A-Z alphabet lists are handy ways to get to know new things. In our case, that means discovering new books and their authors. Now, I’ve always said SFF is my #1 favorite genre. It’s certainly the one I’ve loved the most ever since I was a child. As usual, this used to be a predominantly white genre though, and it wasn’t until fairly recently that more and more authors of color have been widely published and marketed to bigger audiences. So it used to be harder if not impossible to do a list like this — an A-Z alphabet of SFF authors of color.
Honestly, I can’t imagine being able to write an A-Z alphabet of SFF authors of color like this 10 years ago. But it gives me hope. It shows me that the publishing industry is capable of change. And it makes me hope that they can do even better to share and uplift diverse voices.
Why It Matters
There’s a number of reasons why posts like these are important. Like I said, they allow you to read new authors you might not have been aware of. Besides, it lets you have a sort of masterlist in one place. Instead of having to do a deep dive into Google. Plus, they also show you that you can diversify your bookshelves as a fan of SFF — and A-Z alphabet lists in particular work as an excellent starting point to do it. Another reason why we need posts like this is that more people get to support authors of color, which tells the industry that their voices matter to us and that we want to keep reading them.
I could go on and on, but let me tell you one of my favorite reasons before we switch tracks. Which is that there are so many rich, moving, and just plain fun SFF stories by authors of color out there that might just change your life — and lists like these can be the reason you read them in the first place.
I promise this is the last thing I’ll mention before jumping into the A-Z list — I decided to include authors from both the adult and YA categories so that more people can find a book or an author that appeals to them. It’s also important to mention that this list is by no means complete or comprehensive. There are many more SFF authors of color out there to fill more than a couple of these alphabets.
But without further ado, let’s look at this A-Z alphabet of SFF authors of color!
An A-Z of SFF Authors of Color
A- Anna-Marie McLemore
Let’s kick off this alphabet of SFF authors of color with Anna-Marie McLemore! They’re a very prolific YA author who mostly writes queer fantasy books like Lakelore or When the Moon Was Ours. McLemore is often inspired by fairy tales too, with books like Blanca & Roja (a retelling of Snow White) or The Mirror Season, which reimagines the story of The Snow Queen. On top of that, their short fiction has appeared in many anthologies, like Reclaim the Stars or A Universe of Wishes.
If you’re new to their books and don’t know where to begin I’d recommend going for Lakelore. The story follows two nonbinary teens who discover a new magical world underneath a lake.
B- Bethany C. Morrow
Next comes Bethany C. Morrow, who mostly writes SFF but has delved into other genres too. Her most popular book is by far the YA fantasy A Song Below Water, which was followed by a book set in the same world titled A Chorus Rises. Morrow also wrote a great sci-fi novella named Mem, in which she explores a world where memories can be extracted and turned into people. Her catalog may not be as long as other authors on this list — yet — but I for one can’t wait to see what she writes next!
If you’re unfamiliar with Bethany C. Morrow’s stories, I would definitely start with A Song Below Water. The story follows a girl who must hide she’s a siren, until a famous siren celebrity is murdered and her whole world is turned upside down.
C- Cherie Dimaline
Cherie Dimaline writes fantasy and sci-fi stories for both adult and YA audiences. She has penned several dystopias, like Hunting the Stars and The Marrow Thieves — which is actually her most popular novel! Dimaline has also written several paranormal fantasy books like Funeral Songs for Dying Girls, a story full of ghosts that explores the topic of identity. She even has a remix of The Secret Garden titled Into the Bright Open coming out later this year (September 5)!
But if you want a place to start reading Dimaline’s books, I’d go with VenCo. This is an adult fantasy novel that follows two witches on the hunt for a magical spoon that will usher a new era of magic into the world.
D- Daniel H. Wilson
Moving on to Daniel H. Wilson, who writes the most thrilling sci-fi novels! His best known book is definitely Robopocalypse, which has a classic plot of robots taking over the world. But he’s also written several standalones like Amped or The Clockwork Dynasty. Plus, Wilson wrote The Andromeda Evolution, which can be read as a standalone but is actually a sequel to one of Michael Crichton’s own novels! Oh, and did I mention he wrote the Earth 2: World’s End series for DC Comics?
A good place to start reading Wilson’s books is The Andromeda Evolution, which follows a team of researchers who are trying to contain the latest strain of an extraterrestrial microbe that can take over the world.
E- Elizabeth Lim
Next, Elizabeth Lim has a wonderful assortment of YA fantasy novels under her belt. Plus, she often takes inspiration from legends and fairy tales. Six Crimson Cranes for example, is a retelling of The Wild Swans tale. It’s also her most popular novel! Lim is also the author of at least three of the Twisted Tales books. They reimagine Disney’s classic stories with a darker twist! Among them is Reflection, which sends Mulan on an adventure to the underworld to find Captain Shang’s spirit.
I’d recommend starting with Spin the Dawn, though. It follows a seamstress who is involved in a cutthroat competition to become the next imperial tailor.
F- Fonda Lee
Next in this alphabet of SFF authors of color is Fonda Lee! She wrote the amazing Green Bone trilogy that begins with Jade City and puts a magical twist to a Godfather-esque mafia story. She also has a couple of YA sci-fi novels under her belt, including Zeroboxer and Exo. Her short stories have been featured in a couple of anthologies like Where the Stars Rise.
Although very different from her other works, I think her latest novella Untethered Sky is a great place to start reading Fonda Lee’s books. The story follows a woman seeking revenge from the creatures who killed her family.
G- Gabriela Romero Lacruz
I also wanted to add some debut authors to this list because they’ve written some amazing books and I think their upcoming stories will be just as incredible. One of them is Gabriela Romero Lacruz. Her adult fantasy novel The Sun and the Void (July 25) is right around the corner! The story follows two girls named Reina and Eva who become entangled with deities and ancient magic in a quest to find where they belong.
H- Hafsah Faizal
Next, Hafsah Faizal is an incredible YA author! She writes epic fantasy novels, and her most popular book is her debut novel We Hunt the Flame. It’s the first part in a duology that follows Zafira the Hunter, who goes on several epic quests in order to save her kingdom. Faizal has also participated in several anthologies like Eternally Yours and The Grimoire of Grave Fates. Her next novel, A Tempest of Tea, will drop in early 2024. I can’t wait to read it!
Of course, the best place to start reading Hafsah Faizal’s stories is through her duology.
I- Isabel Ibañez
Isabel Ibañez writes the most magical YA fantasy novels. It all began with Woven in Moonlight, a book that incorporates Bolivian history to tell the story of a Condesa who is trying to dethrone the usurper. This book also spawned a sort of spin-off titled Written in Starlight. Ibañez also participated in the Reclaim the Stars anthology, which features a wide variety of Latine authors. Her next novel, What the River Knows, will be published later this year (November 14).
If you’ve never read Isabel’s books before, her standalone novel Together We Burn is absolutely the right choice! The story follows a flamenco dancer who is tasked with defending her father’s arena, which leads her to befriend a very powerful enemy.
J- Justina Ireland
Moving on to Justina Ireland, the author of many fantasy and sci-fi novels! Ireland’s catalog is pretty impressive. She has written plenty of books from the Star Wars The High Republic canon like Out of Shadows. She also contributed to the upcoming short story collection Tales of Light and Life (September 5) as well as the already published Starlight Stories. Star Wars universe aside, she has a new YA fantasy novel co-written with Tessa Gratton titled Chaos & Flame. But what she’s best known for is her incredible YA historical fantasy novels like Rust in the Root!
Speaking of which, if you’ve never read Justina Ireland before I’d definitely start with her most popular book. It’s a brilliant historical fantasy and horror mix titled Dread Nation, and it imagines a world full of zombies and a girl who is trained to fight them.
K- Ken Liu
Ever heard of silkpunk? Well, it’s a fantasy term coined by Ken Liu! He used it to describe the aesthetic of his popular adult fantasy novel The Grace of Kings, the book that kickstarts his epic Dandelion Dynasty Series. Ken Liu is also an incredible translator. Thanks to him we have books like The Three-Body Problem and Vagabonds available in English. Notably, he has written dozens of SFF short stories that have been published in different magazines and anthologies — but Liu also has his own short story collections.
I’d actually recommend you start reading his work with one of them, called The Paper Menagerie. It’s his first collection, and it is made up of 15 award-winning stories that tackle themes of history, family, and identity.
L- Leslye Penelope (L. Penelope)
L. Penelope, also known as Leslye Penelope, is a great adult fantasy author. She often writes fantasy romance books like Song of Blood & Stone, which started her popular high fantasy series titled Earthsinger Chronicles. Penelope has also written quite a few paranormal romances like Angelborn or The Cupid Mixup. And her shorter fiction has appeared in anthologies like Sycorax’s Daughters and Where the Veil is Thin.
But if you’ve never read L. Penelope’s books, I’d recommend starting with the only one she has published under the name Leslye Penelope so far. It’s called The Monsters We Defy, and it follows a woman with powers who’s about to pull off one hell of a heist.
M- Megan Giddings
Megan Giddings is a much newer author. She only has a couple of novels published so far. But both of them are dark and powerful dystopias that you won’t be able to put down! The most recent one is The Women Could Fly, which is set in a world in which women are closely monitored and even burned at the stake. It’s a brilliant book, although I’d recommend you start with her other novel: Lakewood. This one is all about medical experiments and the horrors that have been inflicted on Black bodies throughout history in the name of science.
N- Nnedi Okorafor
Nnedi Okorafor writes the most beautiful stories and she’s super prolific, too! You wouldn’t believe how many books she has penned (over a dozen). Her YA novel Akata Witch is pretty remarkable. As are her standalones Remote Control, Lagoon, and Noor. All of which mix elements from both sci-fi and fantasy. Okorafor is also the author of Marvel’s limited comic series Shuri. She even wrote a supernatural fantasy book with a post-apocalyptic setting called Who Fears Death.
There are plenty of amazing books in Nnedi Okorafor’s catalog, but if you’re new to her fiction, I would definitely go with her most popular book! Binti kicks off an incredible trilogy of novellas that follow a girls’ journey from her home to a distant university — that is interrupted by the threat of war.
O- Olivie Blake
Next is Olivie Blake, an author who gained so much popularity for her independently published SFF novels that she was picked up by a traditional publisher! It all began with the viral novel The Atlas Six, the first book in her dark academia fantasy series. But since then, Blake has also traditionally published some of her standalones like One for My Enemy. Her short fiction will also be featured in two upcoming anthologies: From a Certain Point of View: Return of the Jedi (August 29) and In These Hallowed Halls (September 12).
Now that it’s been traditionally published too, I’d start reading Olivie Blake with her first ever novel: Masters of Death. It’s a paranormal fantasy romance that follows a real estate agent who is also a vampire. Her next job? To sell a haunted house!
P- P. Djèlí Clark
Moving on to P. Djèlí Clark, who usually writes shorter but unputdownable novellas that toe the line between horror, sci-fi, and fantasy! Two great examples of that are Ring Shout, which reimagines a world in which Klan members are literal demons; and The Black God’s Drums. The latter follows a girl with powers derived from the African orisha who is trying to leave New Orleans.
Despite all of his amazing stories, I’d actually start reading Clark’s catalog with A Dead Djinn in Cairo. It’s the first novella in the Dead Djinn universe, which is set in an alternate steampunk Egypt. I find this a great place to start since it’s a direct route to his first full-length novel: A Master of Djinn. Of course you can always read the novel first, but the three prequel novellas are absolutely worth it!
Q- Quinton Li
Now let’s take a look at another debut author. Quinton Li wrote the recently released Tell Me How It Ends. It’s a cozy YA fantasy perfect for fans of all things witchy with a side of romance! The story follows Iris, who despite her clairvoyant gifts, might just be kicked out of the family business. Unless she manages to earn a thousand coins and prove her worth, she’ll have to leave her family. Iris’s only hope lies in her latest job: to infiltrate the royal prison and help someone escape.
R- Rebecca Roanhorse
The next person in this alphabet of SFF authors of color is none other than Rebecca Roanhorse! She has written plenty of novels, and even worked with Marvel as the writer of the Phoenix Song: Echo series. Roanhorse also wrote Resistance Reborn, one of the novels published as prequels to the latest batch of Star Wars movies. Plus, she has her own book series too. There’s Trail of Lightning, the first book in The Sixth World set in a post-apocalyptic world full of deities and monsters. There’s also Black Sun, the first fantasy novel in Between Earth and Sky, which is full of political intrigue and magic.
Both series are incredible, but I think the best place to start reading Roanhorse’s novels is her standalone Tread of Angels! This dark fantasy book follows a woman who must defend her sister, who was accused of murdering a member of the town’s high class.
S- Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Silvia Moreno-Garcia is the author of multiple SFF novels inspired by Mexican culture and history. She’s an author who only writes standalones, and all of them are pretty incredible! From the sci-fi novella Prime Meridian to her super popular Mexican Gothic, she’s known to jump across genres and never write the same thing twice. Signal to Noise, for example, gives music a magical twist. Certain Dark Things reimagines a world in which vampires are real. There’s also The Daughter of Doctor Moreau, a retelling of H.G. Wells’s classic.
Out of her entire catalog though, I’d definitely start with Gods of Jade and Shadow! This historical fantasy follows a young woman on an epic quest to help a Mayan god of death recover his throne.
T- Tasha Suri
Tasha Suri is a great high fantasy writer who is constantly inspired by the history and epics of India to write her novels. Her catalog isn’t as extensive yet, but it is impressive nonetheless. She has written mainly two series: The Burning Kingdoms and The Books of Ambha. The former starts with The Jasmine Throne, and it follows a princess and a maidservant who must band together to change the fate of their empire. The latter begins with Empire of Sand, and because it’s her first novel, I think this is the place to start reading Suri’s books! The story follows a powerful woman who must fight against the empire and the cruel agenda they have for her.
U- Un-su Kim
So Un-su Kim writes across genres, and not all of his fiction has been translated from Korean. But one of his short story collections that has been translated is an absolute speculative gem, so of course I had to include it! This collection is called The Cabinet, and it follows different stories that are all “pulled” from the same fictitious Cabinet #13. From men with trees growing out of them, to surgically removed memoires. It’s wonderful, it’s strange, and let’s just hope we get another collection like this from the author soon!
V- Victor LaValle
Moving on to an author who mostly writes a very fantastical kind of horror. None other than Victor LaValle! His stories include The Ballad of Black Tom, which reimagines a classic Lovecraft story. There’s also Big Machine, about a group of paranormal investigators. Equally good but not as popular are LaValle’s comics! Starting with Victor LaValle’s Destroyer, a speculative story that puts Frankenstein in a more modern setting. There’s also Eve, a dystopian YA comic series that follows its main character on a world-saving quest.
But if I had to choose a place to begin reading Victor LaValle I would go for The Changeling! It’s a fantasy horror story that follows a man who is trying to find his missing wife.
W- Wesley Chu
Wesley Chu is the underrated author of several fantasy and sci-fi series. Starting with his YA fiction, which begins with The Rise of Io and follows a human and an alien teaming up to solve a mystery. There’s also Time Salvager, an adult sci-fi novel that follows two time traveling fugitives. Chu is also the author of the slightly more popular The Lives of Tao. This novel puts a nice spin on the first-contact trope, putting aliens inside the minds of humans and making them work together.
There are plenty of novels to choose from Wesley Chu’s catalog, but I would definitely start with the last book he published! The Art of Prophecy is an epic martial arts kind of fantasy in which a chosen hero is destined to defeat the cruel god-king who sits on the throne.
X- Xiran Jay Zhao
Xiran Jay Zhao is another relatively new author. They have two published novels, one of which is middle grade. But you’ve probably heard about the other one, since it’s the NYT #1 bestseller Iron Widow! This is a sci-fi/fantasy YA novel that’s inspired by real historical figures like empress Wu Zetian. Add to that these incredible mecha fights and a kickass main character who wants revenge against the patriarchy, and you get this novel. Of course, it’s the best place to start reading Zhao’s work. Or mindlessly reread, since the sequel Heavenly Tyrant won’t drop until April 2024.
Y- Yoon Ha Lee
Next on this list is sci-fi author Yoon Ha Lee! He has written several incredible novels, starting with Ninefox Gambit, which is the first book in The Machineries of Empire series. It’s a story about two reluctant allies who must work together in order to take over an enemy fortress. Speaking of this series, Lee also wrote a collection of short stories titled Hexarchate Stories which is set in the same universe. Yoon Ha Lee is also the author of several short stories, some of which are published online. But he does have a beautiful collection titled Conservation of Shadows.
Lee has an incredible sci-fi/fantasy standalone titled Phoenix Extravagant — the best place to start reading his books! The story follows a rebellious kid named Jebi, who steals the ministry’s magical dragon in order to fight back.
Z- Zoraida Córdova
Last but certainly not least comes Zoraida Córdova! She’s a very prolific fantasy author who writes for both adult and YA audiences. Her catalog includes some Star Wars books like Convergence and A Crash of Fate. Then there are her own book series including Labyrinth Lost (from Brooklyn Brujas), Incendiary (from Hollow Crown) and The Vicious Deep from the eponymous series. She has also participated in several anthologies like Vampires Never Get Old and the upcoming Mermaids Never Drown (September 26).
But I still think that standalones are better when trying to approach a new author. Which is why I say The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina is the best place to start reading her books! The story follows a family with magic who is reeling from their matriarch’s loss, which leads them to try to uncover as much about their history as they can.
Looking for more alphabets? We also have one full of queer books! Or for more posts on authors of color you can dive into our list of Black sci-fi authors, Asian-inspired fantasy novels, or general SFF books by Black authors as well.