For better or for worse, I am often spoken of as the first African-American science fiction writer. But I wear that originary label as uneasily as any writer has worn the label of science fiction itself. Among the ranks of what is often referred to as proto-science fiction, there are a number of black writers. M. P. Shiel, whose Purple Cloud and Lord of the Sea are still read, was a Creole with some African ancestry. Black leader Martin Delany (1812–1885—alas, no relation) wrote his single and highly imaginative novel, still to be found on the shelves of Barnes & Noble today, Blake, or The Huts of America (1857), about an imagined successful slave revolt in Cuba and the American South—which is about as close to an sf-style alternate history novel as you can get. Other black writers whose work certainly borders on science fiction include Sutton E. Griggs and his novel Imperio Imperium (1899) in which an African-American secret society conspires to found a separate black state by taking over Texas, and Edward Johnson, who, following Bellamy’s example in Looking Backward (1888), wrote Light Ahead for the Negro (1904), telling of a black man transported into a socialist United States in the far future.