Black speculative fiction encompasses and blurs the genres of magical realism, futurism, horror, fantasy, paranormal, and mythology. These imaginative stories enable writers to create alternative and futuristic worlds, narratives rooted in traditional beliefs and spirituality, and stories that center the Black experience. These stories also raise questions about colonialism, racism, identity, and gender.
At the 2023 National Black Writers Conference Biennial Symposium (Diasporic Visions: A Celebration of Black Speculative Fiction), writers and scholars will discuss the genre’s history and themes, as well as emerging scholarship on the genre. The public gathering will feature interactive roundtable discussions, conversations, and opportunities for attendees to engage with fellow writers, readers, and fans of the genre.
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Annually, the annual award presentation at the National Black Writers Conference honors distinguished internationally acclaimed writers. This year, award-winning authors Sheree Renée Thomas and Jewell Parker Rhodes will receive the Octavia E. Butler Award.
Other confirmed writers are Dr. Reynaldo Anderson, Tananarive Due, Jewelle Gomez, Deirdre Hollman, Wayétu Moore, L. Penelope, and Tim Fielder, among others.
Sheree Renée Thomas is a New York Times bestselling, two-time World Fantasy Award-winning author and editor. A 2022 Hugo Award Finalist, she is the author of Nine Bar Blues: Stories from an Ancient Future, a Locus, Ignyte, and World Fantasy Finalist, Marvel’s Black Panther: Panther’s Rage novel, an adaptation of the legendary comics, and she collaborated with Janelle Monáe on the story, “Timebox Altar(ed)” in The Memory Librarian and Other Stories of Dirty Computer. She co-edited Africa Risen: A New Era of Speculative Fiction, an NAACP Image Award nominee, and is the Editor of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, founded in 1949. Sheree lives in her hometown, Memphis, Tennessee, near a mighty river and a pyramid.
Dr. Jewell Parker Rhodes is the author of six adult novels: Voodoo Dreams; Magic City; Douglass’ Women; Season; Moon; and Hurricane, as well as the memoir Porch Stories: A Grandmother’s Guide to Happiness, and two writing guides: Free Within Ourselves: Fiction Lessons for Black Authors and The African American Guide to Writing and Publishing Non-Fiction. Jewell is also the author of seven books for youth including the New York Times bestsellers Ghost Boys and Black Brother, Black Brother. She has won the American Book Award, the Black Caucus of the American Library Award for Literary Excellence, and the Jane Addams Peace Association Book Award.
Jewell is the Founding Artistic Director of the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing and Narrative Studies Professor and Virginia G. Piper Endowed Chair at Arizona State University. She was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Carnegie-Mellon University. She enjoys teaching, walking her Toy Aussie Sheepdogs, theater, dancing, and music. Born in Pittsburgh, she now lives in Seattle.