Part 15 – SF in SA 15 – On Writing the ‘Other’, with Zandile Mahlasela (March 2012)

It took me Nick Wood a good few years before I plucked up the courage to write the 'Other', i.e. to me, someone who was not white and male. I firstly wrote as a 'white woman' in God in the Box (2003), set in an increasingly familiar London. Phew - that was picked up, published in the British science fiction magazine Interzone - and I wasn't scorned as a 'sexist impostor'! The leap to crossing the 'colour' divide took a bit ...
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Part 14 – SF in SA 14 – Interview with South African Writer Tom Learmont (January 2012) by Nick Wood

In mid November 2011, I picked Tom Learmont up from Finchley Central tube station in North London and we made our way to a nearby pub for a conversation. Tom asked if this was my 'local' and I professed to not yet culturally assimilating into Britain, even after 13 years - the pub had been chosen purely for convenience's sake - and was empty, bar a couple of people and a pile of discarded bottles! It must have seemed like a far-cry indeed from the rep...
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Part 13 – SF in SA 13 – Mighty Man, a Superman for Soweto (November 2011) by Nick Wood

Soweto's Super Man: 'Mighty Man' and the mid-70s in South Africa I've been a comic book reader since I grew up in Zambia and then South Africa during my teens and beyond. Due to the vagaries of international distribution at the time these were mostly super-hero comics, imported from the far shores of the United States of America, although alongside these came a smattering of British comics such as Tiger and Hurricane, The Beano and Dandy. Television in South Africa had be...
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Part 12 – Lauren Beukes wins Arthur C. Clarke Award (May 2011) by Nick Wood

A Brief appreciation of Zoo City c/f Locus Online Zoo City is a densely energetic and engaging story, complex in its structure and narrative, melding and breaking genres with great skill. It is both riveted together and pulled along by a strong but flawed young amaZulu woman called Zinzi December, who has a 'gift' for 'finding things' - and many things she does indeed find, both internal and external to herself. Due to her prior criminal history, she is supernatural...
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Part 11 – Our Ancestors Are Not Ghosts (December 2010) by Nick Wood

Just a little under 25 years ago I started working as an intern clinical psychologist in a legally designated 'black' psychiatric hospital in Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa. One of the first 'patients' I was assigned to was an amaZulu man in his thirties, prone to bouts of confusion and falling asleep at 'odd and inappropriate' times. I was asked to accompany him ('Phulani') at set times to talk with and observe his behaviour, particularly if I noticed t...
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Part 10 – South African Speculative Fiction Over The Ages (December 2009) by Nick Wood

With acknowledgement to prior publication in Locus Magazine, November 2009. In this overview of South African written science or speculative fiction (SF), I aim to give a socio-historical account of the progress of the genre, as the fiction produced over the decades cannot be fully understood without appreciating the context in which it emerges. Science fiction in South Africa during the apartheid years was a relatively subdued arena, given the socio-political exigencies of the ...
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Part 9 – Doris Lessing (Southern Rhodesia/Zimbabwe) (August 2009) by Adam Roberts

Not everybody was glad to hear that Doris Lessing had won the 2007 Nobel Prize for Literature: It would be nice to believe that the emphasis in Bloom's final three word dismissal is on the fourth-rate rather than on the science fiction. That, in other words, it is not by virtue of the fact that these books are science fiction that they are, in Bloom's mind, fourth-rate. Such would be the triumph of hope over experience. But if the Literary Establishment (a nebulous enti...
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Part 8 – Insider versus Outsider Fiction?

I managed to track down a book on 'African sf' called Future Earths: Under African Skies, edited by Mike Resnick and Gardner Dozois (Daw Books, 1993). I had a brief e-mail exchange with Gardner Dozois in my efforts to locate this book – he was very helpful and said it had taken a lot to sell the idea, given it was largely set in Africa, but it had unfortunately ended up selling in disappointedly small numbers. As Gardner had mentioned, it's actually sf set in Africa rather th...
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Part 7 – Science Fiction in Southern Africa by Ingrid Johnston

Department of Secondary Education, University of Alberta, Canada Bookbird: A Journal of International Children's Literature, 44, (1), 2006, pp. 20-27. This paper discusses contemporary English-language young adult novels - and some novels aimed mainly at adults but accessible to mature teenaged readers ' set in sub-Saharan Africa, and how these are read in classrooms in Canadian schools. Only novels published (or republished) in North America (and therefore available to young Can...
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Part 6 – Science Fiction in Southern Africa by Gail Jamieson

In the late 1960's Tex and Rita Cooper were in touch with Dorothy Jones of N3F(National Fantasy and Fiction Foundation) in California. There was a notion of joining up with them, but a better idea seemed to be to start up a South African Club. Letters were sent to the newspapers and enough interest was shown to make a decision to go ahead. At last on a cold Friday winter's night June the 9th, 1969 about 9 fans met and "The Science Fiction Club of South Africa" was f...
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