February 2021: Black Futures Month

Our February box features works of speculative fiction, sci-fi poetry, a primer on the history of Afrofuturism, and memoir with a healthy dose of magic realism. Scroll down to read a little about each book before making your choice!

Background art is by Ana Latese. Each box will come with a bookmark of one of these four artworks, as well as a sticker by Two Photon Art.

Pet

By Akwaeke Emezi

YA, Fantasy, LGBTQ+

There are no more monsters anymore, or so the children in the city of Lucille are taught. With doting parents and a best friend named Redemption, Jam has grown up with this lesson all her life. But when she meets Pet, a creature made of horns and colours and claws, who emerges from one of her mother's paintings and a drop of Jam's blood, she must reconsider what she's been told. Pet has come to hunt a monster, and the shadow of something grim lurks in Redemption's house. Jam must fight not only to protect her best friend, but also to uncover the truth, and the answer to the question — How do you save the world from monsters if no one will admit they exist?

In their riveting and timely young adult debut, acclaimed novelist Akwaeke Emezi asks difficult questions about what choices a young person can make when the adults around them are in denial. Read more

National Book Award Finalist for Young People's Literature (2019), Locus Award Nominee for Best Young Adult Book (2020), IGNYTE Award Nominee for Best Novel - YA (2020), and Otherwise Award Nominee (2019).

Life on Mars

By Tracy K. Smith

Poetry

You lie there kicking like a baby, waiting for God himself
To lift you past the rungs of your crib. What
Would your life say if it could talk?
—from “No Fly Zone”

With allusions to David Bowie and interplanetary travel, Life on Mars imagines a soundtrack for the universe to accompany the discoveries, failures, and oddities of human existence. In these new poems, Tracy K. Smith envisions a sci-fi future sucked clean of any real dangers, contemplates the dark matter that keeps people both close and distant, and revisits the kitschy concepts like “love” and “illness” now relegated to the Museum of Obsolescence. These poems reveal the realities of life lived here, on the ground, where a daughter is imprisoned in the basement by her own father, where celebrities and pop stars walk among us, and where the poet herself loses her father, one of the engineers who worked on the Hubble Space Telescope. Read more

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry (2012).

Black Girl Unlimited

by Echo Brown

Memoir, YA, Magical Realism

Echo Brown is a wizard from the East Side, where apartments are small and parents suffer addictions to the white rocks. Yet there is magic... everywhere. New portals begin to open when Echo transfers to the rich school on the West Side, and an insightful teacher becomes a pivotal mentor. Each day, Echo travels between two worlds, leaving her brothers, her friends, and a piece of herself behind on the East Side. There are dangers to leaving behind the place that made you. Echo soon realizes there is pain flowing through everyone around her, and a black veil of depression threatens to undo everything she’s worked for.

Heavily autobiographical and infused with magical realism, Black Girl Unlimited fearlessly explores the intersections of poverty, sexual violence, depression, racism, and sexism—all through the arc of a transcendent coming-of-age. Read more

Rosewater

By Tade Thompson

Science Fiction

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.

Kaaro is a government agent with a criminal past. He has seen inside the biodome, and doesn't care to again — but when something begins killing off others like himself, Kaaro must defy his masters to search for an answer, facing his dark history and coming to a realization about a horrifying future. Read more

Winner of the Arthur C. Clarke Award (2019) and the Nommo Award for Best Novel (The Ilube Award) (2017), and John W. Campbell Memorial Award Nominee for Best Science Fiction Novel (2017).

Afrofuturism: The World of Black Sci-Fi and Fantasy Culture

by Ytasha L. Womack

Nonfiction

In this hip, accessible primer to the music, literature, and art of Afrofuturism, author Ytasha Womack introduces readers to the burgeoning community of artists creating Afrofuturist works, the innovators from the past, and the wide range of subjects they explore. From the sci-fi literature of Samuel Delany, Octavia Butler, and N. K. Jemisin to the musical cosmos of Sun Ra, George Clinton, and the Black Eyed Peas’ will.i.am, to the visual and multimedia artists inspired by African Dogon myths and Egyptian deities, the book’s topics range from the “alien” experience of blacks in America to the “wake up” cry that peppers sci-fi literature, sermons, and activism. With a twofold aim to entertain and enlighten, Afrofuturists strive to break down racial, ethnic, and social limitations to empower and free individuals to be themselves. Read more

Locus Award Finalist for Best Non-Fiction (2014).

Two Photon Art

Featured Artist

Two Photon Art is the creative outlet of two full-time scientists, Tera Johnson and Christine Liu. Tera is an environmental scientist at a non-profit in Los Angeles and Christine is pursuing a PhD in neuroscience at UC Berkeley. During the downtime of doing science, we are grateful to be able to express ourselves through art and share it with other scientists and science enthusiasts. We use our profits to give back to the community as often as possible and try to pay opportunities forward.

Check out more of Two Photon's work on their website, support them on Patreon, and follow them on Instagram and Twitter!

Ana Latese

Featured Artist

Hello! My passion is to produce beautiful imagery inspired by vibrant colors, fashion, beauty, and nature. I love incorporating organic forms like foliage and flowers with texture and bold colors to create an interesting visual contrast. Studying for my BFA in Illustration helps me think of different compositions to work with and ways to enhance my storytelling. I use these elements to compliment my artworks, which range from editorial to narrative work.

The most important goal that I strive for in my personal work is to communicate positive ideas and images of people of color. I like creating work that not only illustrates the beauty and strength of a person of color, but also create work that is identifiable and relatable to us. As Faith Ringgold has said, “You can't sit around and wait for somebody to say who you are. You need to write it and paint it and do it.

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