The African Speculative Fiction StoryBundle curated by Ivor W. Hartmann

Hey everyone! Here’s a press release regarding the latest African Speculative Fiction bundle curated by Ivor Hartmann. Its pretty much a great list of Speculative Fiction by Africans at a steal. I own four of these works, and regularly read Omenana, so I highly recommend it, especially at the price. You can get the rest of the information below, from a press release provided by Ivor himself. Also, proceeds go to the hardworking folk at the African Speculative Fiction Society!

 

All Covers Large

The African Speculative Fiction StoryBundle curated by Ivor W. Hartmann

Welcome to the African Speculative Fiction Bundle!

This is the most comprehensive collection of African speculative fiction authors ever assembled. With the complete bundle containing nearly 100 authors and over 145 works it stands both as an excellent introduction to the rapidly evolving canon of African SF and a unique one-time collection of their works. From established stars you might know such as Nnedi Okorafor, Tade Thompson, and Sarah Lotz, to upcomers like Wole Talabi, Chinelo Onwualu, Nerine Dorman, Dilman Dila, and so many more.

The bundle starts in 2012 with the first AfroSF and goes right through to 2020 with the first special edition anthology from Omenana magazine, providing a healthy cross-section of African SF over eight years and in some cases the development of individual authors from their first publication onwards. And it is precisely for these reasons I have selected anthologies over novels in this inaugural bundle so as to better represent the full scale of African SF, though you will find too the bonus individual collections Kabu Kabu by Nnedi Okorafor and A Killing in the Sun by Dilman Dila.

The road to this bundle has been paved by the work of countless African writers, editors, publishers, and most importantly readers. For too long was the African experience, imagination, and insight, held captive and until relatively recently only glimpsed through the thick lens of other cultures and their inherent biases. In a big way this is what the new wave of African Speculative Fiction is about: telling our own stories, revealing our vibrant cultures from within, sharing our unique perspectives, and writing ourselves into futures that for so long seemed to spell our doom by virtue of our absence.

Indeed, our progress over just the last eight years has been phenomenal. We have not only won international awards like Arthur C. Clarke, World Fantasy, and Nebula, etc., but gone on to create our own like the Nommos now in its fourth year, the SSDA Award now in its eight year. African publishers such as Jalada Africa, Seven Hills Media, StoryTime, Short Story Day Africa, DADA books, Pan African Publishers, and Black Letter Media, all of whom contributed to make this bundle, have actively encouraged and published more speculative fiction than ever before, and we have only just begun.

In this vein, the charity giving chosen for this bundle is the African Speculative Fiction Society, to help with the tireless unpaid work of this collective NPO. The ASFS was formed in 2016 and primarily at present is focused on the Nommo awards. The awards are nominated and voted upon by ASFS members for excellence in four Speculative Fiction categories. The importance of these independent awards and the ASFS as a part of building a robust and diverse homegrown African SF canon cannot be overstated nor underestimated.

Thank you for taking the time to read this, and I trust you will enjoy all the works in this bundle as much as we did in writing and publishing them for you. I hope you will be introduced to new authors to look out for, new ideas about the world from our perspectives, and see an inclusive future that proves we are so much stronger together than we can ever be apart, especially in these trying times and the times still ahead.

A massive big thanks goes out to all the authors, editors, and publishers, who made this possible, and especially Jason Chen of Storybundle for giving us this chance to present our works to you. – Ivor W. Hartmann

* * *

For StoryBundle, you decide what price you want to pay. For $5 (or more, if you’re feeling generous), you’ll get the basic bundle of four books in any ebook format—WORLDWIDE.

 

  • AfroSFv1 edited by Ivor W. Hartmann
  • Lagos_2060 edited by Ayodele Arigbabu
  • Terra Incognita by Nerine Dorman
  • Jalada 2: AfroFuture(s) by Jalada Africa

 

 

If you pay at least the bonus price of just $15, you get all four of the regular books, plus six more more books, for a total of ten! That’s a total of five StoryBundle exclusives!

 

  • A Killing in the Sun by Dilman Dila
  • Kabu-Kabu Stories by Nnedi Okorafor
  • AfroSFv2 edited by Ivor W. Hartmann
  • AfroSFv3 edited by Ivor W. Hartmann
  • Omenana to Infinity by Omenana
  • Imagine Africa 500 edited by Billy Kahora

 

 

This bundle is available only for a limited time via http://www.storybundle.com. It allows easy reading on computers, smartphones, and tablets as well as Kindle and other ereaders via file transfer, email, and other methods. You get multiple DRM-free formats (.epub, .mobi) for all books!

It’s also super easy to give the gift of reading with StoryBundle, thanks to our gift cards – which allow you to send someone a code that they can redeem for any future StoryBundle bundle – and timed delivery, which allows you to control exactly when your recipient will get the gift of StoryBundle.

Why StoryBundle? Here are just a few benefits StoryBundle provides.

  • Get quality reads: We’ve chosen works from excellent authors to bundle together in one convenient package.
  • Pay what you want (minimum $5): You decide how much these fantastic books are worth. If you can only spare a little, that’s fine! You’ll still get access to a batch of exceptional titles.
  • Support authors who support DRM-free books: StoryBundle is a platform for authors to get exposure for their works, both for the titles featured in the bundle and for the rest of their catalog. Supporting authors who let you read their books on any device you want—restriction free—will show everyone there’s nothing wrong with ditching DRM.
  • Give to worthy causes: Bundle buyers have a chance to donate a portion of their proceeds to the African Speculative Fiction Society!
  • Receive extra books: If you beat the bonus price, you’ll get the bonus books!

StoryBundle was created to give a platform for independent authors to showcase their work, and a source of quality titles for thirsty readers. StoryBundle works with authors to create bundles of ebooks that can be purchased by readers at their desired price. Before starting StoryBundle, Founder Jason Chen covered technology and software as an editor for Gizmodo.com and Lifehacker.com.

For more information, visit our website at storybundle.com, tweet us at @storybundle and like us on Facebook. For press inquiries, please email press@storybundle.com.

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.

The Pop-Intellectual

It has recently occurred to me that it may be time to further our distinctions of the types of intellectuals, or free-thinkers if you prefer *eyeroll*, that exist in today’s society. I believe we can now make three distinctions.

The Intellectual

Gazing into the intellectual abyss.

They tend to look like this dude and hang around libraries and university campuses. They tend to be gathering “data” in “the field” a lot. Often they’re professors or work at non-profit think tanks and research institutions. They like writing books and reeeeeeeealy long articles about reeeeeeally complex stuff and things, that most people don’t seem to care about, even though they probably should. They can be black too. They can be female as well. They can be non-binary. They tend not to have a lot of likes and and  followers, because, well, you don’t really get lots of likes for being an intellectual, and trying to further human thought. In fact, you generally get told you’re being negative, and should try some tummy tea, or re-aligning your chakras.

The Pseudo-Intellectual

I like to lump myself in here somewhere. Along with the knowledgeable artist , the investigative journalist, the weirdo activist at all the think tank events, who also raps, but also paints, and does community work in Mitchells Plain regularly.

Seeing as I’m making this up as I go, I should note here that when I define this, I’m not using the “Pseudo” part as an insult. It’s just to separate those who dabble in intellectualism (and dabble well), but don’t pursue it full time. You know, you’re Immortal Technique types. You’re highbrow creatives. People who engage with intellectualism regularly but don’t necessarily pursue it as a a career, and probably spend a little less time on campus and more on the internet selling you healthy super-foods, because they studied Botany in a past life or something. People in the economy of likes and followers, but not necessary down with it. People who write philosophical novels and stuff. That kind of thing.

Tariq’s new EP is a banger, and full of intellectual stuff and things.

The Pop-Intellectual

This is the designation I believe we used to give to the Pseudo-Intellectual, but the internet has given us a new breed of super super super mutant pseudo intellectuals, whom we shall refer to as Pop-Intellectuals.

The oh so desperate to be a free-thinker that I absorb everything pop culture tells me because I actually believe pop icons are intellectuals and/or free thinkers. Free thought can only come from those who are rich and famous. A professional philosopher could never have a free thought worth my time, but I better check Billboard’s No.1 pop track for my next dose of Epistemology.

The fake outragers. The, this deep issue is trending now, I better jump on it, and freak out on the internet quick, so I can get likes and more followers (okay fine, we all do that from time to time hehe).

The Pop-Intellectual in their natural habitat. Notice everything around them burns while they remain unperturbed. This is the blind confidence of one with complete faith in their favorite pop-icon, who has confirmed to them that everything is indeed, fine. No further research is required into the ramifications of being on fire if your pop-icon has confirmed to you that fire is harmless.

He Who Should Not Be Named and his cult following.  The type to  gleefully inform you that you can separate art from the artist, and think they’ve blown your mind. Really, I mean really? Wow I certainly never knew that, and I definitely don’t have my own mind, and my own thoughts that dictate when I will and will not decide to exercise my right to separate art from the artist. Oh yes I better listen to that thing you’re trying to force me to listen to, because, OMG, I can separate art from the artist. Amazing.

The Pop-Intellectual doesn’t seem to like books a lot, or the library, or even googling anything they talk about. This is because they apply no rigor to their alleged intellectualism. I mean, who needs research when celebrities are experts on every single topic that ever existed, like ever, since, like, the beginning of all time when the earth was flat and stuff.

They never dig their heels in on a single issue and see it through. They seem to believe they can solve complex issues like racism and sexism, by not going to Starbucks for a couple of days. They’re lazy about real issues. They need them to go away fast, so they can go back to posting about how woke they are, and throw in a misquote of a philosopher like a Ayn Rand (seriously…ewww, don’t abuse philosophy for your narcissism, it’s gross man).

As soon as their favorite pop-icon or corporation issues a weak apology, or new album, all is well, and justice has been restored to world. They take economic advice from famous fashion models. They take medical advice from reality stars. They always have the loudest mouth, but their utterings are void of substance. They’re, as Greg Puciato would say: a mouth without a heart – an action without meaning.

 

Kratos EP

“Proselytes! I present to thee the Kratos EP for listening pleasure. Obsidian Jones recommends Shifting The Boulder or Not Yet Dead for the novice listener. For those with experience in composition, arrangement, conducting and the innate ability to play the Recorder and Triangle in five-part harmony he suggests the original sin and title track, Kratos. Go forth and scalp thy neighbor!” – The Mad Drummer

 

Notes From A Presentation at The Luthuli Institute For Peace and Development

 

On Thursday 22 March 2018, The Albert and Nokukhanya Luthuli Peace and Development Institute launched, and held its first colloquium.  The topic of the colloquium was, Understanding The Culture of Violence as an Impediment to Development: Peace and Development as The Foundations For South Africa’s Future Advancement.

I was asked to do a presentation based on an article I published in The Thinker last year. You can find the article here: http://www.thethinker.co.za/resources/72%20THINKER.pdf. It’s called South Africa: A History of Cultural Violence.

The presentation and event in general went very well. It was empowering to interact and communicate with individuals of various ages and affiliations who share some common ideas and understanding.

Some difficult topics were discussed openly; many South Africans refuse to even accept, let alone even discuss some of these issues,  especially without degrading to name calling and insults.

Here are some things that were openly acknowledged , and discussed.

  • South Africa is a violent society. Both physically and structurally.
  • South African violence runs very deep historically and structurally.
  • The above point means there are no easy solutions to South African violence. Throwing police, PMCs, and military at everything just won’t cut it.
  • South Africa is an extremely racist, sexist, and classist society.
  • South African violence won’t go away if the above three issues, along with their nasty cousin inequality, are not meaningfully dealt with.
  • As Government and the Private Sector tend to fluctuate in their effectiveness, citizens likely need to take some matters into their own hands.
  • One such was is reaching out and interacting with Civil Society (we have various NGOs and activist groups) to heal South African society.
  • Strong Civil Society institutes may provide some kind of buffer against Government and Private Sector failure.
  • South Africans as a whole need to educate themselves more on peace studies, as well as learn how other societies with violent pasts, have instigated strong measures to ensure the cycle of violence and generational trauma does not ensue perpetually. Hint: there’s a reason America still has Nazis, while Germany does not. It’s pretty much because the Germans used their brains, and made Nazism illegal. Duh!

 

Here’s a link to the notes on my presentation. Oh, and don’t forget you can follow and support me directly via Patreon (it’s more music and fiction orientated currently), if you like what I do. Gotta throw that in there hehe! We still live in a capitalist society, and money doesn’t grow on trees. Meh!

Back 2 Basics Cultural Violence Presentation

New Song and Links

I’ve got a new song out on Bandcamp and Soundcloud! It’s an industrial, grunge, free jazz, noise, punk affair, topped with some Trent Reznor worship.

The writing process was very cathartic for me, and as such I’d just like to generally share it. I’ve opted to do this via Bandcamp’s pay what you want thingamabob. Pretty much you pay whatever you want for the song. You enter 0 to get a free download. I’m just asking for an email. No, I won’t spam you. I have neither the funds nor the political will to effectively spam people via email (ha!).

I’m looking for emails because we all know social media ain’t shit these days. Email offers a more direct way to reach people about what you’re up to and releasing. So I’m trying to go old school so I can actually reach people interested my stuff without having to post popular fake news, and boost posts to pay Mark Zuckerberg more monies. Also, follow my blog to get direct news, and/or follow me on Patreon. They don’t have weirdo algorithms there yet, as far as I know.

Spotify Playlists With My Music (Assorted Weird Shit)

Sooooo, Spotify appears to have arrived in South Africa this week. To some it’s the next best thing after sliced toast. For others, it’s why bother to move from Deezer or Apple Music. For artists it’s  still rampant exploitation of copyright value, degrading payments and grandiose promises of exposures. Oops, did I say that out loud? I mean it’s the next best thing after sliced toast!

Personal feelings aside, it’s still the biggest music streaming service on the planet, so my music is in there for now. I’m also glad I can finally claim my artist pages. South African artists haven’t been able to, as it requires a Spotify account, and Spotify didn’t exist here, yet. Ha! Third World Problems!

While suffering from a nasty tummy bug, I’ve been fiddling a bit on the platform to check it out. It seems more playlisty orientated, which isn’t really for me as I’m a more of a sits down and meticulously listens to the entire album kind of guy.

However, out of boredom, curiosity, and general goodwill to humankind, I made some playlists with my music in them. Yes, this is shameless self-promotion. However, it also highlights some of my influences, and the general crazy shit I like.

The Dark Cow

Soooo, this list is pretty much for people who like hardcore rappity raps of a darker nature. Filthy grimy shit! Non-Stop BARs! Lyrics you catch after ten years of listening and researching the occult, classic movies, serial killers and mafiosos. That kind of thing. *Vinnie Paz Evil Laugh*

The Mad Drummer

Here are some notes on The Mad Drummer’s playlists. I promise I didn’t write these. I don’t know where he comes up with this stuff, the psycho!

“I, myself, indeed, myself, The Mad Drummer, have selected some classically fused metal ditties to go along with my own Not Yet Dead. Feel the delightful pitter patter of the double bass drum as the melodic counterpoint assaults the higher functions of the mind leading to the land of catharsis. Beauty! ‘Hosanna!’ as the renowned composer, Adam Nergal Darski would say.”

“Obsidian Jones’ picks compositions to accompany Kratos. Obsidian advises this is only for those of a sophisticated and dark palette. Those of a psychedelic, yet evil nature. Those who might play Coltrane next to Holst. Those who might play BEHEMOTH, then Chelsea Wolfe the next second. Yes, those darklings wondering around out there in the nether realm beyond the reaches of the sun.”

Dilman Dila’s ‘The Trouble With Afrofuturism’

I just read Dilman Dila’s ‘The Trouble with Afrofuturism’ and found it quite poignant. It touches on a number of things that scratch around my mind when I hear the term. Such as, what does it actually mean? Really though? What does it mean? How broad is this thing, and as Dila notes, there’s almost a fanciful, one size fits all approach, where the definition varies according to what the user wants to describe as Afrofuturistic.

Definition arguments aside though Dila’s piece also made me think of the ‘one-way transaction’ style I feel Afrofuturism sometimes falls victim too. These are mostly behind the scenes, niggles, that industry personnel would be aware of, but consumers probably aren’t paying too much attention to.

For example the issue of Lina Iris Viktor, vs Black Panther & Co.  For those unaware, Viktor alleges her artworks were stolen for use in the music video ‘All The Stars’ by Kendrick Lamar and SZA. I would say she has a very strong case here, as she was contacted twice to participate, and declined.

If you’re not schooled on Entertainment Industry Bullshit 101, the general stealing process operates in this manner. First, you, Leviathan Artist Inc. contact lesser known artist and ask them to participate for A. Exposure or B. Peanuts. Said person declines your ridiculous offer, as they actually want to pay the rent, and/or highly value their work (as they should, they made it!). You, Leviathan Artist Inc. then hire other, probably even lessor known artist, and ask them if they can make something ‘similar’, usually taking precaution to remain in the grey area of copyright infringement just in case someone notices. This is mostly to avoid bad publicity. You don’t really have to worry about the legalities as you probably have more lawyers, and you can run a smear campaign claiming the artist is a bitter hater, whose own self-pity and mental illness is the reason they’re suing you. I’m not saying this is what went down in this case, it’s just how it generally goes down.

Anyway, industry politics (bullshit) aside, as noted in the piece:
“In an interview, Ms. Viktor said what matters to her most is the principle, not compensation. “Cultural appropriation is something that continually happens to African-American artists,” she said, “and I want to make a stand.”

Things get very strange here. A team consisting of African-Americans, making a movie that’s supposed to represent black excellence, and Afrofuturism I suppose, rip-off (allegedly…) a British-Liberian’s artwork? I find no better way to describe this scenario other than: a complete mindfuck.

There’s also that slightly colonial smell of claiming intellectual property, and narrative merely because you have the bigger gun. I don’t like that I sometimes observe a weird colonial type thing going on in the creation of Afrofuturist works. I also find myself constantly seeing the “I Have the Bigger Gun” phenomena in the juxtaposition between what African Spec Fic authors (or movie directors in Dila’s case) living in Africa can achieve versus what those living in more developed nations can.

It largely boils down to access: social capital; funds; decent infrastructure. The world has a hierarchy (even with the internet), so on average, there’s generally going to be more infrastructure to take advantage of, off the African continent. It is what it is. There’s just something very painful in that fact. Despite these optimistic Afrofutures (Afrofuturies? Afrofutury? Afrofuture`?) we might like to see, most Africans still have to leave the continent, and access Western infrastructures, in order for those very Afrofutures to reach your computer screen in the first place. It’s a biting irony…

This goes onto Dila’s discussion of the difficulties of imagining and ingesting Utopian Afrofutures when you actually live in Africa. Most of the daily experiences living in Africa are so far removed such Utopian concepts that you find yourself with Schizobrain, walking between fantasy ideals and real world realities. Dystopia might be a dead genre, but dystopia is largely what I see when walking the insanely unequal streets of South Africa, hence why I write a lot of it.

 I’m definitely on the fence about this whole Utopian Afrofuturism thing. I prefer a more Mamdani inspired interpretation. In a post from last year, I noted, contrary to what is often a Black African knee-jerk reaction to decolonization, that Mamdani suggests the future of Africa may not be a revert to traditional beliefs, and a throwing away of all Western influences. Instead he suggests, it may be a convergence of the two, which creates something new and unorthodox.

I feel somewhat the same about Afrofuturism at times. It may also be the South Africa in me, as we’re such a mishmash of Afro and Euro centrism, I find it difficult to turn off that lens. I was also not born in South Africa, so that strange limbo place between African and African diaspora is pretty much my comfort zone.

Either way, I believe a more realistic Afrofuturism might speak to the convergence of our current realities, and how we hope things might be. Maybe an African does create a new amazing technology that defies all expectations, and could save the entire continent, and turn it into a Utopia. But then again, maybe the West steals it from us, with the help of our limp politicians and we reap none of the benefits. Who knows?