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A staff writer at The Mary Sue is calling for the literary world to “stop marketing Black sci-fi as the ‘Black version’ of White Stories.” It’s something that has been mentioned here and there on blogs and social media, but Princess Weekes is forcing a necessary long look at the trend, citing the receptions of books by Nnedi Okorafor, Tochi Onyebuchi, and Marlon James.

She begins with Nnedi Okorafor’s October 2018 tweet asking people to “stop calling the Akata series a ‘Nigerian Harry Potter,'” and points out Onyebuchi’s decision to cite N.K. Jemisin in his acknowledgements in Riot Baby, rather than presumed influences like Akira, and gets to James’ throwaway comment describing his Black Star trilogy—including Black Leopard, Red Wolf—as an “African Game of Thrones” becoming the main media tag for the series.

“This isn‚Äôt to say that we are not inspired or influenced by non-Black art,” Weekes wrote. “The works of Jane Austen, plus all the magical girl anime and shonen I‚Äôve watched, are very much a part of my creative blueprint. However, the confidence to tell Black stories often comes from seeing others do it first.”

Read the post on The Mary Sue and follow the conversation in the comments.

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About Otosirieze Obi-Young

View all posts by Otosirieze Obi-Young
Otosirieze Obi-Young is a writer, journalist, & Deputy Editor of Brittle Paper. The recipient of the inaugural The Future Awards Prize for Literature in 2019, he is a judge for The Gerald Kraak Prize and was a judge for The Morland Writing Scholarship in 2019. He is Nonfiction Editor at 14, Nigeria’s first queer art collective, which has published volumes including We Are Flowers (2017) and The Inward Gaze (2018). He is Curator at The Art Naija Series, a sequence of e-anthologies of writing and visual art focusing on different aspects of Nigerianness, including Enter Naija: The Book of Places (2016), which explores cities, and Work Naija: The Book of Vocations (2017), which explores professions. His work in queer equality advocacy in literature has been profiled in Literary Hub. His fiction has appeared in The Threepenny Review and Transition. He has completed a collection of short stories, You Sing of a Longing, is working on a novel, and is represented by David Godwin Associates literary agency. He has an M.A. in African Studies and a combined honours B.A. in History & International Studies/English & Literary Studies, both from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He taught English in a private Nigerian university. Find him at otosirieze.com, where he accepts writing and editing offers, or on Instagram or Twitter: @otosirieze. When bored, he Googles Rihanna.

One Response to “Why We Should Stop Marketing Black Sci-Fi as the Black Version of White Stories” Subscribe

  1. Joseph Wegesa March 21, 2020 at 3:37 pm #

    It’s a marketing tactic and not necessarily saying they’re copying the white version. People will likely buy something that is similar to something else they’re familiar with.

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