Black to the Future: Interviews with Samuel R. Delany, Greg Tate, and Tricia Rose

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Dery, Mark. "Black to the Future: Interviews with Samuel R. Delany, Greg Tate, and Tricia Rose." In Mark Dery, editor, Flamewars: The Discourse of Cyberculture. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1994.[1] Rpt. in part Marleen S. Barr, editor. Afro-Future Females: Black Writers Chart Science Fiction's Newest New-Wave Tradition. Columbus, OH: The Ohio State University Press, 2008.

As of 16 January 2023, the essay is available on line without a paywall at websites linked here[2] and here.[3]

Barr's anthology is reviewed by Mark A. McCutcheon, Extrapolation 52.2 (Summer 2011): with references to Dery pp. 246 and 249 (review linked at McCutcheon's name).

An important quotation and key for users of this wiki, from Dery's introduction to the Interviews: "Speculative fiction that treats African-American themes and addresses African-American concerns in the context of twentieth-century technoculture — and, more generally, African-American signification that appropriates images of technology and a prosthetically enhanced future — might for want of a better term, be called 'Afrofuturism'" (p. 180).

Dery may miss some earlier work — see McCutcheon review of Barr anthology — but important references. Beyond the future along what we'll note William Gibson called "The Gernsback Continuum,"

[...] African-Ameican voices have other stories to tell about culture, technology, and things to come. If there is an Afrofuturism, it must be sought in unlikely places [...]. Glimpses of it can be caught in Jean-Michel Basquiat paintings such as Molasses,[4] which features a pie-eyed, snaggletoothed robot; in movies such as John Styles's The Brother from Another Planet and Lizzie Borden's Born in Flames; in records such as Jimi Hendrix's Electric Ladyland, George Clinton's Computer Games,[5]

Herbie Hancock's Future Shock [with the song "Rockit" eventually a music-video with dancing robots],[6][7] and Bernie Worrell's Blacktronic Science [...]."[8]

Afrofuturism percolates, as well, through black-written, black-drawn comics such as Milestone Media's Hardware ("A cog in the corporate machine is about to strip some gears ..."), about a black scientists who dons forearm-mounted cannons and a "smart" battle suit to wage guerrilla war on his Orwellian, multinational employer. [...]

[... Milestone-DC's] Icon,[9] an exemplar of Afrofuturism that seeks antebellum memories, hip-culture, and cyberpunk into its compass, warrants detailed exegesis. (Dery p. 182)

Exegesis Dery goes on to give, which see. Note also interviews with authors, with a number of relevant comments.

RDE, finishing, 16Jan23