Vol 42, No 1 & 2 (2016)

Speculating Futures: Black Imagination & the Arts

Obsidian’s fall 2016 double-issue explores speculative genres and is edited by Sheree Renée Thomas and Nisi Shawl (short fiction, drama, poetry), Isiah Lavender III (essays), and Krista Franklin (art, visual media, and paraliterature). All artists ask “what if?”, explore the consequences of “if this continues,” and contemplate “if only;” however, practitioners of the speculative arts or Afrofuturism—an umbrella term for science fiction, fantasy, magical realism, fabulism, horror, and unclassifiable and interstitial creative works such as slipstream—ask the same question and respond with an answer that re-imagines whole worlds and goes beyond the known universe.

Afrofuturism and the speculative arts may transport audiences to a planet light-years away,to alternate histories and identities, or deep inside the jewel-toned caves of a far-distant past, another consciousness. Whether extrapolating science and society to imagine futuristic technology, art, and socio-political configurations, or conjuring new forms of magic, these genres imagine what might have been or what might be, opening the door to any possibility.

Table of Contents


And So Shaped the World
Sheree Renée Thomas
Of Alien Abductions, Pocket Universes & Slave Narratives
Isiah Lavendar III
Slavery & the Afrofuture in Samuel R. Delany's "Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand"
Dorothy Stringer
Afrofuturism, Cyborgs & the Fate of Imperialism in Bill Campbell's "Sunshine Patriots"
Jonathan Harvey
Afrofuturism 2.0 & the Black Speculative Arts Movement: Notes on a Manifesto
Reynaldo Anderson
Speculative Sankofarration: Haunting Black Women in Contemporary Horror Fiction
Kinitra D. Brooks, Alexis McGee, Stephanie Schoellman
Scratching at the Dark: A Visual Essay on EthnoGothic
John Jennings


Aphasia & Other States of Reticence
Johnette Marie Ellis
Leader names all ionized matter after himself
Metta Sáma
Silence of Family Trees
Harry Reed
DiVida travels First Class
Monica A. Hand
DiVida contemplates the hard problem
Monica A. Hand
their pasts dropped at my feet
Metta Sáma
for the letter kills but the Spirit gives life
Metta Sáma
He himself was not the light; He came only as witness to the light
Metta Sáma
Classification of Shifting, Bodies
Alana Benoit
The Bean Between the E & the I
LaShawn M. Wanak
Mable & Othello
Mama Whodun
A Reading of Adire Cloth
Jacqueline Johnson
Land Bound (a Zuihitsu)
Jacqueline Johnson
Red Giant Heartthrob
Bianca Spriggs


Monica A. Hand
Otherwise Oblivion: A Tale of the New Old Black Resistance from the Futuretime
Derek Lee McPhatter
The Wall
M. Asli Dukan


His Hollow
Sofia Samatar
Let Your Light Shine Before Men
Christopher Caldwell
Eyes of Xhosa
Iyanna L. Jones
Mahogany Soul
Sandra Jackson-Opoku
Black Magic
Cairo Amani
The Call of Mother Earth
Arthur Flowers
Still Life with Hammers, a Broom & a Brick Stacker
Tochi Onyebuchi
Ten Thousand Hours
Alex Jennings
Portrait of a Young Zombie in Crisis
Walidah Imarisha
Trapped Whispers (from Cell Therapy)
Regina N. Bradley, John Jennings
Seven Possible Futures for the Black Feminist Artist
Alexis Pauline Gumbs


Black Object / White Smoke
Alexandria Eregbu
Untitled #3
Jermaine Harmon
Reflection (After the Deluge)
Ivan Forde
Ivan Forde
Stacey Robinson
We Got Next
Stacey Robinson
Energy & Intention Reverberator with Grounding Circle
Rhonda Wheatley
Focus / Meditation Piece
Rhon Wheatley
Narcissus: My Partner & Myself
Lyric Prince
The Astronaut: The American Dream
Lyric Prince
Masquerades Fortune aka masquerade. Cotton. Diana.
Soraya Jean-Louis McElroy
hot in the valley
Kimberly M. Becoat
Time Travel Device: Super Wax's Jazz Pyramid Raising Device
Christina Springer
What Lies Beneath
J. Johari Palacio

ISSN: 0888-4412