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text 2016-03-03 13:58
Who's Who at the State of Black Science Fiction Convention

(reblogged from Chronicles of Harriet)



Most conventions have Guests who are, to some extent, the headliners of the convention. A convention may have Author, Artist, Editor, Music, Toastmaster and Special Guests.


The State of Black Science Fiction Convention (SOBSFCon / SOBSFicCon) provides a forum for fans to see first-hand, and meet, their favorite authors, artists, cosplayers and filmmakers.


We also serve the interests of authors, editors, comic book creators and other publishing professionals, providing opportunities for networking, promotion, and a convenient location for negotiations and other business meetings.


At SOBSF Con (“SOBSFic Con”), all of the professionals began as fans, and most still consider themselves fans, so you will find that they are approachable, friendly and eager to share their knowledge, wisdom and experience.


State of Black Science Fiction Convention Guests are chosen very carefully. Of course we want our guests to attend panels and workshops, but we also invited guests we genuinely think will enjoy SOBSF Con and have fun themselves! Guests are highly encouraged to experience all the activities that the convention has to offer.


Here is a list of some of our confirmed Guests. This list is ever-expanding, so check back often to learn what other Blacktastic Guests will be in attendance at SOBSF Con!



Charles R. Saunders


Charles R. Saunders


Living literary legend Charles Saunders is our Distinguished Guest of Honor.


He began his career writing stories and essays for fanzines in the early 1970s, but he is best known as the founder of the subgenre of Fantasy called “Sword & Soul,” which is described by Charles: “Sword-and-soul is the name I’ve given to the type of fiction I’ve been writing for nearly 40 years.  The best definition I can think of for the term is ‘African-inspired heroic fantasy’.  Its roots are in sword-and-sorcery, but its scope is likely to expand as time passes.”


In 1981 he published the first Sword and Soul novel, Imaro, about a skilled, fearless, wandering warrior who rivals (exceeds?) Conan. He continued expanding the genre of Sword and Soul with the two-volume Dossouye series about a fierce woman warrior from Dahomey and her mighty war-bull, Gbo. Set in an alternate-earth Africa, Imaro was the first sword and sorcery novel that featured a Black hero and was well-rooted in African history, cosmology and folklore rather than the prevalent Celtic, Arthurian, and Scandinavian inspired fantasies.


Charles has inspired several generations of writers with his work.



Tananarive Due


Tananarive Due


Our Guest of Honor, Tananarive Due, teaches in the creative writing MFA program at Antioch University in Los Angeles and is a former Cosby Chair in the Humanities at Spelman College, where she taught screenwriting, creative writing and journalism.

Tananarive, an American Book Award winner and NAACP Image Award recipient, is the author of over a dozen novels and a work of non-fiction as well.


Her first novel, The Between, published in 1995, and many of her subsequent books, are part of the supernatural / horror genre. Tananarive has also written The Black Rose, historical fiction about Madam C.J. Walker and Freedom in the Family, a non-fiction work about the civil rights struggle. She also was one of the contributors to the humor novel Naked Came the Manatee. She is also the author of the African Immortals novel series and the Tennyson Hardwick novels.


In 2010, she was inducted into the Medill School of Journalism’s Hall of Achievement at Northwestern University.


Tananarive’s novella, “Ghost Summer,” published in the 2008 anthology The Ancestors, received the 2008 Kindred Award from the Carl Brandon Society, and her short fiction has appeared in best-of-the-year anthologies of science fiction and fantasy.


This leading voice in Black Speculative Fiction lives in Southern California with her husband, author Steven Barnes and their son, Jason.



Brandon Massey


Brandon Massey


Brandon Massey was born June 9, 1973, in Waukegan, Illinois and grew up in Zion, a suburb north of Chicago.


He self-published Thunderland, his first novel, in 1999. After managing to sell a few thousand copies on his own, Kensington Publishing Corp. in New York offered him a two-book contract, and published a new, revised edition of Thunderland in December 2002.


Since then, he has published up to three books a year, ranging from thriller novels, to short story collections and anthologies.


He lives, with his family, near Atlanta, GA.



Sheree R. Thomas


Sheree R. Thomas


Sheree Renée Thomas is an author, book editor and publisher.


She is the editor of the award winning Dark Matter and Dark Matter: Reading the Bones anthologies, both collections of some of the best in Black speculative fiction.

She is also the publisher of Wanganegresse Press, and has contributed to national publications including the Washington Post, Black Issues Book Review, QBR, and Hip Mama.


Her fiction and poetry have appeared in Ishmael Reed’s Konch, Drumvoices Revue, Obsidian III, African Voices, storySouth and other literary journals, and has received Honorable Mention in the Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror, 16th and 17th annual collections.


A native of Memphis, she lives in New York City.


Read the rest of the post here.

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review 2011-08-02 00:00
Dark Matter: Reading the Bones - Charles Johnson,Tananarive Due,W.E.B. Du Bois,Nalo Hopkinson,Walter Mosley,Samuel R. Delany,Kalamu ya Salaam,Henry Dumas,Kiini Ibura Salaam,Jewelle Gomez,John Cooley,Sheree R. Thomas,Ibi Zoboi,Kevin Brockenbrough,Tyehimba Jess,Jill Robinson,Wanda Coleman, An uneven collection, but some of the stories in here are very much worth reading. I'd definitely recommend trying it. I especially liked the Nisi Shawl story, and the one by Kevin Brockenbrough. Some of the stories seemed a little much of a muchness, a few days after reading them they sort of blurred together in my mind. But there were definitely five or so that stood out for me and at least a couple of authors I'm going to seek out. So if I get that much out of an anthology I'm satisfied.
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review 2008-04-08 00:00
Dark Matter: A Century of Speculative Fiction from the African Diaspora - Samuel R. Delany,Leone Ross,Evie Shockley,Honorée Fanonne Jeffers,Darryl A. Smith,Akua Lezli Hope,Ama Patterson,Sheree R. Thomas,Charles W. Chestnutt,Paul D. Miller,Linda Addison,Tony Medina,Robert Fleming,Charles R. Saunders,Jewelle Gomez,Kiini Ibura Sal This was a pretty good anthology. There were some exceptional stories and some stories I just didn't get. There was also more playing with grammar than in most of the anthologies I've read. As usual, I'm not a big fan of not following the rules of standard English grammar. There was one story I gave up on (it was written in the 1920's or 1930's) because it was just too difficult to make it through the dialog which was full of half words or words that were spelled phonetically.

The book seemed loaded with stories from 2000 and from the early part of the century. I don't know much about the history of the genre but it sounds like there was a period of time where business was conducted exclusively through the mail so it's not really known how many writers of the time were African-American which might explain the paucity of the 40s through the 70s. But it did seem odd that so many stories were from 2000 rather than the 80s and late 90s.

There were a lot of stories about being an oppressed minority, which is hardly surprising. But I was surprised that I can't recall any story in which African-Americans were considered equal or superior in power to whites in America. Which is to say, no one in the book imagined an African-American president of America. The closet thing to racial equality appears in a story written in the early part of the century that involves what appears to be the end of the world and the only survivors are an African-American man and a white woman. I thought that was one of the exceptional stories in the anthology. The gender differences are highlighted, but that makes sense to me. In a post-apocalyptic world I have no doubt that physical strength will be one of the most important traits for survival and most women not as strong as most men of their same age. Obviously, there are exceptions, but generally speaking I believe that to be true.

Another story I thought was particularly interesting involved aliens coming to earth at a time when the US is very bad shape financially and offering a way to pay off the national debt, clean and renewable energy and a third thing which I forget if the US will just give the aliens all of the African-Americans within its borders within 16 days (on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day). The author imagines the people in power (with the sole exception of a token African-American not-quite-cabinet-member) easily going along with the idea. It was surprising that in 1992 he thought it would be an easy sell. In the story the African-American community protests along with some white Liberals but the protest mainly consisted of having a large meeting and deciding to try and fight it. We never actually see anyone try and fight it with more than words. We're told about African-Americans trying to escape but there's no discussion of the rioting and mobs that I'm sure would take place. I'm still working on the implications of that. Both the idea that America would just agree to sell off parts of its population and that that population would be fairly submissive about being sold. The submissiveness struck me just as much as the easy sell out did.

The five essays at the end about African-American writers in science-fiction were also very interesting. The focus was primarily on Octavia E. Butler, who I've honestly never cared for, and a male writer I don't think I'd heard of before (Richard someone). But I think that's partly because he's doing more literary criticism and less novel writing these days and my focus in the last few years has been on fantasy more than science-fiction.

I also do not recall any stories about African-American scientists. It seems like in much of the sci-fi I've read the characters are movers and shakers in events, they're the soldiers or the leaders or the scientists who made a discovery or are trying to stop something from happening and with one or two exceptions these stories seemed to involve events happening to someone rather than that someone having any power to shape the event. I don't know if that's a reaction to not having as much political power or presence in the sciences or what.

Anyway, a very interesting book with many things to think about.
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