Blog – September to December 2015

2015, Best Of (and More)

Sorry for several months’ silence, but now is an ideal time for both looking back (2015) and looking ahead (2016). There are many and various ‘best of’ SFF lists for 2015, but few better – and Afrocentric too! – than Wole Talabi’s list of best African SFF.

A more generic list is compiled on Nina Allan‘s website, herself a wonderful writer too – in which she focuses on works to recommend for the 2015 British Science Fiction Association (BSFA) Awards. Firstly, she focuses on novel recommendations (part 1) – and then she moves on to short and non-fiction in SFF (part 2).

In her non-fiction review. Allan cites Chinelo Onwualu‘s essay on Race, Speculative Fiction & AfroSF, which she puts forward as a nomination for the BSFA Awards. Allan describes the piece: “Superb essay covering the Puppies, internet outrage, the reality of diversity and the true place of magic and spiritualism in Afro-SF. Essential, inspiring reading.”

Allan goes on to state: “Well worth considering alongside it are two other wonderful pieces, one being an interview with the Zimbabwean writer Petina Gappah in The Guardian, the other being Sofia Samatar’s powerful and essential essay for the New Inquiry, SKIN FEELING. Neither of these pieces is directly about speculative fiction, but both have a central relevance to the debates around diversity currently taking place in genre circles and should be read.”

Again, although not directly linked to speculative fiction, the ever-interesting Bookshy also has a general African list of interest to many I am sure.

As for me, I’ve read relatively little, as I’ve been very busy at a new job this year and persistent pain reduces evening and weekend energy further too. Still, a couple of strong shout outs from me for Tade Thompson‘s powerful and visceral West African thriller ‘Making Wolf‘ as well as the complex, nuanced and engaging (c)evolution trilogy by Stephanie Saulter. Furthermore, ‘Stories for Chip’ has many great stories and articles celebrating the magnificent Samuel Delany. An excellent fantasy read was Cat Hellisen‘s ‘Beastkeeper‘. Cat has just won the Short Story Day Africa‘s ‘Water‘ anthology prize – I was a reader on this and there are some stunning stories in here, due for publication early next year and on a theme central to Africa — and increasingly the larger world too, I suspect.

SSDA’s ‘Terra Incognita’ anthology, edited by a gifted writer too, Nerine Dorman, also has many wonderful stories, with a great lead off from Diane Awerbuck entitled ‘Leatherman.’Terra Incognita‘ has a compelling review from Mark Bould in the LA Review of Books. And speaking of Bould, he has a couple of very informative posts on African SFF, African Science Fiction 101 ; updated here and finally here. I also wrote an essay on the growing academic coverage of African SFF in Omenana.

Great to see Omenana cementing the place for excellent African SFF too. Geoff Ryman’s African SFF reading group on Facebook has been a wonderful repository and discussion source as well, focusing on Dilman Dila’s collection ‘A Killing in the Sun’ and Sofia Samtar’s ‘A Stranger in Olondria’ amongst others.

Also recently out are AfroSFv2, which includes 5 novellas from African SFF writers, including one Tade and I wrote together – which was a blast – called ‘The last pantheon‘. Newly out too is ‘African Monsters with a story of mine, ‘Thandiwe’s Tokoloshe, amongst a great (and scary!) TOC roll of continental beasts and writers. 

I have missed a huge amount I know of tremendous value, so here’s a further interesting 2015 list with books by Sarah Lotz and Aliette de Bodard et al! …And I’m currently reading/TBR: Nina Allan‘s ‘The Race‘; Rachel Zadok‘s ‘Sister Sister‘; Zen Cho‘s ‘Sorcerer to the Crown‘ and Zukiswa Wanner‘s ‘London Cape Town Joburg.’

Re non-fiction, for any unfortunate one interested in guiding doctors in the better management of long term health conditions, I had an article published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) here.

And as for 2016? Lots of good stuff ahead too. Tade has another new book out with Apex, entitled ‘Rosewater‘  and NewCon Press will be releasing my ‘Azanian Bridges‘ (which I assume without personal bias will also be good:-)) with a wonderful cover by the inimitable Vincent Sammy (see below). And LOTS more besides…

 So to you all – have a wonderful 2016 – if it is indeed a new year for you! Much exciting stuff to read…and to those who have endured losses this year, may you find love and peace again for both you and your families!

Nick Wood

December 2015

 Azanian Bridges - eBook cover