Afro Sci-fi.

So apparently the dearth of non-irritating afro sci-fi is being pondered by others, too. Glad to hear it.

I just stumbled across tonight, which in turn led me to this BBC podcast about African science fiction: a fairly long meandering beginning with topics like District 9 and chats with its creators, to brief interviews with African writers, including Afrocyberpunk’s Jonathan Dotse (Doe-chay) himself – hailing from Ghana, no less :-)

What was interesting toward the end of the podcast was the discussions around magic and traditional religions being mixed with technology in sci-fi storytelling. While I personally can’t stand the concept or its resulting admixtures, it’s interesting to note that Africans themselves might have no problem with this fusion. I guess I should apologize to all those writers, African and non-, that have resorted to the device. Except I’m… err… not going to.

I admit to having very little time for fantasy and magic. I don’t mind magic realism, but I REALLY can’t stand literal fantasy/magic, especially when bolted onto sci-fi fare. But that’s just me. According to some of the speakers in the segment, it’s at the very least a device that will assist the acceptance of Afro sci-fi, by Africans themselves. This is a very interesting point. I don’t debate the premise, but it’s a bit robbing peter to pay paul. It doesn’t do jack to change the worldview of Africans, and it amounts to the possibly gargantuan task of reclaiming magic and religion (excising it neatly) from the gnarly tentacles of Historicism (read ‘lack of advancement, technological or otherwise’).

It does raise the question though, of “Whose sci-fi is this, anyway?” The stories we gravitate to say something (a lot, actually) about our lives… and the lives of those people on the continent who would be interested in sci-fi are not necessarily the same as the lives of their counterparts in the diaspora. So even if I know what I don’t need, perhaps people in general need several different forms of Afro sci-fi to exist in parallel.

Oh, and I hope ACP actually finishes and publishes Accra 2057, because the synopsis sounds pretty awesome.

Image cred: a still-frame from a youtube book trailer for an Alastair Reynolds tome (Blue Remembered Earth).

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