19 Science-Fiction And Fantasy Novels By Women Of Color You Must Read

Tired of seeing women of color underrepresented in mainstream sci-fi and fantasy? Check out this list.

1. Parable of the Sower, by Octavia Butler

Four Walls Eight Windows

In the near future, chaos and anarchy emerge as the U.S. finds itself on the brink of governmental collapse. Lauren Olamina must form alliances to navigate the dangerous landscape as she travels up north to establish a community rooted in her new religion — Earthseed.

2. The Summer Prince, by Alaya Dawn Johnson

Arthur A. Levine Books

In a futuristic Brazillian city, artist June Coast and the Summer King, Enki, team up to fuel rebellions against the government through demonstrations. As June falls in love with Enki, she will have to wrestle with the fact that he, like all Summer Kings, must die at the end of his yearlong term.

3. Who Fears Death, by Nnedi Okorafar

DAW/Penguin

In a post-apocalyptic, future Africa, Onyesonwu, or “Who Fears Death,” is born to the only survivor of a slain Okeke village. Marked by skin and hair the color of sand, Onyesonwu must learn the ways of sorcery and confront her destiny — ending the genocide of her people.

4. Spirits of the Ordinary: A Tale of Casas Grandes, by Kathleen Alcala

Mariner Books

In a tale reminiscent of Allende’s The House of the Spirits, Alcalá blends folklore and spirituality in the story of the Carabajals, a family who practices their Jewish faith in secret along the U.S.-Mexico border.

5. Ash, by Malinda Lo

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

In this twist on the classic Cinderella tale, Ash seeks refuge from her cruel stepmother by rereading fairytales and dreaming that fairies will come steal her away. After meeting the dark fairy Sidhean, she must choose between her fairy tale dreams coming true and a burgeoning love for the King’s Huntress.

6. The Salt Roads, by Nalo Hopkinson

Warner Books

Spanning centuries and continents, The Salt Roads follows Ezili, the African goddess of love, as she unites and intertwines the stories of three women: Jeanne Duval, an Afro-French entertainer; Mer, an Afro-Caribbean plantation slave and doctor; and Meritet, a Nubian prostitute.

7. A Stranger in Olondria, by Sofia Samatar

Small Beer Press

After his father dies, Jevick must take his place on a selling trip to Olondria, a land where books are common, unlike they are in his home. During the journey he becomes haunted by the ghost of an illiterate girl, and in seeking the help of the Olondrian priests he becomes caught up in a country on the edge of war.

8. Joplin’s Ghost, by Tananarive Due

Washington Square Press

Despite nearly being killed by a piano at her parent’s nightclub when she was ten, Phoenix Smalls is set on pursuing a life of music as an R & B singer. However, after a visit to Scott Joplin’s house in St. Louis, a string of bizarre events leads Phoenix to believe that she might be haunted by the King of Ragtime himself.

9. The Stars Change, by Mary Anne Mohanraj

Circlet Press, Inc.

In this erotic science fiction, author Mary Anne Mohanraj explores sexuality and connection through the University of All Worlds, a school on a South Asian-settled planet that hosts humans, modified humans, and aliens in the midst of what may become an interstellar war.

10. The Antelope Wife, by Louise Erdrich

Harper Perennial

In this magic-infused novel, Erdich follows two Ojibway families, the Shawanos and the Roys, as they live in a city built on what was once an important hunting ground for the Ojibway people — Minneapolis.

11. Almanac of the Dead, by Leslie Marmon Silko

Simon & Schuster

Seese, the former mistress of a cocaine wholesaler, takes a job transcribing a manuscript that prophecies the gruesome end to white rule in America. As the native population rises against hated white masters and magic users work to fulfill the prophecy, the capitalist elite launch a war using cocaine and heroin.

12. The Gilda Stories, by Jewelle Gomez

Firebrand Books

Beginning with her escape from slavery in the 1850s, this centuries-spanning lesbian vampire fantasy follows Gilda through several of her lives in Louisiana, California, Missouri, Massachusetts, New York, and even New Hampshire in 2050.

13. Island of Eternal Love, by Daína Chaviano

Riverhead

Unable to feel at home in her adopted city of Miami, Cuban-born Cecilia seeks refuge in the tales of Amalia, an old woman she meets at a Little Havana bar. Amalia entrances Cecilia with the mythical story of three families from Africa, Spain, and China, which reminds Cecilia of the home she’s been missing.

14. Redemption in Indigo, by Karen Lord

Small Beer Press

After leaving her selfish and gluttonous husband, Pema is presented with a gift from the djombi (undying ones): the Chaos Stick, which allows her to manipulate the subtle forces of the world. Unfortunately, her power attracts the attention of an indigo-skinned djombi who wants the power for himself.

15. So Far from God, by Ana Castillo

W. W. Norton & Company

Set in the small, New Mexico village of Tome, this novel weaves tales of humor, magical realism, hardship, and love through Sofia and her four, fated daughters.

16. Ink, by Sabrina Vourvoulias

Crossed Genres Publications

In the not-too-distant future, temporary workers, permanent residents, and citizens with recent immigration history are marked as “inks” by biometric tattoos. The novel is told through four voices in a small, rural U.S. town: a journalist, an ink, an artist, and the child of a woman who runs a sanitarium-internment center for inks.

17. Orleans, by Sherri L. Smith

Speak

Following a series of hurricanes and a deadly outbreak of Delta fever, people in the Outer States believed life in the Delta to be all but extinct. Fen de la Guerre, one of the few people still in the Delta, must get her leader’s baby to safety after the ambush of her tribe.

18. Salt Fish Girl: A Novel, by Larissa Lai

Thomas Allen Publishers

Told through the voice of a shapeshifting, ageless character who is snake, fish, girl, and woman, this captivating story reaches from nineteenth-century China to the future Pacific Northwest to explore themes of oppression and resistance.

19. The Lost Girl, by Sangu Mandanna

Balzer + Bray

Eva is Amarra’s “echo” — created to replace Amarra if she were to die. From far away, she spends her life studying Amarra’s habits and routines so that if something were to happen, Eva could quickly take her place in India, where echoes are illegal. But when Amarra dies in a car crash at 16, Eva is hardly prepared to risk her life and leave the life she has known.

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