ASU Library celebrates Black Speculative Fiction with new exhibit and featured collection

Published Oct. 09, 2023
Updated Oct. 24, 2023

In celebration of Black Speculative Fiction Month in October, the ASU Library and Center for Science and the Imagination launch “Griots and Galaxies: Unveiling the Multiverse of Black Speculative Fiction,” a new exhibit at Hayden Library on ASU’s Tempe campus. The exhibit centers on the four primary genres that comprise Black Speculative Fiction—Fantasy, Science Fiction, Horror and (Alternate) History—demonstrating how each works to imagine better futures for Black people.

On Exhibit, Griots and Galaxies, Unveiling the Multiverse of Black Speculative Fiction, Hayden Library Level 1

Visitors to Hayden Library can experience a new featured book collection, Black Speculative Fiction-inspired artwork and a listening station with a curated playlist of songs by Janelle Monáe to Drexciya. A highlight includes Alton Glass’s VR film “POV: Points of View,” a hyper-digital sci-fi virtual reality series immersed in a near-future Los Angeles where personal data is the new currency and weaponized A.I. Police drones. 

The exhibit was curated by ASU Associate Professor Lauren Ruffin, who holds joint appointments in the School of Arts, Media and Engineering and the Media and Immersive eXperience Center.

“Black Speculative Fiction provides a portal into beautiful, attainable futures for us all. It’s important that we absorb the radical work of these creators not just in October but all year long so that we can make better meaning of the world around us,” said Ruffin, associate professor of worldbuilding and visualizing futures in the School for the Future of Innovation in Society. “Black Speculative Fiction takes so many forms, and our curatorial team tried to be expansive in the media we included in the exhibit. We hope that students, faculty, and everyone who students and visitors experience the breadth of the genre not only through books, but film, music, VR and artwork as blueprints to new worlds and ways of being.” 

The network of scholars, artists and contributors to Black Speculative Fiction is worldwide, and author and educator Marcus Haynes studies its many genres and sub-genres. “This exhibit would not be possible without Marcus and the resources and knowledge he has gathered about Black Speculative Fiction. He really helped create the framework for the entire project,” added Ruffin. 

As part of the exhibit, visitors can also explore a new podcast that examines Black and African Speculative Fiction as a tool for social and technological change. In the “Griots and Galaxies” series, host Chinelo Onwualu, Yvette Lisa Ndlovu, and ASU professor Jenna Hanchey interview some of the most exciting authors working in African speculative fiction to understand how stories of time travel, epic fantasy, androids, and aliens can reckon with the legacy of colonialism and inspire transformative futures. 

The podcast authors are featured as part of a new ASU Library collection. 

Exhibit wall display with text and artwork

“We talk about the importance of seeing yourself in the library, in collections, whether that is in books, films or the archives,” said Jessica Salow, assistant archivist with the ASU Library’s Community-Driven Archives and curator of Black Collections. “We hope people connect with Black Speculative Fiction in different ways. This new collection complements the exhibit and podcast and features dozens of authors from Octavia Butler and Zetta Elliott to Rucker Moses and Ta-Nehisi Coates.”

“Griots and Galaxies: Unveiling the Multiverse of Black Speculative Fiction” will be displayed at Hayden Library from October 2023 until February 2024. To plan your visit, check library hours. 

This exhibit is part of ASU’s celebration of Black Speculative Fiction Month, a global literary movement inspiring radical re-imaginings of the past and revolutionary visions for the future. 

Programming is co-produced by ASU Library and the Center for Science and the Imagination, with support from the Institute for Humanities Research, the Future of Being Human Initiative, the School for the Future of Innovation in Society, and the Transformation Project at the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication.