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Afrofuturism, Afro Fantasy breathe new life into old genres

Growing up as a Black kid obsessed with Dr. Who and Star Trek, T Aaron Cisco says he felt like an outsider amongst outsiders. He captured the experience in his memoir, “Black Nerd, Blue Box.”

“It was scary to put myself out there like that...but to be received positively was a really proud moment,” said Cisco.

In addition to his memoir, Cisco is the author of several sci-fi books with an afro-futurist bent. Afrofuturism explores the intersection of African diasporic culture with science and technology. When he first started writing, Cisco says some publishing companies declined to take him on because:

“Black people don’t read genre fiction and that there’s no market for it or that afrofuturism will just be a fad”

Cisco says that is one of the reasons why he chooses to work with Indie publishing houses.

In his most recent book ‘The Unbanished’ - released this past March - Cisco stepped into exploring a brand new genre, Afro Fantasy. Afro Fantasy is a subgenre of fiction that includes myth, lore, and magic based on African culture and the Black experience. Cisco says Afro Fantasy is breathing new life into an otherwise tired genre.

“If it’s fantasy and there’s no rules, why do we keep seeing the same 10 to 15 tropes... I wanted to draw on French folklore and the mythology of West African nations.”

Something that continues to be a driving force for Cisco is fanmail.

“That blows my mind, that someone I don’t know read something and they liked it enough, the fact that it’s connecting with people, that makes it worth it.”

Cisco will be the guest of honor at Diversicon 29 - a speculative fiction conference in Plymouth, Minnesota - in late July.


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