Dominion: An Anthology of Speculative Fiction from Africa and the African Diaspora
by Zelda Knight (Editor), Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki, Nicole Givens Kurtz, Dilman Dila, Eugen Bacon, Nuzo Onoh, Marian Denise Moore, Dare Segun Falowo, Rafeeat Aliyu, Suyi Davies Okungbowa, Odida Nyabundi
This is a very strong anthology. Even the stories that didn‘t fully grab me gave me plenty to think about. Recommended!
Trickin by Nicole Givens Kurtz
An old god rises up each fall to test his subjects. A Halloween story with a supernatural twist. It was ok. ★★★☆☆
Red_Bati by Dilman Dila
Dilman Dila is a Ugandan writer and film maker. The story is about a robot facing an existential crisis. Is he a human inside of a pet robot? Does he have a spirit? What is his purpose?
This felt a bit like a physics lecture, with a side dish of techno-babble. However, if Murderbot ever wants to adopt a pet, this could be the ideal dog for it. Nice plot, although the ending is a bit abrupt—I think this could make an interesting novella. I liked it. ★★★★☆
A Maji Maji Chronichle by Eugene Bacon
Eugen Bacon is an African Australian computer scientist (born in Tanzania) and author of spec fic.
A magician and his son time-travel to Ngoni country and try to change the course of history. Very wordy, wanting to create atmosphere. I didn‘t like the first few pages, but as the story picked up momentum, I liked it better. It covers the usual ethical ground of time travel stories. It is worth reading up on the Ngoni before reading the story, it helps with the background. The author is pretty sparse with filling in any details. ★★★½☆
“Early in the 20th century, the Ngoni were a fierce ethnic group, distant cousins to King Shaka of the Zulu kingdom. Way before the scramble and partition of Africa, ethnic groups had dispersed across the continent, and this particular Ngoni group set habitat in what later became known as German East Africa. In defiance to harsh methods of forced labour imposed upon them by colonialists, the Ngoni took up arms in what is historically documented as The Maji Maji Rising. Maji is a Swahili word for water. Belief holds that a witchdoctor gave warriors a magic potion that would turn German bullets to water.“
More about the Maji Maji rebellion here. Story can be read for free here.
The Unclean by Nuzo Onoh
Nuzo Onoh is a British-Nigerian writer. She is a pioneer of the African horror subgenre. More about that here.
The main character Desdemona tells her story. About her horrible marriage and what it leads her to do… Names matter, so all kinds of alarms went off in my head, when I read her name and that of her sister.
“Desee’s quest will force her to make some terrible choices, and with the diabolical help of a powerful witch-doctor, embark on a harrowing journey that will end in deadly consequences, culminating in a trial by ordeal underneath the infamous Tree of Truth.“
Very good, but turns pretty strange and disgusting towards the end. Not for the squeamish. Set in Nigeria, around the time of Nigeria‘s independence. Quite a prolific country in terms of writing, it seems—I keep bumping into authors from that country—and learned about the Igbo and about fetishism. ★★★★½
A Mastery of German by Marian Denise Moore
I couldn‘t find much about the author, but think she might be from Louisiana and is a computer analyst and poet. And this story is a finalist of the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award 2021.
A near-future story about memories and passing them on in a genetic procedure. The technology is not explained or shown and the ethical implications are mentioned, but not elaborated on much. But it would probably need a novel to explore all that. I liked it. The main character was relatable, the writing was very readable. ★★★★☆
Convergence in Chorus Architecture by Dare Segun Falowo
Another Nigerian author. More about them and their work in this article / interview.
And a short bio and links to some stories here.
Mythology, Nigerian gods, dreams. Didn‘t captivate me. ★★¾☆☆
Emily by Marian Denise Moore
A snippet with possibilities.
To Say Nothing of Lost Figurines by Rafeeat Aliyu
Another Nigerian author. The title immediately made me think of To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis. That book has been on my want-to-read list for ages, but so far I haven’t gotten round to it yet. I can‘t tell if it was a plot bunny for this story, which is a magical portal fantasy. Amusing tone, bit of a caper/heist story. Needs more… ★★★★☆
Sleep Papa, Sleep by Suyi Okungbowa Davies
And another Nigerian author. I liked his David Mogo Godhunter. This story is pretty gruesome, but excellently written. We are talking body parts, corpses and violence. Well crafted tale with no loose ends. ★★★★★
The Satellite Charmer by Mame Bougouma Diene
A Franco-Senegalese-American author. I found quite a few interesting articles written by him. Dark Moons Rising on a Starless Night, his collection of four novelettes, is mentioned several times.
This story is probably the longest in this anthology. And it is odd. Set in a near future, where Chinese corporations mine African land via satellite. We are told the life story of Ibrahima in several jumps. He is an odd and fairly unlikable guy with an unusual connection to those satellites. Interesting concept, but I didn‘t like the story particularly much. Still, I learned something about the Caliphate, which was new to me. ★★¾☆☆
Here is a free online story by the author, that is very, very similar to this one here, if you want to get an impression of his writing.
Clanfall: Death of Kings by Odida Nyabundi
I had a hard time tracking down the auther, but eventually found this story, with the same beginning as the prologue of Clanfall:
“Fisi Wahoo basked in the rapturous applause of the crowd. It seemed like the whole population of New Machakos had turned up for his coronation. Fisi! Fisi! Fisi! They chanted.“https://awacho.wordpress.com/2016/04/21/what-goes-around/
I think we are looking at a story by an author from Kenya. Good, pretty puzzling at first, set in the far future, in what used to be Kenya, with bionically enhanced, conscious and intelligent animals (I think?), where humanity has disappeared long ago. It would have been nice to have gotten some visuals on the characters. There are a lot of claws, cannons, armour and various augmentations, but we never get to see what the protagonists actually look like.
Society is ruled by feudal clans. War and conflict seem to be the favoured state of being. I liked the characters and the writing. However, this was not a coherent story and it leaves the reader in the middle of things, just when the story starts to get interesting.
If the author ever decides to make a novella or novel out of this, with a proper plot, I would like to read it. ★★★½☆
Thresher of Men by Michael Boatman
Boatman is a US American actor or novelist, writing in the splatterpunk horror genre. Sounds gory, right? I had to look it up. And holy crap, that was gruesome. Rape, gore, lots of blood. Well written though. ★★★★☆
Ife-Iyoku, the Tale of Imadeyunuagbon by Ekpeki Oghenechovwe Donald
Another Nigerian author, with a finalist for the 2020 Nebula Awards for Best Novella and a bunch of other awards for this and other stories. Content warning: attempted rape, nonconsensual sex and suicide.
The discrimination of women in parts of the story irritated me too much to truly enjoy it. That part of the story was intentional, but women were still just weak victims throughout, determined by men and the female MC, Imade, was ultimately at fault because she didn‘t know her place and didn‘t do as she was told. This didn‘t sit right with me. That‘s just me though, plenty of others liked this a lot.
The action scenes were good, the post-apocalyptic world building was good, even if I didn‘t buy the premise of the nuclear war. So this was a mixed bag for me. I might pick up the author again. ★★★☆☆
I received this free e-copy from the publisher/author via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review, thank you!