Kaeli arrives at the City of the Gods (Pantheon Volume 1)

From the established trunk of Afrofuturism emerges a new branch I call Panfuturism. This isn’t some Ukranian offshoot of avant-garde Futurismo, for what it is worth. Where Afrofuturism is science fiction without the colonial mentality and othering, and reimagined with ancient African traditions with an unapologetic black identity, Panfuturism is also science fiction, but on a global scale, up to and including all our ancient mythologies re-imagined in a post-human future.

There are several prototypical candidates I would include in this new genre:

Lord of Light

Lord of Light: (by Roger Zelazny) in which the mythology of Hinduism and Buddhism are played as straight science fiction. The protagonist Sam (Mahasamatman) rebels against the tyranny of the Hindu gods for the sake of the mortals.

American Gods by Neil Gaiman

American Gods: (by Neil Gaiman) in which the ancient gods of the old world travel to the new world in the Americas with their worshipers, and challenge the new gods of modernity.

Can we retroactively recruit these examples in the new genre, Panfuturism? After all, that is what happened to the works of Samuel Delany and Octavia Butler, now that they are officially part of the afrofuturism canon.

However, if panfuturism ever takes off, it will be due to a candidate that serves as an unbuilt genre : it will read like a deconstruction, but is actually the foundational work itself, perhaps even a genre systematizer that launches the genre.

In order for a work to be the archetypical example of panfuturism, it ought to be free to explore the ramifications of the trope long before it eventually solidifies into some easily identifiable form in the future. It can work as a deconstruction, but since there is no extant trope to deconstruct, then this is a pre-natal concept that is still on its way, for it has yet to reach any form of maturation in pop culture.

Potential Panfuturists might take those early aforementioned works to be unsatisfactory and therefore the new archetype must be more family friendly and frothy, or more self-aware and mature.

If the archetype is to be successful, it may inspire later authors to construct the mythos and the popular clichés of the genre, or deconstruct and parody, in order for the genre to become more popular and acceptable down the road.

Perhaps my graphic novel Pantheon: Heterotopia could qualify? After all, it does depict gods and mortals in a subversive manner, a deconstruction of mythology as a form of storytelling. It is considerably more modern, as in philosophical and existential, than the majority of our ancient mythologies. Despite the enormous scope and brisk plot, the events of Pantheon are actually a backdrop for the real story, which is Kaeli’s personal odyssey about retrieving her memories. Not only does it begin long after the human species has gone extinct, it occurs over the course of several days, and the gods remain the same by the time the first volume ends. The resolution of the story does not come from the end of the immortal-mortal relationship, but from the protagonist coming to grips with her sudden enlightenment at the end.

Conclusion: Then again, perhaps this all-new definition is still within the range of the original “Aspanfut,” circa 1922, since that was defined as experimentalism that made typical declarations of the period such as the “end to art” and place it at the service of revolutionary propaganda.

Published by


...a philosophisticator who utters heresies, thinks theothanatologically and draws like Kirby on steroids.

Leave a Reply