Blog Hop – ‘Accessing the Future’ – July/August 2014

Kudos to The Future Fire and Kathryn Allan for pursuing a Disability in SF anthology entitled ‘Accessing the Future’. There has been a recently published generic anthology, looking at essays and ‘realistic’ fiction, entitled ‘Criptiques’: This book is available at: However, there has been limited engagement of the SF genre with ‘disability’ and so ‘Accessing the Future‘ is a crucial, original and wonderful venture which I urge you to support here:

Blog Hop Questions:

  1. Tell us about your Work In Progress (WIP) / Current Read (CR) and the world it’s set in.

Azanian Bridges’ is a book sitting with a publisher awaiting a verdict at the moment. It is set in a contemporary alternative South Africa where Nelson Mandela and other Struggle leaders were never released, i.e. apartheid survives.

  1. Who are the most powerful people in this world?

White Power, as legislated and entrenched by government, with prescribed discourses that suffuse the air to ‘normalise’ this power, facilitating colonisation.

  1. Where does their power come from?

The ‘points of divergence’ in history are the continuation of the Soviet Union and the survival of the Berlin Wall. Allied to this was a right-wing military coup that ensured a restrictive continuation of the policy of apartheid – FW De Klerk gets imprisoned for ‘treason’. South Africa maintains tacit (and hidden) support from Western powers, which see it as a barrier to ‘Soviet and Chinese expansion’ within Africa.

  1. What physical and/or mental characteristics underpin their positions of power?

For one of the two main characters – Martin van Deventer, clinical psychologist – this is his white skin and all that this implies, within such a political system. He also has superior education and access to resources, based on structural inequalities. (His ‘disability’ is also latent and unacknowledged racism, which initially (and additionally) hampers his ability to relate to the majority of people in the country.)

For Sibusiso Mchunu (student and ‘psychiatric patient’ initially), the underpinning of his relative powerlessness is his black skin. The novel hinges on the relationship of power and the shifting dynamic between both men. mediated by a ‘mind-reading’ machine, which is of interest to the security police as well. Sibusiso learns to manage his internal world and seek action for change in the external world. Martin learns he needs (lots of!) changing too.

So too there is a woman (‘Mamma Makosi’) who leads a cell of resistance, in the spirit of Kameron Hurley’s 2014 Hugo Award winning ‘We Have Always Fought.’

And, flitting though it all, a Hamerkop Bird (or idlozi: ancestral spirit?) looks for Some Place to Nest – and Something to Burn.

  1. How does this affect the weakest people in the world?

The aimed impact of a domineering and oppressive political system is to foster resignation and passivity. Powerlessness has to be resisted by action, which is both extremely risky and has high personal costs. (This book is dedicated to the many who paid a high price, sometimes the ultimate price –– for movement to a democratic system in South Africa in 1994.)

More on ‘Accessing the Future‘ Blog Hop here (Please Support!):

Next Post: September/October – Back to (African) Science Fiction updates.

Nick Wood

August 2014