Reblog> Why Africa is the new home of science fiction

Interesting stuff detailed by the inimitable James Bridle. Lots to explore here…

Why Africa is the new home of science fiction

Wordsmack, a speculative fiction publisher dedicated to digital platforms, is the latest project to join the African SF boom

Lauren Beukes

Anthology series Something Wicked features the likes of Lauren Beukes, above, in its archives. Photograph: Ulrich Knoblauch

A few years ago, I got very excited about Afrocyberpunk, a blog by Jonathan Dotse out of Accra, Ghana. The stories he posted suggested a strange and an exciting future for science fiction, proposing “not the science fiction of your grandfather or the Foundation of your Asimov” but “the dystopian gloom of failed states, the iron rule of corruption, cartels snaking cold fingers into the upper echelons of government, and hi-tech gangs of disillusioned youth”. While Dotse’s own novel has yet to see the light of day, he and others have been active in a number of ventures, online and off, to make this vision a reality.

One of these is Jungle Jim, an African pulp fiction magazine, which, despite only being available as a beautifully designed print edition, provides a great jumping-off point for exploring multiple genres. Jungle Jim‘s writers include Nnedi Okorafor, whose story “The Go-Slow”, published at, blends magical fantasy into downtown Lagos traffic jams; Diriye Osman, who chronicles the lives of African LGBT kids in Somalia and London in stories such as “Earthling”; and Dzekashu MacViban, editor of Cameroon’s Bakwa magazine. Another is Something Wicked, South Africa’s first SF and horror magazine turned anthology series whose archives include short works by Sarah Lotz and Lauren Beukes, two South African authors who have found fame with dystopian future-fiction works in The Three and Moxyland respectively.

The most recent addition to the club is Wordsmack, a speculative fiction publisher dedicated to digital platforms. Publishing across Kindle, Kobo and iBooks, Wordsmack’s titles include young adult fantasy and techno-thrillers. A recent event, A Future Jozi, brought together three of their authors – Abi Godsell, Mico Pisanti, and Jason Werbeloff – to discuss why “Johannesburg is the best city in which to base the stories of our sci-fi rebels, our mutant karp”. Plenty of writers seem to agree with them.

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