EFOC 2024: Beyond Tomorrow: Pushing the Boundaries of Black Imagination in Futuristic Fiction – Essence


Frustration and anger at the world is the guiding force behind a titular character in Evan Winter’s latest book The Rage of Dragons. This distinction was key to the Author’s Stage panel Winter was a part of at the Essence Festival of Culture. The weight of the world on his character provided a bold way to discuss his speculative fiction novel. It was one significant moment at Beyond Tomorrow: Pushing The Boundaries of Black Imagination in Futuristic Fiction. Winter was joined by moderator Shyheim Williams and authors Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah and H.D. Hunter.

Imperialism and war are more topics that are dissected in The Rage of Dragons. “The key aspect of imperialism is [that] we are all human but someone is more human than the rest,” said Winter. “How do we move beyond the idea of explicit or implicit caste systems,” he questioned.

A key inspiring factor for H.D. Hunter an author who is also a community organizer includes young kids. Being a camp counselor for the first time at 15 was his beginning with being invested in the lives of young people. “I wrote the first book for the kids–the second and third are for them too, but I try to do a little something different–the second installment is really for parents.” 

He went on to share that the sci-fi core of his newest novel Futureland: Battle for the Park keys in on a traveling amusement park. A kid in this book has parents who are extremely smart technologists.

“The novel Chain-Gang All-Stars is about an imagined future where convicted wards of the state can opt of their sentences by participating in death matches,” said Adjei-Brenyah. He adds that his book is a conversation on mass incarceration and the violence that exists in the prison system.

“The interesting thing in America is how people are becoming more aware of inherent racism, the wealth disparities built into our system. A lot of these ills are baked into our central institutions,” adds Adjei-Brenyah.

He also said that Chain-Gang All-Stars book dwells on how when violent systems arise there are a lot of things that can happen such as pressure which creates a competitive nature amongst those who are living through tough times. Or he said the trying moments can push individuals to hold each other with more compassion. 

“The most important human power we have is imagination,” he added.

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