“We take blood, not life. Leave something in the exchange.”
“There are many ways that I could have approached this topic. I could have talked about a black actor famous for his/her SF films–Will Smith, Wesley Snipes, Jada Pinkett Smith, Zoe Saldana (I know she is Dominican and the politics that are sometimes associated with that). I could have written about black comic book characters, Blade, Storm, the new Spiderman. All of these would have been really fun blogs, but because I am literary and a fantasy writer, I wanted to write about Jewelle Gomez, whose work is under-appreciated–at least as far as I can tell–particularly because of the ground that she broke in publishing her most well-known novel, The Gilda Stories.
The Gilda Stories (1991) is, right now, the earliest known black vampire novel published in the U. S (meaning that the protagonist is both black and a vampire). The novel follows Gilda, a girl who escapes slavery and the abuses of men into a community of women vampires. Gomez imagined a vampire community that is far from the ripping and slashing types in the vein (pun intended) of Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Her vampires alter the relationship between vampire and human, imagining reciprocity rather than selfish take. The novel traces Gilda’s path across the ages into an eventually apocalyptic world.
Not only is the novel a wonderful read (I actually taught it in a course of vamp lit once, with good results), but Gomez’s imagining of the experience of a vampire, who is not only a woman but also black, laid the groundwork for the offerings from authors like Banks, Butler, and Due–whose works generally receive more praise and recognition than Ms. Gomez’s. To me, facts like these are important. Understanding literary genealogies, if you will, clarifies the interplay between the different texts.
Ms. Gomez is still actively writing in all media. She has even adapted The Gilda Stories for the stage. You can check out her at JewelleGomez.com.
Next week is our finale, and it is going to be a really special one. Catch up on the previous weeks by checking out the Black Sci-Fi 2012 archive. Don’t forget, there is still time to get involved for a chance to win the Grand Finale Giveaway. Check out the rules here.
Check out the other icons…
Winston Blakely, Artist/Writer
— is a Fine Arts/Comic Book artist, having a career spanning 20 years, whose achievements have included working for Valiant Comics and Rich Buckler’s Visage Studios. He is also the creator of Little Miss Strange, the world’s first black alien sorceress and the all- genre anthology entitled – Immortal Fantasy. Both graphic albums are available at Amazon, Barnes and Nobles and other online book store outlets. Visit him: http://blakelyworks.blogspot.com/
Milton Davis, Author
– Milton Davis is owner/publisher of MVmedia, LLC . As an author he specializes in science fiction and fantasy and is the author of Meji Book One, Meji Book Two and Changa’s Safari. Visit him: http://www.mvmediaatl.com/Wagadu/
Margaret Fieland, Author
— lives and writes in the suburbs west of Boston, MA with her partner and five dogs. She is one of the Poetic Muselings. Their poetry anthology, Lifelines http://tinyurl.com/LifelinesPoetry/
is available from Amazon.com Her book, “Relocated,” will be available from MuseItUp Publishing in July, 2012. The Angry Little Boy,” will be published by 4RV publishing in early 2013. You may visit her website, http://www.margaretfieland.com
Thaddeus Howze, Author – is a veteran of the IT and Communications industry with over 26 years of experience retooling computers to best serve human needs. Unknown to humanity, our computers have another agenda. Thaddeus recently released his first collection of short stories, Hayward Reach. In a coded format, he has secretly informed Humanity of the impending computerized apocalypse. You can read parts of the code here: http://ebonstorm.wordpress.com or http://ebonstorm.weebly.com
Alicia McCalla, Author—
writes for both young adults and adults with her brand of multicultural science fiction, urban fantasy, and futurism. Her debut novel, Breaking Free
is available in print or immediate download on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, and other booksellers. The Breaking Free theme song
created by Asante McCalla is available for immediate download on iTunes and Amazon. Visit her at: www.aliciamccalla.com
Balogun Ojetade, Author
—of the bestselling “Afrikan Martial Arts: Discovering the Warrior Within” (non-fiction), “Moses: The Chronicles of Harriet Tubman” (Steampunk) and the feature film, “A Single Link”. Visit him: http://chroniclesofharriet.wordpress.com/
Rasheedah Phillips, Author–
is the creator of The AfroFuturist Affair
in Philly. She plans to debut her first spec/sci-fic novel Recurrence Plot in Spring 2012. You may catch her ruminating from time to time on her blog, AstroMythoLosophy.com
Nicole Sconiers, Author
-is also a screenwriter living in the sunny jungle of L.A. She holds an MFA in creative writing from Antioch University Los Angeles, and she recently published Escape from Beckyville: Tales of Race, Hair and Rage.
Visit her: http://nicolesconiers.com/index.html
9 thoughts on “State of Black Sci Fi…My Tribute to SF Icon Jewelle Gomez”
Amazing… a lot of interesting stuff that is out here. I think that this
blog hop gives everyone a chance to see and hear of authors, artists, actors and books that we normally would not know about.
Or if we do… even more information, that would entertain us as
well as educate us about their struggle to publish, fame or
Thanks Winston. I am enjoying that too. I really liked your post about Billy Graham–especially since I am so partial to panthers right now.
I heard of the Gilda stories from my sister years ago, however, I knew nothing of Jewelle Gomez. Thank you, so much, for this enlightening post!
I was amazed to find out that The Gilda Stories is the earliest known Black Vampire novel. It was published a little over 21 years ago. I would have expected that there would be earlier pieces–but everywhere I looked, I found the same information. She really needs to be recognized for breaking that ground.
Yes, she does.
Wonderful post, L.M. Ms. Gomez’s face is familiar — I think she was mentioned on a womanist website — but I haven’t had a chance to explore her work. With this fabulous introduction, I will have to check out the Gilda stories. As you say, L.A. Banks and Octavia Butler are more widely known, but we mustn’t forget authors such as Jewelle Gomez who laid the groundwork for them.
That sounds about right. Ms. Gomez is very much a social activist and produces non-fiction essays on a range of social issues. I would feel comfortable calling The Gilda Stories a womanist text.
Not only do we have to remember her, but knowing her work lets us read Butler, Banks, Due and others differently. I am sure that these authors were familiar with Gomez’s stories and I definitely see Fledgling–Butler’s vampire novel–as being in conversation with The Gilda Stories in significant ways.
LM I do remember Jewell Gomez and you are right, she is not as represented as she should be. Thanks for posting this. I’d like to revisit her work and re-read. Wonderful!
Great post! I’d heard of Jewell Gomez, but I’ve never read her work. And now her writings are being adapted for the stage. That’s fantastic! Reading this, I definitely want to read more 🙂