Black empire

George S. Schuyler, 1895-1977

Book - 2023

"At once a daring, high-stakes science fiction adventure and a strikingly innovative Afrofuturist classic, this controversial and fearlessly political work lays bare the ethical quandaries of exactly how far one should go in the name of justice"--

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Afrofuturist fiction
Science fiction
New York : Penguin Books [2023]
Main Author
George S. Schuyler, 1895-1977 (author)
Other Authors
George S. (George Samuel) Schuyler, 1895-1977 (-)
Item Description
Reprint. Originally published in the Pittsburgh Courier, 1936-1938
Physical Description
xxx, 339 pages ; 20 cm
Includes bibliographical references.
  • Black internationale: story of Black genius against the world
  • Black empire: an imaginative story of a great new civilizationin modern Africa.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Originally serialized between 1936 and 1938 in a newspaper that served Pittsburgh's Black community, these two linked novellas from Schuyler (1895--1977) are indispensable reading for anyone interested in early Afrofuturism. In "The Black Internationale: Story of Black Genius Against the World," journalist Carl Slater reluctantly agrees to serve as secretary to the ruthless Dr. Henry Belsidus, a wealthy Black American nationalist who, by the tale's end, has violently wrested control of Africa from white imperialists. "Black Empire: An Imaginative Story of a Great New Civilization in Modern America" continues the story with Belsidus and his crew of handpicked specialists defending their takeover of the African continent through cunning espionage and the deployment of technology ripped from the pages of the era's science fiction magazines. In both tales, Schuyler, a journalist, steeps his progressive criticism of "white world supremacy" in the palatable popular storytelling conventions of the day, creating rip-roaring yarns with sharp satirical points. The result, though undeniably pulpy, is still searing in its indictment of entrenched racism. (Feb.)

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Review by Library Journal Review

Best known for his provocative 1931 race satire Black No More, Schuyler was a prolific contributor of editorials and serial fiction to the national Black newsweekly The Pittsburgh Courier. A cliff-hanging melodrama of the overthrow of white supremacy by all means necessary, it isn't hard to see why his The Black Internationale and its 1936 sequel Black Empire were both popular in the era of Jim Crow. Ruthless, fanatical Dr. Henry Belsidus is the mastermind of an elaborate scheme to reclaim the African continent and thence achieve global domination by means of futuristic solar energy, hydroponics, and fax machines. Prone to satanic smirks and speechifying, the suave Belsidus is hardly a utopian, unleashing pandemonium via petty thievery, eugenics, death rays, total war, and the eradication of the British upper crust in a concert hall converted into a gas chamber. This moral ambivalence reflects gadfly Schuyler's own deep cynicism but doesn't detract from the lurid, pulpy fun, which includes orgiastic rites, a sexy aviatrix in a golden autogyro, and a trained attack-leopard named Ben. VERDICT A proto-Afrofuturist potboiler poised between Black Panther and the works of Percival Everett, this fascinating glimpse beyond the Harlem Renaissance canon anticipates Black power and Afrocentrist themes.

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