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Although Samuel R. Delany, Jr. has been publishing sci-fi /fantasy since the 1960s and Octavia E. Butler since the 1970s, and both were included in and thus canonized by the Norton Anthology of African American Literature (1999), still only a handful of Black novelists work the field. Not withstanding their canonization, their studied interpolation of race, gender, class, and sexual orientation into their novels, and the potential the genre has for shaping our hypertext, Internet-driven world, this state of affairs still obtains. Nevertheless these are heady times, as the other Black sci-fi novelists such as Jewell Gomez, Stephen Barnes, and Tananarive Due are joined by new energy and talent. The publication of The Salt Roads (2003), the latest novel by Jamaican-born, Toronto-based Nalo Hopkinson, is certainly one of these.
Hopkinson is no stranger to speculative fiction or literary acclaim. Her first two novels, Brown Girl in the Ring (1998) and Midnight Robber (2000), both garnered her numerous honors and distinctions. She has also done much to increase the number of Black writers in the field, as evidenced by her publication of several award-winning anthologies featuring her fiction as well as that of other voices writing in the diaspora. It’s with some irony, then, that she published The Salt Roads, a novel which may have left its sci-fi /fantasy roots behind.