Reactions to “Is science fiction coming to Africa?”

At one point in my life – my teens and early twenties – I was a devoted science fiction reader. It was one of the genres that I used to borrow a lot of from the local public libraries I patronized – either the Cleveland Park  or Friendship Heights  branches of the DC public library system (at least as they existed in the mid 1960s and early 1970s). I think I pretty well exhausted whatever stock they had! And though I haven’t read as much in the years since that time, I still buy and/or read the occasion SF.

Last weekend (17 June) I was doing my usual Sunday morning activities of tidying up and cleaning, with the BBC World Service on in the background when I heard a trailer for a programme coming up just after the news: “Is science fiction coming to Africa”, plus I thought I heard a voice I recognized… Naturally I listened a bit more carefully.

I was thrilled to hear that one of the key people featured on the programme was Jonathan Dotse (http://www.afrocyberpunk.com), a third year student at Ashesi University College (where I work), who has published short stories and is writing a science fiction novel, set in Accra – which many of us are avidly awaiting.

Plus I had actually read the presenter of the programme, Lauren Beukes’ prizewinning novel, Zoo City, though I do admit that I found some bits of it a little difficult to follow. I have also read one of Nnedi Okorafor’s novels, Zahrah the windseeker, and have several others on my wish list.

Admittedly on the film side, I haven’t done so well – I haven’t seen District 9 [was it on DSTV and I missed it? probably? possibly?] and my curiosity is certainly piqued regarding Pumzi.

So what does this mean for this book lover? Naturally I have to follow up – maybe even order a book by Okorafor which I haven’t read? and also try to watch a couple of African SF films!

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Science fiction

Not long ago I was browsing in the Silverbird bookshop, which is actually called Silverbird Lifestyle (or something like that) when I came across a real classic in the science fiction section:   William Gibson’s 1984 novel Neuromancer.  Looked at the blurb and realised that I had never actually read it – somehow there wasn’t very much SF in either Ghana Library Board or British Council in Kumasi during the 1980s.  Yet here was the book that was known to have brought to the fore a term such as cyberspace – where some of us spend a large percentage of our working time.   

I haven’t finished it yet, but it is curiously contemporary in the way good SF can be.  One can also see the influence it had on some SF/fantasy films which have come out in the last twenty-five years.  

I did check for some background info from Wikipedia (where else?) though I will look in a few other places as well.

I do have to admit that it is a little strange reading SF after so many years of very little of it.   I have to ask around to see if I can find some more to either buy or borrow.