There is something that attracts me in science fiction written in other countries. That something is diversity. The use of elements from the traditions of each area can give quite original twists to ideas that in other hands might seem trite to us. So, when I had the opportunity to read AfroSFv2, a compendium of five novellas by African authors, I did not hesitate to take the chance despite my tight schedule.
The last Pantheon by Tade Thompson and Nick Wood
This approach to African history through superheroes, a very American trope, struck me as very interesting.
Pan-African and Black Power are two superpowered beings who have spent years facing each other defending what they consider fair.
On the basis of my total ignorance of the history of an entire continent, “The last Pantheon” seems like a smart alternative history and a quite ordinary story of superheroes, with cyberpunk touches. It also pays clear homage to comic book series as Powers and the famous confrontation between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman (with built-in comic version), among other influences that I leave the reader to discover.
But it also has something else, the ability to intrigue the reader, to make him see facts that we are not used to face. That alone makes the reading worth it.
Hell Freezes Over by Bougouma Mame Diene
A curious post-apocalyptic story: in a way reminiscent of Dark Eden but flawed, as it didn’t get me hooked on reading. The most interesting is the strict caste system separating the lives of humans who are busy preparing for the arrival of the end of the world.
The Flying Man of Stone by Dilman Dila
What could have been an interesting reflection on the results of violence and colonialism in Africa, with great touches like a hidden underground race, just degenerates into an orgy of violence with a tremendously abrupt end.
VIII by Andrew Dakalira
This violent story has a very attractive start with a collaboration between the US and an African country to recover a spacecraft out of control. What no one expected is that what caused the accident is still alive.
On this premise, the story morphs somehow toward a tribute to science fiction and more pulp adventure, losing interest in a rush. The ending, which leaves open several options, did not leave me wanting to read more.
An Indigo Song for Paradise by Tokunbo Efe Okogu
As if it were a collage, the author is doing apparently unconnected strokes defining the history of Paradise City, an enclave located in the future. Although I’m interested in this way of telling the story, I think the author loses a little in the political message he wants to send us.
This anthology presents a very political message in the riskiest part of science fiction: the sociology of the future based on the present. Despite the undeniable importance of this message, I’m afraid it loses something in the forms, mainly due to extreme violence shown on all pages. The takeaway from this anthology might well be that violence itself is implicit in change.