African Spec Fic I’ve Been Enjoying

I’ve been reading a whole bunch (SNAFU), though mostly African Speculative Fiction as it’s Nommo Nomination period. If you’re unsure what Speculative Fiction is, or want to know more about the Nommo awards for African Speculative Fiction, head here: http://www.africansfs.com/ .

For this post, I just want to jump right in. As of writing, the period is pretty much over, and we’ll be moving to the voting stage. You can get updates at the African Speculative Fiction Society’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/africansfs/.

A Spy In Time – Imraan Coovadia (Novel) : A great novel. It’s a mash of time travel and a spy thriller, but written with a ‘literary’ bent. It reads easily and has a number of interesting ideas within. Most interesting to me were time travel and race. Much of the novel grapples with how we might morally judge humanity in the past and present according to our current racial prejudices. It also has an interesting take on the multiverse, and the moral conundrums of racially a charged species such as ours learning how to freely move through the multiverse.

When We Dream We Are Our God – Wole Talabi (Short Story) : Ahhhh, where to begin? I can’t say much about this gem, but if you’re intrigued by AI and the possibility of human hive mind via technology, then this is for you! The story is quite utopian which I really enjoyed that on paper. Since we literally live in dystopian times, it was fresh narratively. In reality though, there’s not enough money on this planet that would make me to willingly hive mind with you crazy fucks! I’ve seen y’all on twitter,  and no thanks! But seriously, read this short story.

The Border Keeper – Kerstin Hall (Novella) : I thoroughly enjoyed this novella. Two of my soft spots are non-traditional fantasy elements and excellent prose. This novella has both. If I were to identify a fantastical trope, it would be heaven vs hell, angels vs demons, but that is more the bare bones. The world building around it is still rather unique, so it doesn’t feel like a run of the mill angels vs demons type universe. The plot twists and turns quite a lot, perhaps too much at times, so I don’t want to give away too much about that. I don’t want to give away too much about the universe either, as the unique world building is part of the fun, so I’ll just leave the official blurb here.

“Vasethe, a man with a troubled past, comes to seek a favor from a woman who is not what she seems, and must enter the nine hundred and ninety-nine realms of Mkalis, the world of spirits, where gods and demons wage endless war.”

The Cure – Tariro Ndoro (Short Story) : So again, all bias here, but this a whimsical little urban fantasy tale that also hit my soft spots. It’s set in South Africa (check!), but its not bogged down with over explanations, and language translations (check!). So the prose is nice and fluid. Shout out to the author and editors for that. It covers some great themes, like being an outcast, living in the city, and every South African’s favorite topic of choice after Coronavirus, crime. I mean, it seems silly at this stage of regularly reading African Spec Fic, but enjoying a fantastical short set in a place like Joburg, still really hits the spot!

Tends to Zero – Wole Talabi : Cheated with this one. Said I wasn’t going to read it, as Wole is already on this list, but curiosity got the better of me. The short is fucking brilliant! It’s a dark emotional tale, with themes of mental turmoil, which is my bread and butter I guess. It also plays with the age old trope in weird fiction of cities, and if they manifested themselves in some supernatural/fantastical form. The city in question here is Lagos. It reminded me a bit of a short I published in the Kalahari Review, also dealing with cities manifesting themselves.

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