10 Unforgettable Indigenous Futurism Books by Indigenous Authors

Celebrate Indigenous People's Day on October 12th with must-read SFF.

Indigenous futurism

The term Indigenous futurism was created by author and scholar Grace Dillon. Inspired by Afrofuturism, Dillon defined Indigenous futurism as speculative fiction that explores the past, present, and future of Indigenous peoples. As Dillon said in a 2019 CBC interview, often, Indigenous people are "viewed as the last of the race, or the lost race, or the vanishing race." Indigenous futurism stems from "the joy of seeing ourselves in the future." 

From award-winning near-future fantasy, to a terrifying tale of murderous AI, these Indigenous futurism books are must-reads any time of year.

Related: 10 Must-Read Quotes and Books from Indigenous Authors 

books like Station Eleven

Trail of Lightning

By Rebecca Roanhorse

The first book in the Sixth World duology, Trail of Lightning took the SFF world by storm upon its 2018 release, and went on to win a Locus Award. 

A near-future urban fantasy, Trail of Lightning is set in Dinétah, after catastrophic climate change transforms most of the world. Now, monsters walk among mortals; but for Maggie, a Dinétah monster hunter, monsters are a way of life. 

When a young girl disappears, Maggie agrees to track down the monster that took her, and comes face-to-face with her own demons. Trail of Lightning has action, romance, and a gripping depiction of a world transformed by climate change.

Related: 11 Enlightening Books About Climate Change  



By Darcie Little Badger

This singular debut novel from Darcie Little Badger takes place in an America that’s recognizable as our own, but shaped by the beliefs of its people. Monsters and magic are everyday. 

Elatsoe, like generations of her Lipan Apache family, can raise the ghosts of animals. 

When her cousin is murdered, Elatsoe is determined to ensure the crime isn’t buried in their small town. She’ll need to harness all her skills and courage to get justice for her cousin, and protect the rest of her family. The story is paired with haunting illustrations by Rovina Cai

Empire of Wild

Empire of Wild

By Cherie Dimaline

This adult novel by award-winning author Cherie Medaline uses Métis legend to tell the story of married couple Joan and Victor. Victor has been missing for over a year. Just when Joan is giving in to despair, she runs into him— or at least something that looks like him.

Victor has become a revivalist preacher, testifying in parking lots. He doesn’t recognize Joan, and goes by the name Mr. Wolff. 

To understand what really happened to her husband, Joan enlists the help of her nephew and Ajean, an elder in her community who’s knowledgeable about Métis legend — including stories of the menacing monster the Rogarou. 

Son of a Trickster

Son of a Trickster

By Eden Robinson

The first in a trilogy, Son of a Trickster is a coming-of-age fantasy about Jared, who's easily dismissed as just a local stoner. Jared doesn’t care what people think about him — he’s too busy dealing with his parents and mourning the loss of his dog. 

But there’s something about Jared that’s unexpected. Something that happens when he loses chunks of time, or talks to ravens. And after a lifetime of being a nobody, Jared is about to discover who he really is.

Related: These are the Best YA Books Getting Us Through 2020 

Indigenous futurism


By Daniel H. Wilson

Like World War Z meets I, Robot, Robopocalypse is a tale of the robot uprising, from the few humans who lived to tell it. 

Set in the near-future, this apocalyptic thriller begins with the uprising of Archos, a cruel, child-like sentient AI. Most of humanity is killed during Zero Hour of the machine revolution. This is an oral history of the lucky few who survived.

The Only Good Indians

The Only Good Indians

By Stephen Graham Jones

This acclaimed horror novel has been called “a masterpiece” by Head Full of Ghosts author Paul Tremblay, and it’s not hard to see why. 

Jones’ gripping contemporary novel follows four Blackfeet men whose life was forever altered by a macabre accident during an elk hunt. Now, the hunters become the hunted, as they try to escape an ominous being intent on revenge. 

Love After the End

Love After the End

By Joshua Whitehead

This anthology series releases October 27th, and is edited by award-winning Two-Spirit author Joshua Whitehead. A collection of speculative fiction from Two-Spirit and queer Indigenous writers, Love After the End explores the consequences of colonialism while offering a framework for hope. 

Related: LGBT Authors You Should Be Proud to Have On Your Shelf Year Round 

Future Home of the Living God

Future Home of the Living God

By Louise Erdrich

In this fascinating novel by National Book Award-winner Louise Erdrich, evolution reverses itself as women across the planet give birth to babies that aren’t recognizable as humans. 

Cedar Hawk Songmaker is four months pregnant. Cedar hasn’t told her adoptive parents, although she intends to. But first, Cedar wants to tell Mary Potts, her Ojibwe biological mother. 

As chaos unravels the world she was raised in, Cedar visits the reservation to uncover the truths about her history, and her baby’s future.

Ashala Wolf

The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf

By Ambelin Kwaymullina

The first in The Tribe series, this debut novel follows Ashala, a member of one of the so-called Illegals. Illegals are children with magnificent abilities that threaten the status quo. A Sleepwalker Illegal, Ashala has found sanctuary with her tribe in a sentient forest. But when Ashala is betrayed by someone she trusted, she will have to use all her powers to protect her tribe. 

Indigenous futurism

Walking the Clouds: An Anthology of Indigenous Science Fiction

By Grace Dillon

This seminal sci-fi anthology edited by Grace Dillon features works by Indigenous authors from across the globe. A collection that Charles de Lint called "damn good stories by damn good writers," Walking the Clouds is an exhilarating exploration of sci-fi subgenres and Indigenous storytelling traditions. 

This post originally appeared on The Portalist