Science fiction and fantasy characters such as Iron Man and Harry Potter are amongst the most popular in both literature and film. Thanks to the rise in demand for ethnic diversity, we have been seeing more variety in the characters we read about on the page and those who we watch on screen. In honor of Juneteenth, here are some sci-fi and fantasy books and movies with Black main characters.
If you love young adult novels or want to explore fantastical literature but don't know where to start, then you're in luck. Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi imagines a world in which those born with silver hair possess magical powers. Children of Blood and Bone is followed by the sequel, Children of Virtue and Vengeance with a planned third book to finish off the trilogy.
What would you do if you went to sleep as your current self and woke up the following morning as a slave in the 1800s? In Octavia Butler's Kindred, that's precisely what happens to Dana Franklin, the protagonist in this sci-fi novel. Butler uses the art of time travel to juxtapose Dana's realities as a modern-day writer and a slave woman in antebellum America. For those who prefer visual imagery, Octavia E. Butler's Kindred also has a graphic novel adaptation by Damian Duffy to help you visualize Butler's narration.
Similar to Octavia Butler, Black author N.K Jemisin specializes in science fiction and fantasy works. The Inheritance Trilogy is just one example of her long resume of awarded novels. Jemisin uses her immaculate worldbuilding and attention to literary detail to craft a complex story full of Black characters.
2018 was a revolutionary year for Black representation in science fiction, starting with Marvel Studios releasing Black Panther, starring late actor Chadwick Boseman as T'Challa (Black Panther). T'Challa is crowned the new king of his African home known as Wakanda, home to the most powerful resources in the world. T'Challa, his loved ones and allied forces fight to protect their land from the pressure of outside influences threatening to invade and take control of Wakanda and all of its powers.
Black Panther was followed by a sequel starring Letitia Wright as the next Black Panther in 2022, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.
Later on in 2018, Marvel also came out with another movie called Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, this time a 3D animation film. Miles Morales is your average everyday teen living in New York City – that is until he gets bitten by a radioactive spider, turning him into Spider Man. Its sequel, Spiderman: Across the Spider-Verse, is currently in theaters.
For more reading recommendations, view more African American science fiction and fantasy fiction in our catalog. Do you have a favorite science fiction or fantasy book featuring Black characters? Let us know in the comments.