE VIA Book Oblivion

Born in the heart of New York City (Manhattan) on November 6, 1969, Colson Whitehead is an African American author who is well-known for his book, The Intuitionist. Despite the decade or two that has passed since it’s publication, The Intuitionist still remains relevant to this day, as it tackles themes of bias and racism, alongside a profession that isn’t really thought of much (or really underrated)- a city elevator inspector.

The Intuitionist follows our heroine, Lila Mae Watson, the first black female elevator inspector in the history of the Department of Elevator Inspectors. There’re two conflicting factions that exist within the department however: you have the Empiricists, your traditional, by the book people who check dutifully for problems with the winch cable and whatnot. Then you have the Intuitionists, those who are able to enter the elevator cab, solve any defects, and meditate.

However, between a new elevator going into total freefall, the Empiricists, and portions of the notebook that hint towards a “black box”, Lila has her hands full; on top of uncovering a secret. It’s an intriguing sci-fi book that, again, still holds up to this day.

Tochi Onyebuchi

A photo of Tochi Onyebuchi on the left with a navy-blue shirt and glasses. On the right depicts the cover of Riot Baby, with a black woman in the background with the title letters in the forefront.
IMAGE VIA The Nerd Daily

A Nigerian American science fiction and fantasy writer, Tochi Onyebuchi was born in Massachusetts, but is currently a Connecticut resident. His most recent sci-fi book, Goliath, is a futuristic dystopian novel set in the 2050s that follows several point-of-views or narratives: a space-dweller aiming to reconnect with his lover in New Haven, Connecticut, a group of laborers trying to reinvigorate the idea of promises in Earth’s forsaken cities, a journalist attempting to capture the violence on the streets, and a marshal trying to get to the bottom of a kidnapping. It tackles race, class, and the idea of who could be a hero of any kind of history.

His previous sci-fi book, Riot Baby, is also a dystopian novel that follows Ella and Kev in Los Angeles. The former possesses a “thing,” where she’s able to see things that haven’t happened yet, such as seeing a classmate grow up to be a caring nurse, and a neighbor’s son killed by a drive-by-shooting. Kev however, has a strong desire to protect Ella from a potentially devastating power. But when Kev gets incarcerated, Ella must find a way to make things right; all while grappling with the ability to level cities by her own hands.

Tochi Onyebuchi tackles civil rights and Afrofuturism in his thought-provoking iconic stories.

Walter Mosley

On the right depicts Walter Mosley, wearing a checkered grey fedora with a black blazer and a yellow shirt underneath. On the left depicts the cover for the Deliver in a Blue Dress, with Walter Mosley letters depicted in gold, with the title of the book below it, with a blue background and the letters (and palmtrees and a white hitscan) in black.
IMAGE VIA Books Inc.

Born on January 12, 1952, in Los Angeles, California, Walter Mosley is a legendary black author whose books start all the way back to the beginning of the 1990s, with the likes of Devil in a Blue Dress (which was adapted to film in 1995), up to now with Blood Groove! Additionally, Walter Mosley has written various short stories, many of which can be found in The Awkward Black Man, acompilation of his most popular short stories. Mosley of course, done many genres, including the likes of sci-fi.

In the realm of sci-fi- casually dropping here that he has worked on Star Trek: Discovery– Walter Mosley has put out very neat science fiction novels! Notable ones include Blue Light– his very first science fiction novel -and Future Land. In it, a blue light comes from an unknown point in the universe, arriving at Earth. The moment it does, those who are struck by it transform, causing humans to evolve; those who possess the light achieves their full potential that is far beyond our understanding.

Future Land imagines a more dystopian America. Drugs are better, but the daily grind is beyond repair. The gap between the rich and the poor has widened to where it rivals the Grand Canyon. Someone can store the world’s knowledge on a chip that’s imbedded in a finger. The Supreme Court, declared that any individual who challenges the system, doesn’t have constitutional rights.

W.E.B. DuBois

An image of W.E.B. Du Bois with a bowtie and a tuxedo, essentially dressed professionally, with The Comet cover (presumably) in the forefront, depicting figures carrying the planets of the Solar System.
IMAGE VIA poco.lit.

Ah, W.E.B. Du Bois. One of the most influential sociologists, socialists, historians, intellectuals, and civil rights activists in history. He was also known to be the first Black American to earn a PhD from Harvard University, and eventually became the NAACP’s director of publicity and research. On top of it all, he has dabbled in the realm of science fiction!

The Comet, written in 1920, is a science fiction speculative short story by W.E.B. Du Bois. It was written while he was doing his role at The Crisis, which is known as the official magazine of the NAACP. The short story imagines a catastrophic event that occurs on Earth, due to a passing comet. It only destroys Manhattan entirely, but two survivors come out of it: a black man, who knows only poverty and hard work, and a white woman, who knows only leisure and privilege. For humanity to have a future, the two from different worlds, must build a new world on top of the old one.

W.E.B. Du Bois himself remains to be one of the most major black figures in history, and for good reason.

Rivers Solomon

An image of River Solomon on the right, wearing glasses and a hat. On the left depicts the cover for An Unkindness of Ghosts, showing a woman covered in stars and space.
IMAGE VIA The Writes of Womxn

Last, but certainly not least, is none other than the marvelous Rivers Solomon! Born in California, and now currently a Cambridge, England resident, Rivers Solomon is known for their works in the writing sphere, especially with the likes of the debut science fiction novel, An Unkindness of Ghosts, which was officially released in 2017.

The An Unkindness of Ghosts takes place on a space vessel situated somewhere in space. Our heroine, Aster, lives in the lower deck slums of the HSS Matilda. For many generations, Matilda has brought the last of humanity to the supposed Promised Land. On the voyage, the ship’s leaders rule over the inhabitants with a suffocating iron fist. Caught in a grudge, Aster learns that there may be a way out of this mess; if, she’s willing to set loose the wheels of civil war. Imaginative and thought-provoking, this is among one of many things Rivers Solomon has published in her career.

Hopefully we’ve encouraged you to scour your nearby bookstore to get the books from the authors on this list! For everything else about Black History Month, or to discover more black authors, check out some amazing black fantasy authors!