Thursday, September 24, 2009

Classic Black Speculative Fiction

W.E.B DuBois was an amazingly versatile writer and scholar. He wrote a speculative fiction short story called The Comet in 1920. It is included in the anthology Dark Matter: A Century of Speculative Fiction from the African Diaspora by Sheree R. Thomas. The Comet is also available as a stand-alone e-book.

The premise of the story is that in a vaguely futuristic yet oddly contemporary world, a passing comet casts a shadow of death over Manhattan. Only two survive: a black man whose world has been one of poverty and hard work, and a white woman who knows only leisure and privilege. If humanity is to have a future, the two must build a new world from the wreckage of the old.

DuBois spent his final years in Ghana where he is still deeply revered. A small museum houses his extensive library, a bronze bust of him, academic regalia from Harvard and, finally, his outdoor tomb. During my visit to the W.E.B. Du Bois Memorial Centre for Pan-African Culture , the guide took out a first edition copy of The Souls of Black Folks , one of DuBois's personal copies, and allowed me to touch it. I was honored and thrilled.

If you have a chance give The Comet a read, and leave a comment about what you think.