When I began searching for a featured speaker for the Sigma Tau Delta 2019 International Convention in St. Louis, MO, I considered all the possibilities offered by our theme: “Work in Progress.” First, and foremost, the featured speaker would have to be someone incredibly hard-working, with a broad and deep set of publications. Second, the speaker would have to be someone whose work exemplified the whole range of what we do, someone who wrote in multiple genres, who worked collaboratively with other creative people, who taught as well as wrote. Ideally, the person should be someone whose work was recognized and celebrated, an award-winning writer. And since the theme of the convention invites us to consider work in an age of technological innovation, I also thought our writer should be a futurist. And finally, I thought it would be terrific if we could invite a writer whose intellectual and creative horizons were as international as our Society’s.
When I added all these criteria together, one name kept coming up: Nnedi Okorafor (Neh-dee Oh-core-ra-for). Okorafor has published over a dozen novels and shows no indication of slowing down: the Binti and Akata series for young adults; two other stand-alone novels for adults, Lagoon and Who Fears Death; a prequel to Who Fears Death called The Book of Phoenix; the charming children’s book Chicken in the Kitchen. In addition, she has collaborated on the Marvel series Black Panther, published a significant amount of short fiction in Clarkesworld and other Sci-Fi magazines, and is a full-professor (with a PhD in creative writing) at SUNY, Buffalo. And I am certain that I have missed something from her publications. She writes for adults, young adults, and children, and teaches others how to do so. She speaks frequently about magical futurism, about the complexity of African diaspora identity, about Afro-futurism, and about the importance of reading. Her work has been celebrated with Hugo and Nebula awards and with the Wole Soyinka prize. Given her numerous publications it’s impossible to list all the honors that have been showered upon her work.
I don’t think I can offer anything else that will get you as excited about her as what Neil Gaiman, a featured speaker at our 2009 Convention in Minneapolis, MN, has to say: “Nnedi Okorafor writes glorious futures and fabulous fantasies. Her worlds open your mind to new things, always rooted in the red clay of reality.” I invite you all to come to St. Louis in March 2019 to hear Nnedi Okorafor.
The Sigma Tau Delta 2019 International Convention will be held in St. Louis, MO, March 27-29. Look for the 2019 Convention website in May. Other dates to mark are
August 1 Guidelines for Paper and Roundtable Submissions Posted
October 1 Submissions Open
October 29 Submissions Close
January 3, 2018 Registration Opens
And stay tuned for further information on our other 2019 Convention Featured Speaker, author of the 2019 Common Reader Work & Days, Tess Taylor.