December 21st, 2016


AfroSF: Science Fiction by African Writers, ed. Ivor W. Hartmann

Second paragraph of third story ("The Sale", by Tendai Huchu):
He entered the tall glass building, formerly the reserve bank building, and told the heavy at the door that he had an appointment. A lift took him up to the top floor with sweeping views of the city. A TV screen in the lobby was tuned to the Voice of Truth. The PA for the Minister for Native Affairs, Anna Kansasian picked up her apparat, spoke into it, and told Mr. Munyuki that the minister was going to be tied up much longer than anticipated. His appointment had been rescheduled for tomorrow afternoon.
Lots of good stories here, some by writers who I had heard of, many that I hadn't. One or two fell slightly flat, sticking too close to standard sf tropes without bringing much extra to them. But most of them were very good - there is an early pairing of "Home Affairs" by Sarah Lotz and "The Sale" by Tendai Huchu which both look at bureaucracy; "Azania", by Nick Woods, looks at colonisation both in the sfnal and geopolitical senses; "Brandy City", by Mia Arderne, looks at virtual reality and addiction; and the closing novella, "Proposition 23" by Efe Okogu, has a world where citizenship and the right to live are being eroded by technology. I find it immensely reassuring of the future of sf that it speaks as a genre to many writers from the oldest of the continents, and I hope that European and American fandom can start to draw more from this well of talent.

This was the top book by a non-white author(s) on my pile. Since then I've acquired A Suitable Boy which will be next on that list.

Angels & Visitations: A Miscellany, by Neil Gaiman

Third story (depending how you count) in full:
Nicholas Was...

older than sin, and his beard could grow no whiter. He wanted to die.

The dwarfish natives of the Arctic caverns did not speak his language, but conversed in their own, twittering tongue, conducted incomprehensible rituals, when they were not actually working in the factories.

Once every year they forced him, sobbing and protesting, into Endless Night. During the journey he would stand near every child in the world, leave one of the dwarves' invisible gifts by its bedside. The children slept, frozen into time.

He envied Prometheus and Loki, Sisyphus and Judas. His punishment was harsher.



This seasonal drabble is one of the pieces I had read before, first collected in 1993 in Angels and Visitations, re-released last year as part of the Gaiman ebook bundle which I got cheap. At that point Gaiman had published half of Sandman, also Black Orchid, the Books of Magic and (with Terry Pratchett) Good Omens, and was obviously a rising star but not quite as stellar as he has since become. So a lot of these pieces are journeyman work, but none the less interesting as we see him work out a few ideas whihc he returned to later and better. The story that lingers most with me is "Looking for the Girl", about an eternally young nude model, originally published in Penthouse. There is also some poetry and a couple of essays (one on Mary Gentle, one on Father Brown). There are some lovely illustrations as well. I am not a Gaiman completist so won't look out for this in hard copy, but am glad to have it in pixel form.

This was both the top book on my shelf bought in 2015 and the top unread sf book recommended by you guys last year. Next on the first of those lists is The Humans, by Matt Haig; next on the second is A Fall of Stardust, again by Neil Gaiman, but that list will get rejigged in my end-of-year survey.