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Isiah Lavender III

Blurred image of the arch used as background for stylistic purposes.
Sterling Goodman Professor of English

As long as I can remember, science fiction and race have been tangled together in my thoughts. My earliest memory involves witnessing Han Solo shoot the green-skinned Greedo first in Star Wars some time during the summer of 1977 while at a drive-in theater with my father. I was three years old, but I can still recall the thrill seeing green skin gave me. Flash-forward forty-three years and this brief moment in time informs my research agenda—depictions of race and ethnicity in science fiction.

So far, I have produced four books, five book chapters, eleven peer-reviewed articles and essays, two review essays, fifteen published book reviews, three encyclopedia entries, and seven media appearances on the subjects of race and racism in science fiction. I also have my fifth and sixth books accepted for publication and under contract respectively in addition to three forthcoming book chapters as well as one more commissioned.

In 2018 I joined the editorial team of the oldest science fiction journal Extrapolation as one of its five editors. I am currently overseeing and co-editing the “Beyond Afrofuturism” special double issue of the journal. Likewise, I am on the board of the University of Wales Press’s New Dimensions in Science Fiction series.

My impending fourth book, Afrofuturism Rising: The Literary Prehistory of a Movement (Ohio State UP, October 2019) extends existing scholarly conversations about afrofuturism to canonical literary texts by African American writers (most from before the twentieth century) that up to now have not traditionally been thought of as SF. The book accomplishes this task through a trans-historical method that rereads these texts as if they were science fiction, highlighting the way that black being in America and around the world has always been an experience of spatial and temporal dislocation and disorientation, not unlike the events felt by the protagonists of genre SF.

My current book projects include the co-edited collections Literary Afrofuturism in the Twenty-first Century and the Routledge Handbook to Literary Futurisms and my monograph-in-progress Critical Race Theory and Science Fiction.


Ph.D., English, University of Iowa, 2004.

M.A., English, Louisiana State University, 1998.

B.A., English (honors), Southern University and A & M College, 1996.

Selected Publications:

Afrofuturism Rising book cover  DisOrienting Planets Cover

Black and Brown Planets Book Cover Race in American Science Fiction Cover

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