Where Are Our Black Boys on Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy Novel Covers?

Why are there no boys like me on these covers?

My seventeen-year-old brother who lives in Lagos, Nigeria, raised this question to me recently. Not in these exact words, but sufficiently close. I’d been feeding him a steady drip of young adult (YA) science fiction and fantasy (SFF) novels from as diverse a list as I could, featuring titles like Nnedi Okorafor’s Binti, Martha Wells’ Murderbot series, Roshani Chokshi’s The Star-Touched Queen and Cory Doctorow’s Little Brother. The question, at first seemed like a throwaway one, but as my head-scratching went on, I realised I did not have a clear-cut answer for it.

His question wasn’t why there were no black boys like him in the stories, because there definitely were. I guess he wanted to know, like I now do, why those boys were good enough to grace the pages inside but were somehow not good enough for the covers. And because I felt bad about the half-assed response I offered, I decided to see if I could find a better one.

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Read Kai Ashante Wilson’s “The Devil in America”

Scant years after the Civil War, a mysterious family confronts the legacy that has pursued them across centuries, out of slavery, and finally to the idyllic peace of the town of Rosetree. The shattering consequences of this confrontation echo backwards and forwards in time, even to the present day.

Like some other stories published on Tor.com, “The Devil in America” contains scenes and situations some readers will find upsetting and/or repellent. [—The Editors]

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The Revolution Will Be Dramatized

Catching Fire came out November 2013.

Mockingjay: Part I came out November 2014.

In between, Mike Brown was killed by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, and the Ferguson Uprising took place.

This essay is about what it was like to live in an America that can rapturously and enthusiastically consume and cosplay revolution, and can look on real world resistance with disdain.

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The Blacksmith’s Axe, the Aiel’s Spear, and the Tinker’s Sword: When Pacifism is No Longer Enough

Perhaps the most fascinating theme that I have encountered so far as I read my way though The Wheel of Time is Perrin Aybara’s struggle to understand and accept the violence that his life and choices demand of him. Running in parallel to Perrin’s personal struggle have been his encounters with the Tuatha’an, who practice a form of pacifism so profound that it transcends being a way of life and becomes an actual identity. An identity that they themselves have forgotten the full history of but which extends back to the un-Broken world of a bygone Age. An identity that Perrin admires, even envies, but cannot embrace, much as he might wish to.

[A man has a right to defend himself, Faile. Even Aram. No one can make him follow the Way of the Leaf if he doesn’t want to.]

Series: Reading The Wheel of Time

This Year’s World Fantasy Convention Is Moving Online

This year’s World Fantasy Convention was set to take place in between October 29th and November 1st in Salt Lake City, Utah.

However, like most of the major SF/F conventions set to run this year, concerns about the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic have prompted organizers to cancel this year’s in-person event and move the convention online.

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Learning Empathy From Horse Training

One of the hardest things for a human being to do is to understand, and empathize with, the Other. By which I mean any sentient thing that is not the human’s specific self. The more different the Other is from that self, the less easy it is to relate.

I’m not just talking about animals here, or horses in particular, since this is, after all, SFF Equines. I’m talking about Other genders, Other cultures, Other ways of viewing the world. Most if not all of our wars and conflicts either originate in or devolve into some form of this—from invading a country that has resources we want or need, to declaring a particular tribe or nation or faith or skin color “evil” or “deluded” or “lesser” or “not us,” to allotting specific, value-weighted traits to each gender.

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Announcing TorCon, A Virtual Books Convention!

Tor and Tor.com Publishing, in partnership with Den of Geek, are launching TorCon, a virtual convention running from Thursday, June 11th through Sunday June 14th!

There will be eight panels featuring over 20 authors, across a variety of digital platforms, including marquee events featuring: Christopher Paolini & Brandon Sanderson; Neil Gaiman & V.E. Schwab; and Cory Doctorow & Nnedi Okorafor. Head below for the full lineup!

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“That’s why it’s called fantasy”: An Interview With Mercedes Lackey

Mercedes Lackey published her first novel, Arrows of the Queen, in 1987. Since then she’s published well over a hundred more books and an impressive quantity of short fiction both as a solo writer and in collaboration with others. At this point, it should surprise no one to hear that I’m a huge fan. So when I heard that Lackey and her partner and co-writer Larry Dixon would be Guests of Honor at this year’s WorldCon in New Zealand, I proposed that Tor.com send me there to interview her; Tor declined to buy me a plane ticket to New Zealand, even though it was 2019 and no one had even heard of coronavirus. But we decided to pursue the interview part of my proposal, which is how I wound up exchanging a series of emails with Mercedes Lackey while she was on a road trip over the winter holidays last year.

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Star Trek: Voyager Rewatch: “Innocence”

Written by Anthony Williams and Lisa Klink
Directed by James L. Conway
Season 2, Episode 22
Production episode 138
Original air date: April 8, 1996
Stardate: 49578.2

Captain’s log. A shuttle from Voyager has crashed on a moon. Tuvok survived the crash, but Ensign Bennet did not. His last words are regret, as he’d always thought he was lucky that he had no family back in the Alpha Quadrant, but now that he’s dying, he regrets not having anybody to remember him. Since he’s not an opening-credits regular on the show, he can rest assured that no one would remember him anyhow.

[Don’t Vulcans tell bedtime stories?]

Series: Star Trek: Voyager Rewatch

I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream: The Duty of the Black Writer During Times of American Unrest


At some point on the night of November 24, 2015, the Foodtown grocery at 148th and St. Nicholas caught fire.

In the spring of that year, I had graduated from Columbia Law School and was, that fall, living in Harlem and working as a Volunteer Assistant Attorney General and Civil Rights Fellow with the Office of the New York State Attorney General. Twice-daily, five days a week, I would pass that Foodtown grocery store, heading to and from a job where I and fewer than a dozen others were tasked with enforcing federal and local civil rights laws for the State of New York. By the time I had passed that intersection the morning after the fire, the front window was gone and inside was nothing but bitumen.

Content Warning: Police Brutality, Violence

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