Native American stories have long been underrepresented in genre fiction. In mainstream Science Fiction, a survey of the literature shows native peoples of North America too often trapped in the amber of yesteryear, confined to notions of noble savagery, braids and loincloths.
In recent years, however, a new wave of Authors has emerged — to CHANGE all that. There has been an explosion of novels, comics, graphic novels and short stories from writers blending SCI-FI and Fantasy with Native narratives.
Some see this wave as a natural extension of Native American narrative traditions, which often have SCI-FI elements, like tales about visitors from outer space and creation myths about humanity descending from the sky.
“Indigenous people have always been writing and telling science-fiction stories, but it hasn’t been labeled as such,” says Blaire Topash-Caldwell, a citizen of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians.
This WAVE includes writers like Cherie Dimaline, Rebecca Roanhorse, and Stephen Graham Jones.
Cherie Dimaline is a Canadian Ojibwe/Métis author known for — The Marrow Thieves — a dystopian science fiction novel. It depicts a world where people can no longer dream. Only the indigenous peoples of North America still have the ability to dream. They are hunted for their very marrow that can cure the dreamless.
Rebecca Roanhorse is an American science fiction and fantasy writer. Her debut novel — Trail of Lightning — follows a Native American woman living in Dinétah, the traditional homeland of the Navajo tribe. Isolated from the rest of the chaotic world, it is protected by a series of vast, magical walls that roughly encompass parts of New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, and Arizona. Ancient gods walk the earth and some individuals manifest special abilities known as clan powers.
Some authors say that SCI-FI and Fantasy settings allow them to reimagine the Native experience in ways that wouldn’t be possible in realistic fiction.
Stephen Graham Jones, author of — The Only Good Indians — is a member of the Blackfeet tribe who grew up in Texas. He often uses the framework of horror to examine inequality that Native Americans face. “The intent is to rebalance the world, and the world we live in is not like that.”
This WAVE is also impacting the Silver Screen. In 2015, Shondin Silversmith wrote about the new film “Legends from the Sky”, describing it as part of a new genre: NATIVE SCI-FI.
“This is one of the first Native American sci-fi UFO films in the world, if not the very first,” said director Travis Hamilton. “It’s a sci-fi Native thriller. This is a new genre for us. I’m curious to see how people respond to it.”
As Award-Winning Authors who write Sci-Fi for Young Adult readers, we also believe DIVERSITY in Science Fiction can be a key to fighting RACISM. A short, one minute video expressing this idea appears on VIMEO:
Inspired by Hopi mythology, each volume of THE SURVIVAL TRILOGY explores native beliefs and mythology pertaining to Alien Life — from a unique cultural point of view — book one: Native American, book two: Asian American, and book three: African American. All are connected … through Hopi prophecy.
Publishers Weekly on October 23, 2017 described Book One, A GLEAM OF LIGHT as “Native American mythology intersects with UFOlogy in this earthbound tale of first contact and extraterrestrial influence.” GLEAM was also a Finalist in the 2019 Readers’ Favorite International Book Awards.
DIVERSITY is here — with Native American stories to change SCI-FI forever. Why? Because the world to come is bigger, more complex, and more diverse than most of us can ever imagine. We will all need a new kind of Science Fiction — with a very different view of humanity’s future — to help us embrace it.