Afrofuturist Nnedi Okorafor to speak on campus


If you have not heard of Nnedi Okorafor before, that may soon change.


The Nigerian-American writer of Afrofuturistic science fiction and fantasy penned several issues of Black Panther comics, and her novel “Who Fears Death” is being turned into a television series for HBO by none other than George R.R. Martin, author of “Game of Thrones.”


On March 19, Okorafor will speak at 7:30 p.m. in the Bromeley Family Theater in Blaisdell Hall. The presentation, which is the keynote event of the campus's Women's History Month Celebration, is free and open to the public.


Fantasy fiction pioneer Ursula K. LeGuin said of Okorafor, “There's more vivid imagination in a page of Nnedi Okorafor's work than in whole volumes of ordinary fantasy epics.”


In addition to the award-winning “Who Fears Death,” she is known for her “Binti” trilogy about a young woman who is the first of her people ever chosen to attend a select university, which happens to be on a faraway planet. In her travels, she unites warring factions and makes friends of enemies whom she brings back to Earth with her. The third installment in the series was released earlier this year.


Last year, Okorafor was chosen to contribute to Random House's series “Star Wars: From a Certain Point of View,” stories told from the perspective of minor characters in the saga.


Also in 2017, Entertainment Weekly selected her for its list of “27 Female Authors Who Rule Sci-Fi and Fantasy Now.”


Okorafor writes African-based science fiction, fantasy and magical realism for children, young adults and adults. Other books include “The Book of Phoenix,” an Arthur C. Clark Award finalist; the children's book “Chicken in the Kitchen,” the Akata series, “Lagoon,” and more.


Dr. Nancy McCabe, professor of writing and director of the writing program at Pitt-Bradford, spoke about why she invited Okorafor to speak on campus.


“My students are very interested in science fiction and fantasy, and I've long wanted to bring someone in who writes in those genres. Science fiction has not traditionally been a welcoming field for women writers, nor has it been welcoming to nonwhite writers, and Nnedi Okorafor has smashed a lot of barriers and brought a new cultural perspective to science fiction.”


McCabe, Karen Bell and Dr. Tracee Howell used Okorafor's works as part of writing and literature classes being taught on campus this year.


Okorafor teaches at the University at Buffalo, N.Y., where she is a full professor. Her visit is co-sponsored by Spectrum, the Pitt-Bradford writing program and the Gender, Sexuality and Women's Studies program.