Tag Archives: africa

Book Review: Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor

24 Mar


It’s one of the most populous cities in the world and yet it is a city that is relatively mysterious to most Western audiences. Its geography, its nature, and even the languages spoken there (did you know the first language for many in Lagos is a Pidgin language and not English?) do not readily come to mind. But why would aliens, if they would come, necessarily park their ship above London, or crash into New York Harbor outside the U.N., or send troops into Los Angeles? Why wouldn’t they pick, instead, say, Lagos? What would a first contact be like if shapeshifting aliens who decided to come to stay on Earth for a while decided to skip the usual suspects and land in the lagoon outside the city of Lagos?

Lagoon, by Nnedi Okorafor explores that exact first contact scenario. Continue reading


Indy Genre: African Shorts

29 Sep

I get the sense that short films are often viewed as a way to develop skills and advertise those skills, or as a proof of concept for a feature-length film. I’m starting to see more and more short film available for general viewing on Youtube, Vimeo, and even Hulu as a way to reach audiences that don’t normally go to film festivals. Shorts, because they can be filmed much more quickly, also give filmmakers who have a very limited budget a chance to still tell an engaging story.

Finding genre film from Africa is a challenge in the US. Other than District 9, I don’t think much has made it over here as of yet, and I don’t honestly know how much is actually made, (tough there is plenty of film being made in various African countries, particularly Nigeria! Just do a bit of googling about Nollywood if you don’t believe me. In terms of sheer number of films produced per anum, it’s right on Bollywood’s heels and ahead of Hollywood).

Read on for a selection of African short films. On the strength of these, I hope we will see more feature length films from these countries over here soon! Continue reading

Cultural Tourists (Part 1): Publishing and Representation

6 Mar

One of my goals is to read as diverse literature as possible — at least those by authors outside of the US and the UK (since these two are the major players in the global publishing industry). The unfortunate reality is this:  I keep on failing. That’s not to say I don’t occasionally succeed; just the other day, I finished reading a local anthology — Maximum Volume: Best New Philippine Fiction 2014 (ed. Dean Francis Alfar & Angelo R. Lacuesta) — but that’s only because it’s a local publication and I’m friends with some of the contributors. The said anthology being a title published in the Philippines, it poses some challenges in terms of accessibility that authors/publishers from other countries might experience: Continue reading

Question of the Week: What mythological or folkloric tradition would you like to see more Fantasy based on?

7 Mar

We’re on a bit of a fantasy kick these days.  With places like the World SF blog covering speculative literature published elsewhere around the world, it’s becoming pretty obvious that there’s so much more out there that traditional outlets aren’t covering.  But Western myths and folkloric traditions are still the dominant theme in a lot of fantasy, which is why we’re asking the question in the title.

Here’s what we think:


I think it’s fairly obvious to American readers that most of our fantasy is based on western European mythologies and folklore, predominantly the folklore of the British Isles and, to a lesser extent, Greek and Norse mythology.  Even the vampire legend had to be transplanted from Eastern Europe before it was popularized (although vampires are a broader tradition and not unique to even Eastern Europe).  Anyway, what I’m saying is – BOOOOOR-ing!  Boring isn’t really the right word.  I still continue to enjoy these traditions in the fantasy that I read, but I’d really love to see the American fantasy community branch out a bit more – break out of their Western European comfort zone!  I’ll grant you that Neil Gaiman and Charles de Lint have done a great job incorporating non-western mythologies; it seems to be lacking for the most part.  And though writers that are born within those non-western traditions/cultures do incorporate them, they aren’t necessarily things you see on the American market.  So, the mythology/folklore I would like to see more of is… crap…  I’m going to go with South American.  Things out of the Mayan and Aztec and tribal mythos would be very neat to see.  If anyone can tell me some fantasy that already uses these traditions – point me in that direction!  I want chupacabras and Quetzacoatl and whatever else they have!  Can you tell it’s a tradition I know next to nothing about?  Well I want to learn!


Honestly, I would like to see accurate portrayals of tribal myths/folklore/belief systems/etc., particularly those from the African continent.  The problem I’ve seen in SF/F is that a lot of work that tries to use non-Western mythologies or folklore does so with an implicitly Western viewpoint.  By that I mean that such works rarely explore the myth without somehow Westernizing it, either by using a Western POV character or trying to change the dynamics of the myth itself to make it accessible to a Western audience.  Accessibility is problematic, though, since one can easily cross over the line into “too accessible,” which inevitably means that your attempt to represent a non-Western myth has failed miserably.  African, Native American, South American (Amazonian, perhaps?), Chinese, Southeast Asian, South Pacific-an…whatever it may be, I want to see it brought out in its entirety, without unfair reduction.  Worldbuilding should be totalizing, not half-assed.

What do you all what to see?  Let us know in the comments below!

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