Advertisement

Black Power Utopia: African-American Utopianism and Revolutionary Prophesy in Black Power-Era Science Fiction

  • Mark A. TaboneEmail author
Chapter

Abstract

Tabone discusses the texts that Mark Bould calls Black Power Science Fiction (SF), arguing that these works are an underappreciated form of utopian literature. Drawing on utopian scholars and Black cultural studies, Tabone examines the connections between these works of SF, the rise of the Black Power Movement, and the efflorescence of new utopian literature that appeared during the 1960s. Using John A. Williams’s 1969 novel, Sons of Darkness, Sons of Light, as a representative example, Tabone also discusses the revolutionary or “apocalyptic” form of utopianism employed in these texts. Tabone further argues that this form has prior historical roots in the Black prophetic tradition.

Bibliography

  1. Anonby, John A. The Kenyan Epic Novelist Ngugi: His Secular Reconfiguration of Biblical Themes. Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen, 2006.Google Scholar
  2. Baraka, Amiri. “It’s Nation Time.” In The LeRoi Jones/Amiri Baraka Reader, edited by William J. Harris, 240–242. New York: Thunder’s Mouth, 1991.Google Scholar
  3. Bell, Bernard W. The Afro-American Novel and Its Tradition. Amherst: University of Massachusetts, 1987.Google Scholar
  4. Bloch, Ernst. The Principle of Hope. Translated by Neville Plaice, Stephen Plaice, and Paul Knight. 3 vols. Cambridge: MIT Press, 1986.Google Scholar
  5. Brown, William Wells. Clotel; or, The President’s Daughter. Edited by Robert S. Levine. New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2000.Google Scholar
  6. Bould, Mark. “Come Alive by Saying No: An Introduction to Black Power SF.” Science Fiction Studies 34 (2007): 220–240.Google Scholar
  7. Davidson, Guy. “The Dialectic of Utopia and Apocalypse in Samuel Delany’s The Mad Man.Journal of Modern Literature 32, no. 1 (2008): 13–32.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Delany, Martin R. Blake; or, The Huts of America. Edited by Floyd J. Miller. Boston: Beacon Press, 1970.Google Scholar
  9. Fanon, Frantz. The Wretched of the Earth. Translated by Constance Farrington. New York: Grove Press, 1963.Google Scholar
  10. Foster, Amber. “Nancy Prince’s Utopias.” Utopian Studies 24, no. 2 (2013): 329–348.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Gilroy, Paul. The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double-Consciousness. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1993.Google Scholar
  12. Jameson, Fredric. Marxism and Form. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1971.Google Scholar
  13. Jameson, Fredric. Archaeologies of the Future: The Desire Called Utopia and Other Science Fictions. New York: Verso, 2005.Google Scholar
  14. Jameson, Fredric. “Progress Versus Utopia, or Can We Imagine the Future?” In Archaeologies of the Future: The Desire Called Utopia and Other Science Fictions, 281–285. New York: Verso, 2005.Google Scholar
  15. Jameson, Fredric. “World Reduction in Le Guin.” In Archaeologies of the Future: The Desire Called Utopia and Other Science Fictions, 267–280. New York: Verso, 2005.Google Scholar
  16. Lazarus, Neil. Resistance in Postcolonial African Fiction. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1990.Google Scholar
  17. Marable, Manning. Race, Reform, and Rebellion: The Second Reconstruction and Beyond in Black America, 1945–2006. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2007.Google Scholar
  18. McDowell, Deborah. “The Self in Bloom: Alice Walker’s Meridian.CLA Journal 24, no. 3 (1981): 262–275.Google Scholar
  19. Miller, Floyd J. “Introduction.” In Blake; or, The Huts of America, edited by Floyd J. Miller, xi–xxix. Boston: Beacon Press, 1970.Google Scholar
  20. Mosley, Walter. “Black to the Future.” In Dark Matter: A Century of Speculative Fiction from the African Diaspora, edited by Sheree R. Thomas, 405–407. New York: Aspect, 2000.Google Scholar
  21. Moylan, Tom. Demand the Impossible: Science Fiction and the Utopian Imagination. Methuen, 1986.Google Scholar
  22. Moylan, Tom. “Bloch Against Bloch: The Theological Reception of Das Prinzip Hoffnung and the Liberation of the Utopian Function.” In Not Yet: Reconsidering Ernst Bloch, edited by Jamie Owen Daniel and Tom Moylan, 96–121. New York: Verso, 1997.Google Scholar
  23. Muller, Gilbert. John A. Williams. Boston: Twayne, 1984.Google Scholar
  24. Neal, Larry. “The Black Arts Movement.” The Drama Review: TDR 12, no. 4 (1968): 28–39.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Ogbar, Jeffrey O. G. Black Power: Radical Politics and African American Identity. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2004.Google Scholar
  26. Paik, Peter Y. From Utopia to Apocalypse: Science Fiction and the Politics of Catastrophe. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2010.Google Scholar
  27. Prettyman, Gib. “Critical Utopia as Critical History: Apocalypse and Enlightenment in Kim Stanley Robinson’s The Years of Rice and Salt.Extrapolation 52, no. 3 (2011): 338–364.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Sargent, Lyman Tower. Utopian Literature in English: An Annotated Bibliography from 1516 to the Present. Penn State University Libraries. https://openpublishing.psu.edu/utopia/. Accessed February 16, 2019.
  29. Shor, Francis Robert. “Utopian Aspirations in the Black Freedom Movement: SNCC and the Struggle for Civil Rights, 1960–1965.” Utopian Studies 15, no. 2 (2004): 173–189.Google Scholar
  30. Smethurst, James. The Black Arts Movement: Literary Nationalism in the 1960s and 1970s. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2005.Google Scholar
  31. Somay, Bülent, and R. M. P. “Towards an Open-Ended Utopia.” Science Fiction Studies 11, no. 1 (1984): 25–38.Google Scholar
  32. Tabone, Mark A. “Rethinking Paradise: Toni Morrison and Utopia at the Millennium.” African American Review 49, no. 2 (2016): 129–144.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Tal, Kali. “That Just Kills Me: Black Militant Near-Future Fiction.” Social Text 20, no. 2 (2002): 65–91.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Wegner, Phillip E. Imaginary Communities: Utopia, the Nation, and the Spatial Histories of Modernity. Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2002.Google Scholar
  35. Wegner, Phillip E. Life Between Two Deaths, 1989–2001: U.S. Culture in the Long Nineties. Durham: Duke University Press, 2009.Google Scholar
  36. West, Cornel. Prophesy Deliverance! An Afro-American Revolutionary Christianity. Philadelphia: Westminster, 1982.Google Scholar
  37. West, Cornel. Black Prophetic Fire. Edited by Christina Buschendorf. Boston: Beacon Press, 2014.Google Scholar
  38. Williams, John A. Sons of Darkness, Sons of Light: A Novel of Some Probability. Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1999.Google Scholar
  39. Yaszek, Lisa. “Afrofuturism, Science Fiction, and the History of the Future.” Socialism and Democracy 20, no. 3 (2006): 41–60.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Yaszek, Lisa. “Afrofuturism in American Science Fiction.” In The Cambridge Companion to American Science Fiction, edited by Eric Carl Link and Gerry Canavan, 58–89. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2015.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Tennessee, KnoxvilleKnoxvilleUSA

Personalised recommendations