119. The Space Race: Afrofuturism

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Sun Ra and Parliament-Funkadelic return to claim the pyramids, and Octavia Butler uses science fiction to confront the brutal past of slavery.

Thanks to Stephan Terre for the creation of the futuristic intro music!



Further Reading

• O.E. Butler, Kindred (Boston: 1979).

• J. Corbett, The Wisdom of Sun Ra: Sun Ra’s Polemical Broadsheets and Streetcorner Leaflets (Chicago: 2006).


• M. Bould, “The Ships Landed Long Ago: Afrofuturism and Black SF,” Science Fiction Studies 34 (2007), 177-86.

• T.E. Barber, “25 Years of Afrofuturism and Black Speculative Thought: Roundtable with Tiffany E. Barber, Reynaldo Anderson, Mark Dery, and Sheree Renée Thomas,” Topia 39 (2018), 136-44.

• J. Corbett, “Brothers from Another Planet: The Space Madness of Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, Sun Ra, and George Clinton,” in J. Corbett, Extended Play: Sounding Off from John Cage to Dr Funkenstein (Durham: 1994). 

• M. Dery, “Black to the Future: Interviews with Samuel R. Delaney, Greg Tate, and Tricia Rose,” in M. Dery (ed.), Flame Wars: The Discourse of Cyber Culture (Durham: 1994), 180-222.

• K. Eshun, More Brilliant than the Sun: Adventures in Sonic fiction (London: 1998).

• K. Eshun, “Further Considerations on Afrofuturism,” New Centennial Review 3 (2003), 287-302.

• G.J. Hampton and K.R. Parker (eds), The Bloomsbury Handbook to Octavia E. Butler (London: 2020).

• E. Steinskog, Afrofuturism and Black Sound Studies: Culture, Technology, and Things to Come (Cham: 2018).

J. Szwed, Space Is the Place: The Lives and Times of Sun Ra (Durham: 2020).

• P. Youngquist, A Pure Solar World: Sun Ra and the Birth of Afrofuturism (Austin 2016).

Film: The Last Angel in History (1996, directed by John Akomfrah)


Karl Young on 6 March 2023


Wow, Peter, this episode and it’s detailed exploration of Sun Ra’s mythology exceeded all my expectations ! (I suppose I should have expected nothing less :-)). And I’d read Butler’s Parables (of the Sowers and Talents) given that they’d been pitched to me as canonical. But, ironically, a couple of weeks ago a friend that owns a science fiction bookstore said, oh no, you need to read Kindred, it’s her masterpiece, so I plunked down and bought it. I can’t imagine a better set up for getting to it than your and Chike’s description. As always profuse thanks for the podcast (all branches).

Josh on 6 March 2023

Space is the place

Missed a real opportunity here for some good song tilte usage! Space is the Place, The Clones of Dr Funkenstein, etc etc...

In reply to by Josh

Peter Adamson on 6 March 2023


You mean for the title of the episode itself? I was really pleased with that actually, I like the pun! (Of course I do.) We don't usually take titles of actual works discussed in the episode as titles for the podcasts, seems too obvious.

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