Title: Speculative Blackness
Author: André M. Carrington
Published: University of Minnesota Press, February 2016
Examines race through fanzines, Star Trek, comic books, and Harry Potter.
In Speculative Blackness, André M. Carrington analyzes the highly racialized genre of speculative fiction—including science fiction, fantasy, and utopian works, along with their fan cultures—to illustrate the relationship between genre conventions in media and the meanings ascribed to blackness in the popular imagination.
Carrington’s argument about authorship, fandom, and race in a genre that has been both marginalized and celebrated offers a black perspective on iconic works of science fiction. He examines the career of actor Nichelle Nichols, who portrayed the character Uhura in the original Star Trek television series and later became a recruiter for NASA, and the spin-off series Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, set on a space station commanded by a black captain. He recovers a pivotal but overlooked moment in 1950s science fiction fandom in which readers and writers of fanzines confronted issues of race by dealing with a fictitious black fan writer and questioning the relevance of race to his ostensible contributions to the ‘zines. Carrington mines the productions of Marvel comics and the black-owned comics publisher Milestone Media, particularly the representations of black sexuality in its flagship title, Icon. He also interrogates online fan fiction about black British women in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the Harry Potter series.
Throughout this nuanced analysis, Carrington theorizes the relationship between race and genre in cultural production, revealing new understandings of the significance of blackness in twentieth-century American literature and culture.