Two big African speculative fiction books are due to be launched in the next couple of months. Perhaps first out of the blocks with a 29 April 2010 release is Lauren Beukes and her follow up to Moxyland, entitled Zoo City. This looks like it's going to be a rollicking, snorting follow-up, albeit a completely different story to Moxyland and set in the grittier and grimier streets of Jo'burg. (It also features a great cover as seen in an earlier blog of mine, below, by John Picacio). For more info from publishers Angry Robot, follow the link: http://angryrobotbooks.com/our-authors/laurenbeukes/zoo-city/.
Feted for a June 1st 2010 release is Nigerian-American Nnedi Okorafor's Who Fears Death. This also sports a great cover and looks to be an exciting and powerful story, garnering early praise and a starred review in Publisher's Weekly: http://nnedi.blogspot.com/2010/04/publishers-weekly-gives-who-fears-death.html. Nnedi is following up on the earlier successes of her previous books Zahrah the Windseeker and The Shadow Speaker.
The wonderful covers on both the Beukes and Okorafor are no mean feat in this era where there has been a tendency to 'whitewash' covers, with a prime example being the 'paling' of the central protagonist in Justine Larbalestier's Liar. As reported by The Book Smugglers, there is a long and unfortunate history to this practice, so it's good to see such strong and authentic covers on the two books mentioned above: http://thebooksmugglers.com/2010/02/cover-matters-on-whitewashing.html
Finally, there has been some online debate as to what constitutes African speculative fiction, with a fine rejoinder by one of the authors mentioned above, i.e. Nnedi Okorafor: http://www.sfwa.org/2010/03/can-you-define-african-science-fiction/ In addition, Charles Tan writes on Where is International SF?: http://www.sfwa.org/2010/03/where-is-international-sf/. And so, if you're wanting to support international SF, what better place to start than the two African spec-fic books above? Furthermore, hopefully coming out later this year is volume 2 of the Apex Book of World SF, focusing on Africa and Latin America. Volume 1 is still in print and well worth getting too: http://www.apexbookstore.com/products/the-apex-book-of-world-sf. Due out sometime in the future is a compilation of Weird fiction by Jeff and Ann VanderMeer, who are trawling the world for a truly global collection. So start saving, you're in for quite a treat!
Nick Wood - April 2010.