I absolutely adore speculative fiction anthologies, so when I saw that both C.L. Clark and T.L. Huchu had stories in this one, I had to read it. This is a collection of twenty-nine stories from 2020 told by African or African diaspora writers, a good mix of science fiction, fantasy and horror. There are stories that deal with age-old problems like racism and parenthood and newer ones like climate change and gentrification, from robot revolutions to vengeful djinn. Most of the stories were a solid three or four stars, but there were a few stories that particularly stood out to me:
“Things Boys Do” – Pemi Aguda. A delightfully atmospheric horror story about three new fathers.
“She hates that word, destination. Too close to destiny. Too far from reality.”
“Giant Steps” – Russell Nichols. A journey of discovery for one scientist, from her childhood to her arrival as the first human on a new world.
“A robot can’t cry, but it can be worried.”
“Scar Tissue” – Tobias S. Buckell. My absolute favorite of the collection. Told in the second person, a deeply emotional exploration of trauma and parenthood, through the lens of a man who’s suffered an accident and now agrees to “raise” a robot in return for extra cash.
“A Love Song for Herkinal as Composed By Ashkernas Amid the Ruins of New Haven” – Chinelo Onwualu. Another heartwarming one, where after the collapse of most of the world, a family is running a hotel for supernatural creatures – even the not so pleasant ones. Absolutely fascinating and amazing world building.
“You always taught me that it’s easier to run forward than backwards.”
“A Mastery of German” – Marian Denise Moore. A story about racial memory and ethics. Very thought provoking.
“Desiccant” – Craig Laurance Gidney. I absolutely loved this one, about a woman who moves into a rundown apartment and discovers something is critically wrong, housing segregation as a horror story. My only complaint was that it was too short!
“Egoli” – T.L. Huchu. Told in the second person, a story about an elderly woman reflecting on technological – and other – advancements during her lifetime. Lovely.
“And This Is How to Stay Alive” – Shingai Njeri Kagunda. My (extremely close) second favorite. A gorgeous, bittersweet story about a gay teen, suicide, time travel, and a sister’s love.
Overall, a well-rounded collection with a little something for everyone. Highly recommended!
I received an advance review copy of this book from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.