Books & Records: Afrofuturism & Heavy Metal

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Dinner and a movie… the standard night out, or night in. I love them both. I’m a big fan of dinner and movies. Everyone knows about dinner and movies, though. How about a book and a record?

For this staff pick I’m giving you one of each, and yes, I do think they complement each other rather nicely. For the book portion of our evening, I suggest looking into Octavia’s Brood: Science Fiction Stories from Social Justice Movements. This collection of short fiction edited by adrienne maree brown and Walidah Imarisha is a fantastic book in theory and execution. The idea of looking to science fiction to explore the intersectionality of social justice movements is not new, but the editors here perform a great task for the rest of us by mining a world of amazing writing to find pieces that are well written, vital, and engaging. Everything from futuristic space opera style pieces to reimagining 1970s pop culture TV shows ends up in this collection, and it’s wonderful.

Likewise, the collection Mothership: Tales from Afrofuturism and Beyond edited by Bill Campbell and Edward Austin Hall is a great collection of material that hits some of the themes that Octavia’s Brood works with. I highly recommend this collection as well!

What to listen to while reading Octavia’s Brood?

Black Sabbath’s 1975 album Sabotage. I love this record for many reasons, the least of which not being that it has “Symptom of the Universe” on it. That song is a glorious mash up of metal intensity and hippie jam-osity. Aside from that song, the album contains “Hole in the Sky,” “The Writ,” and “Meglomania.” These are all classics in their own right. Many people only associate Black Sabbath with the occult. That’s fine. As far as imagery, they certainly used an amazing amount of occult imagery in their time. What I think some folks overlook is that Black Sabbath also used the odd, the other, the futuristic, and the dystopic as subject matter for their albums.

Not a fan of Sabotage?

How about Paranoid? The 1970 offering from Black Sabbath brings us such hits as “War Pigs” and the title track. Also on this record is “Iron Man,” a song which many people know already. Listen again and think about it as a critique of a hyper-technological militarism and the dystopian themes that these guys were messing around with come at you full force.

So do yourself a favor. Read some science fiction written by people of color. You won’t be sorry. Octavia’s Brood and Mothership are amazing collections that might introduce you to some amazing writers you might not have heard before. And give some Black Sabbath a spin. Just for fun. Heavy, heavy fun.

– Eric M.

You can find Eric M. working at the Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped.

This post sponsored by our friends at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh


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