Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

Shelf Life

Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

Shelf Life

Article excerpt

André M. Carrington

What books meant most to you as a young child?

Librarians would read aloud to my elementary school class, and one of the picture books I've never forgotten is Anansi the Spider. We had an already dated World Book Encyclopedia in my home when I was young, and I read as much of it as I could understand. I dwelled on the pages about dogs, fish and other animals, most of the time. I also recall reading books my older sisters owned: Temple of My Familiar and Possessing the Secret of Joy by Alice Walker (I had only seen the film version of The Color Purple), a paperback edition of Six Women's Slave Narratives, and The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison.

Were you a fan of science, fantasy or speculative fiction when growing up?

I was. I read Lloyd Alexander's Chronicles of Prydain series of novels over and over again. One of the first Golden Age texts I read was The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury, and I still think it's among the best fiction of the 20th century.

Which science fiction or fantasy works do you find most interesting, in light of what you've noted are these genres' overwhelming whiteness?

Wild Seed is my favourite Octavia Butler novel. I also recommend Walk to the End of the World and Motherlines by Suzy McKee Charnas; they depict a dystopian patriarchy and a feminist utopia, respectively, with the absence of black men as a shared feature of both societies.

You focus on the actor Nichelle Nichols in a chapter of 'Speculative Blackness'. What did you find interesting about her memoir, 'Beyond Uhura'?

Nichols juxtaposes her choice to reprise her role in Star Trek: The Motion Picture and its sequels with her ambivalence toward blaxploitation cinema. …

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