There is little evidence to suggest that Schuyler was especially conversant with science-fiction conventions. Although Black Empire appeared during the beginnings of a boom in American pulp science fiction, Schuyler was never closely associated with this school. Schuyler wrote a variety of popular fiction in serial form, mostly romantic melodrama, to supplement his income as a columnist and editor. Schuyler’s aesthetic sensibility is shaped by a number of factors, including 1930’s horror films, back-to-Africa movements, and speculative fiction generally. He had no special attachment to the science-fiction genre and often spoke contemptuously of this genre and its audience.
Black Empire is a fascinating document. Although Schuyler despised racial chauvinism, he was generally sympathetic with any historical movement designed to challenge the imperialistic rule of the European powers. A pan-African conspiracy is something that Schuyler considered worth imagining. Black Empire is representative of the aspirations of many African Americans of the time, who were severely hit by the Depression and were victims of American racism. Black Empire in its original newspaper publication had almost an exclusively black audience that would have appreciated fantasizing about an end to white supremacy and the revitalization of the African continent. This was especially true in the light of black public outrage over the Italian attack...
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