Lara Pawson drew my attention to this.
It seems to me that interest in science fiction is a sign of a forward-thinking, imaginative society. If we ever see a large science fiction market in Africa, that may be a sign that Africa has turned a corner, psychologically, since scifi is so often aspirational.
And further on that point, perhaps we should be encouraging African interest in science fiction to help bring about that psychological shift. After all, I don’t think science fiction is a uniquely Western phenomenon. What would African scifi even look like? I’m fascinated just thinking about it.
Thanks for posting this.
I completely second Val’s opinion on the value of science fiction for a country, a nation or a people emerging from something dark.
And reading the linked post I find the final comment about sf being dismissed as “not proper literature”, I find a strong echo of what’s happening in my country – where sf was big in the ’50s, when a national voice was found by our writers… and then the scene began shrinking as “serious critics” snubbed the genre.
I hope Africa will fare better than Italy – both with science fiction and all the rest.
Val, I wonder why you think that Africans en masse are not forward-thinking, imaginative or aspirational? Of course a lot of people in Africa have hard lives: are you assuming that that is their fault? That if a majority of Africans had some kind of “psychological shift”, things would get better for them? I think there may be other reasons for all that war, famine, poverty, illiteracy and disease.
One that’s not on the list at that link — Lauren Beukes’ ‘Moxyland’ is a spirited attempt at Afrofusion cyberpunk. Unfortunately, it’s set in Cape Town, not Johannesburg, which instantly trivialises it; worse yet, the copy I saw had a puff by Andre Brink comparing it to A Clockwork Orange ‘with all the hallmarks of a cult classic’, which is embarrassing. That said, I can’t think of a more sciencefictiony South African science fiction.
(I don’t know if you’ve encountered Ivan Vladislavic — I found his latest fiction ‘The Exploded View’ to be distinctly Ballardian, an accomplished evocation of the non-places of Johannesburg. His insight into the psychology of South African Tuscan vernacular cluster housing alone justifies a read.)
Interest in science fiction equals forward thinking? In a John W. Campbell or a New Worlds way? If you know what I mean … The idea of social engineering via science fiction does have its appeal, though! Isn’t that what Stalin intended all along?
The first half of JM Coetzee’s Dusklands (1974), ‘The Vietnam Project’, is altogether reminiscent of The Atrocity Exhibition. Unfortunately Coetzee didn’t live up to his sci-fi potential, with the result that is known to all.
Davide, Berlusconi has lost his immunity! Surely this is consolation of some kind? Funnily enough, I have been wondering for quite a long time whether Berlusconi and Jacob Zuma are not somehow parallel cases, especially with regard to showmanship, bench-packing and evading prosecution.
I forgot to say: SF and Africa is on film with District 9, a South African production (obviously playing with Cape Town’s famous District 6) that is on now … at a cinema near you. I’m told it’s excellent. Love to hear what SF-ers who know the genre better will have to say about it.
(meant to add this:
Still have problems with pigeon holing and the limitations that genre can impose.
Are these writers setting out to write sci-fi or is it the perception and expectations of others?
Still, any imaginative fiction coming out of Africa is an interesting prospect and Big Bishop Roko sounds like character created by Moorcock.
On the subject of genre and expectations evoked by book cover art; I appreciated the shift by publishers away from garish fantasy covers , which has seen authors like Chris Priest and M John travel from sci-fi and fantasy sections in book shops to A – Z.
Particularly loved the blue, red and green editions of Ice Monkey, Course of the Heart and Climbers.
That green Climbers is still a holy grail for a pal of mine.
Retain a soft-spot for the Ian Miller Ice Monkey cover though.
Hi Duke. Chris may have travelled, but I haven’t (except backwards). Those covers you mention were too far ahead of the game to have much effect in publishing terms. Lovely, though.
Point taken. There were some rather nice covers for Signs of Life but you’re not going to find Light or Nova Swing in A- Z.
Still, it’ll all be celebrity chefs soon if Waterstones has its way.
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