Afrofuturism in Mid-Level Fiction – The Oakland Press


Afrofuturism is the imagination of a world where the African diaspora has shaped its future, blending technology and cultural roots, like Wakanda from Marvel’s “Black Panther.” Mid-level fiction has seen an increase in excellent Afrofuturism books, so read on for some great recommendations.

“Sci-Fu Vol. 1: Kick Off” by Yehudi Mercado

“Sci-Fu Vol. 1: Kick Off” by Yehudi Mercado. (Courtesy of Oni Press)

Mix-master Wax accidentally summons a UFO with his perfect beats, only to learn that he is apparently a Sci-Fu master. What is Sci-Fu, you ask? Only the coolest form of mixed martial arts that uses sound waves as weapons. If that wasn’t enough, a giant robot wants to kill Wax. Impressive! This delightful graphic novel is what happens when you mix hip-hop, sci-fi, and kung fu.

“The Emperor’s Last Gate” by Kwame Mbalia and Prince Joel Makonnen

Yared, 12, lives with his uncle Moti (and their bionic lioness Besa!) in the futuristic city of Addis Prime and loves to drop his homework to tune into the underground augmented reality game, The Hunt for Kaleb’s Obelisk. When a rule change forces players to log in with their real names, Yared inadvertently unleashes an attack on his town and his uncle mysteriously disappears. Can he and Besa, along with his in-game rival, the Ibis, find answers to what is shaping up to be a galaxy-wide war?

"Onyeka and the Sun Academy" by Tola Okogwu.  (Courtesy of Margaret K. McElderry Books)
“Onyeka and the Academy of the Sun” by Tọlá Okogwu. (Courtesy of Margaret K. McElderry Books)

“Onyeka and the Academy of the Sun” by Tọlá Okogwu

Onyeka has always been embarrassed by her big curly hair until one day it takes on a life of its own and saves her friend from drowning. Although Onyeka has no idea this could happen, her mother is not surprised and explains that it means Onyeka is a Solari, a secret group of people with superpowers in Nigeria. Travel with her as she learns to control her powers – and maybe, hopefully, stop a disaster? – with others like her at the Académie du Soleil.

“Maya and the Rising Darkness” by Rena Barron

"Maya and the rising darkness" by Rena Barron.  (Courtesy of Clarion Books)
“Maya and the Rising Darkness” by Rena Barron. (Courtesy of Clarion Books)

Although this read technically ventures more into West African fantasy than Afrofuturism, I firmly believe it belongs on this list. In a neighborhood in South Side Chicago, 12-year-old Maya sees things other people don’t, like werehyenas and a creepy shadow man. When her father disappears, she must discover the secrets of her ancestors that give her these special powers and protect the world from the evil Lord of Shadows who wants to destroy it.

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