Posted on Leave a comment

Africa Risen: A New Era of Speculative Fiction

Edited by Sheree Renee Thomas, Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki, and Zelda Knight. Review copy provided by the publisher.

This is an anthology of original fiction by authors from Africa and the African diaspora. Its editors are extremely personally aware that Africa is not one location but an entire continent worth, and that any anthology of this nature should have breadth and depth of story choice.

And wow, does it deliver. There’s the hardest of science fiction and the highest of fantasy and everything in between. Settings everywhere, everywhere. Stylistic choices of basically every type. If you can’t find something you like in this anthology, you probably don’t like speculative fiction at all, because there’s just so much here. I have long argued that lists like “best Mexican-American poetry” should be evaluated not as an AND but as an OR: if you are specifically interested in EITHER Mexican-American writing OR poetry, you should give it a look, as long as you’re not actively averse to one of them, and I think that’s important here. If you have an interest in speculative fiction by writers with African roots, great–but if you just have an interest in one of those categories, still great, don’t miss it.

There were a few stories that really stood out for me in this antho. First off, they started with an absolute barnburner of a story from Dilman Dila, “The Blue House.” It’s poignant, it’s excellent at thinking through non-standard points of view, and it’s got a human-robot hybrid in it, literally what more could you ask Dila for. “Lady Rainbow” by Yvette Lisa Ndlovu has a lovely relationship with the protag’s grandmother, mediated by her cookbook, and also there’s a giant mantis element in it (!!!). Wole Talabi’s “A Dream of Electric Mothers” also has strong themes of family and ancestors, with giant future computers involved in a thoughtful examination of the complex nature of peace.

But those are just my favorites–there’s enough in this anthology that I’m sure you’ll find other things. There are friends and familiar names in here but also authors I’d never read before, which is a hard and wonderful balance for an anthology to strike. Recommended.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *