Finally finished that anthology…

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!

Death of Kings

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. The above quoted story actually happens after the events of the story in this anthology, despite having the same starting paragraphs.

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☆


I will post updates whenever I finish another story.

I received this free e-copy from the publisher/author via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review, thank you!

Currently Reading…

I am still working my way through Dominion: An Anthology of Speculative Fiction from Africa and the African Diaspora. The current story, Clanfall: Death of Kings by Odida Nyabundi, is good, pretty puzzling, set in a very far away in time Kenya with bionically enhanced, conscious and intelligent animals (I think), where humanity has ceased to exists…

I have about an hour left in the kindle and would like to finish the book today. However, Life! Going on a business trip next week, starting off tomorrows afternoon. Busy doing stuff in preparation, trying to keep myself from procrastinating too much. Failing so far.

Anyhow, I started the morning by looking for an audiobook—something I can listen to whilst folding laundry etc. Ended up (or rather started) with Rovers (Audible Audio) by Richard Lange, a horror book with a different take on vampires. Of Mice and Men with vampires and biker gangs? The audio sounds good so far.

He hasn’t been outside during the day in more than seventy-five years. Seventy-five years since he’s felt the sun on his face, seventy-five years since he’s lain under a tree and run his fingers over leaf shadows flitting across a patch of warm grass, seventy-five years since he’s squinted through his lashes to pin a cawing raven against the noon glare. For the past three-quarters of a century he’s lived by night, in the ebon hours when monsters hunt and good folk keep to their houses. Since he turned, every dawn’s been a death sentence, every sunbeam a white-hot razor. That’s why he’s overjoyed whenever he dreams his only dream, when he finds himself walking that road under the blazing sun, under a few wisps of cloud unraveling across the sky. A bounding jackrabbit kicks up dust. A breeze brings a whiff of sage. He comes upon an empty pop can and gives it a kick. Light and warmth worm their way into the coldest, darkest thickets inside him, and if he never woke again, he’d be fine. This would be enough—the road, the sky, the sun—forever.

From the first page

And just for the heck of it, I just signed up for Dewey‘s October readathon, starting in about 90 minutes. Not that I have the time or intention to read for 24 hours straight, because real life…. Anyway….

The satellite whisperer…

Dominion: An Anthology of Speculative Fiction from Africa and the African Diaspora

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.

Magical portals and body parts

Dominion: An Anthology of Speculative Fiction from Africa and the African Diaspora
by Zelda Knight (Editor),  Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki (Editor)

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 (my review is here).

This story is pretty gruesome, but excellently written. We are talking body parts, corpses and violence. Well crafted horror tale with no loose ends. ★★★★★

Been there, but in different ways…

Sorry for the long break in posts, real life was busy, long and tiring. Reading took a bit of a back seat this week.

We Have Always Been Here
by Lena Nguyen

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Androids, a claustrophobic spaceship, a mysterious ice planet and a conspiracy with a dash of horror. 

Misanthropic psychologist Dr. Grace Park is on a exploratory mission to an ice-planet called Eos, taking care of the small crew. She is strangely clueless and lacking in social skills for a psychologist and seems to get along better with the androids onboard, who are serving the ship and the crew as cleaners, cooks, nurses and in other supporting functions. Fairly soon it becomes obvious that Park is being kept in the dark about the real purpose of the mission, when strange events start to manifest and affect everybody on board and the ship itself.

I had flashes of the movies Event Horizon, Prometheus and The Matrix. I won‘t write more about the plot, it would spoil too much. Suffice to say, I really struggled with the first two chapters and nearly DNFd, but then started to like the story quite a bit, when it started to go off the beaten track. Multiple POVs and timelines mixed it all up and kept it lively. However, I never really warmed up to the character of Park and found her character development at bit incongruous. Interesting theories about space, physics and androids. Nothing massively ground-breaking or new and no idea if the science is sound (probably not), but it worked for me. 

Not bad. I wouldn‘t mind coming back to this world and its protagonists.

Revenge and desperation

Uncanny Magazine Issue 32: January/February 2020
by Lynne M. Thomas (Editor),  Michael Damian Thomas (Editor)

A tenjō kudari (“ceiling hanger” yōkai) defends her theft
BY BETSY AOKI | 246 WORDS

„at night I hover above the beams you’ve hammered
between heaven and your spread silk coverlet“

https://uncannymagazine.com/article/a-tenjo-kudari-ceiling-hanger-yokai-defends-her-theft/

A poem about a yokai, a Japanese spectre/demon and her revenge. I like it. Great visuals, I can see here hovering under those rafters…


You Perfect, Broken Thing
BY C.L. Clark | 3930 WORDS

“When I leave the kill floor, my legs are wasted. I shuffle to the women’s locker room. I can’t stand anymore, but I know if I sit, I’ll never get back up. At least, not for another hour.“

https://uncannymagazine.com/article/you-perfect-broken-thing/

Short story. Winning a race to stay alive. And to give life to loved ones. Interesting and emotionally compelling.

More of the uncanny

Uncanny Magazine Issue 16: May/June 2017
by Lynne M. Thomas (Editor),  Michael Damian Thomas (Editor)

Sun, Moon, Dust by URSULA VERNON
A farmer inherits a magical sword from his dying grandmother. But he doesn‘t want to become a warrior

HUGO 2018 short story finalist. 

Very poetic, from an author with a love for potatoes, apparently. Satisfying ending. 


Small Changes Over Long Periods of Time by K.M. SZPARA
“I am trying to piss against a wall when the vampire bites me.“
As first sentences go, this is a pretty good one!

Not bad. An alternative world, where vampires are a known part of society, combined with a trans character. Unusual, thought provoking, slightly sexy. I am curious to know, what those small changes could turn out to be. I have ideas, obviously. 

Hugo Awards 2018 Novelette Nominee


What to expect from the Hadron Collider as a college roommate
BY BETSY AOKI | 201 WORDS, poetry

It will probably not be home for supper anytime soon.
Things will get broken and not put back together again.

Pretty amusing poem. I liked it!

Uncanny poetry

Uncanny Magazine Issue 41: July/August 2021
by Lynne M. Thomas (Editor),  Michael Damian Thomas (Editor)

I read the four poems in this issues: 

Hitobashira by Betsy Aoki

Sonnet for the Aglæcwif by Minal Hajratwala

After The Tower Falls, Death Gives Advice by Ali Trotta

Radioactivity by Octavia Cade

Or I tried, at least. The poem by Ali Trotta didn‘t work for me. I didn‘t get it.

BY BETSY AOKI | 136 WORDS

Every year the water flows up to the banks and beyond,
reaching slick algae fingers to the sky:

I read this poem twice and didn‘t understand it. I then looked up Hitobashira and learned something new. I didn‘t know there was such a thing as human sacrifices in Japan. Now the poem makes a lot more sense…

BY MINAL HAJRATWALA | 193 WORDS

Classic mum-in-law she was, Ma Grendl:

Beowulf is a story that keeps on giving! Not the first or only version that tries to shed a different light on Grendl‘s mother.

BY OCTAVIA CADE | 386 WORDS

Ranunculus aquatilis and radium.
One has petals that are pale in vases and reflect moonlight
the other walks in empty spaces, and footprints glow behind it.

A poem about Marie Curie. Interesting. It makes me realize, that I apparently need poems that not just tell a story, but also teach me new things and make me look up and research details.

Nonfiction by Authors of Color 

Was weiße Menschen nicht über Rassismus hören wollen (Aber wissen sollten)
by Alice Hasters

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I started the audiobook two days again and don‘t really have much to add to that post. Alice Hasters is a German journalist, writing about institutionalized racism in Germany, drawing from her own experiences growing up in Cologne.

I don‘t think this book has been translated into English. The title would be: What white people don’t want to hear about racism (but should know)

“May I touch your hair?”, “Can you get sunburn?”, “Where are you from?” Those who ask such questions usually don’t mean it badly. But still: they are racist. White people often don’t want to hear why. Alice Hasters explains it anyway. She vividly and patiently describes how racism shapes her everyday life as a black woman in Germany. It becomes clear that racism is not just a problem on the far-right of society. And confronting your own racism is painful at first, but the only way to overcome it.

Translation of the German book blurb

I chose the audiobook, narrated by the author. I was pretty hesitant about picking it up, not wanting to be told what a horrible, privileged and racist person I am. Plus, the reviews that I looked up were allover the place and, expectedly, very controversial and critical. 

I liked the book. Hasters writes well, narrates well, gives good examples and presents her arguments objectively. The book doesn‘t delve deeply into the topic and is surprisingly non-critical. Quiet a short piece, a bit on the shallow side. A good starting point.

Link to the October topic for my #ReadPOC Challenge: Read More Nonfiction by Authors of Color!