Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Shawl (ed.), New Suns (2019)

Nisi Shawl (ed.), New Suns: Original Speculative Fiction by People of Colour. Rebellion Publishing, 2019. Pp. 308. ISBN 978-1-78108-638-4. £8.99.

Reviewed by Cait Coker

In her Afterword to New Suns: Original Speculative Fiction by People of Colour, editor Nisi Shawl explains the genesis of this anthology as stemming from a thwarted suggestion, years ago, to have a class of the Clarion West Writers Workshop consist of all students of color. Other committee members opposed the idea, including one who argued that they would “use them all up” in a single year and therefore it made sense to spread out nonwhite attendees for other years. The persistent belief, reflected in this account, that SFF is a genre primarily by and for white people has only recently begun to be dismantled, making collections like this one both a celebration of POC writers and a useful remedy for readers. The book is also firmly reflective of the political moment in America, going beyond the crises in popular culture from Racefail to Puppygate, with veiled (and not so veiled) references to Trump’s demagoguery and other sociopolitical tensions. The collection also encompasses both fantasy and science fiction stories, providing stories that hint at hope and at dystopia.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Bosman, Gay Noir (2018)

Olivier Bosman, Gay Noir: Three noir mysteries with a gay twist. Self-published, 2018. Pp. 336. ISBN 978-1-726364-30-0. $12.99.

Reviewed by N.A. Jackson

This collection of three novellas by Olivier Bosman lives up to its title: the stories all feature gay characters, they are very noirish and pretty mysterious, although like all detective fiction, the mysteries are fully revealed in the end. There’s something dated about, Bosman’s fiction that’s to do with more than his historical settings. His style is reminiscent of the pulp fiction writers of the 40s and 50s, authentically spare and undescriptive. The action proceeds in relentless black, white and sepia tones, few are the flashes of colour or flickers of humour that leaven the characters’ moods as they saunter, swagger or rush purposefully from one scene to the next. And this does make it very ‘noir.’ For purists, this treatment will doubtless appeal. And there’s something undeniably satisfying about the way, his protagonists circumvent plot obstacles by making a sudden fortuitous discovery or winking at the right person.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Leib & Holt (edd.), Resist Fascism (2018)

Bart R. Leib & Kay T. Holt (edd.), Resist Fascism. Crossed Genres Publications, 2018. Pp. 95. ISBN 978-0-9913921-4-8. $9.99.

Reviewed by Valeria Vitale

Resist Fascism is a micro-anthology, published by Crossed Genres last November after a successful Kickstarter. The idea was to put together a little squad of rebellious stories to be distributed just in time for the US midterm election. What I liked the most in this project is that, as editors Leib and Holt explain on the back cover, the anthology is based on the principle that you don’t need to be a hero to resist, and even actively oppose, fascism. Fighting oppressive and unjust regimes does not necessarily mean joining an armed guerrilla and blowing up bridges; it can be a small act of disobedience, or any other way in which someone chins up and refuses to follow a law or a system they believe unfair. In other words, resistance is for everyone. We don’t need to wait until we are ready, we already are.

Tuesday, January 08, 2019

Rooke, The Space Between (2017)

Susan Rooke, The Space Between: The Prophecy of the Faeries. Self-published, 2017. Pp. 435. ASIN B074Q4Y6PQ. $16.95.

Reviewed by Psyche Z. Ready

Rooke is a deft writer. Her prose in this, her first novel, is graceful, poetic, and readable. The plot is well-arranged, compelling, and surprising. For such a complex story, the world-building is not cumbersome, a difficult feat to pull off. Another strength of this book is its unique amalgamation of Christian narratives and faerie folklore. It’s an exciting idea, and Rooke weaves them together so that it seems natural. Her novel is imaginative, well-written, and well-plotted. I expect that Rooke has a writing future ahead of her; in fact, the sequel to The Space Between is due out in January 2019.

Tuesday, January 01, 2019

Barbini (ed.), Evolution of African Fantasy and Science Fiction (2018)

Francesca T. Barbini (ed.), The Evolution of African Fantasy and Science Fiction. Luna Press, 2018. Pp. 111. ISBN 978-1-911143-51-2. $15.99.

Reviewed by Djibril al-Ayad

This short book, published under the Academia Lunare imprint of Luna Press Publishing, contains five essays on aspects of SFF created by Africans, in Africa, or containing representations of Africa or Africans. It is not really a book about “evolution” of African speculative fiction, although the first three papers do discuss historical writing and modern developments, but it is nevertheless a fascinating and important first step in a history of scholarship of this under-appreciated section of the genre. I would like to see a dedicated academic journal publishing an issue of this scale once or twice per year (and emphatically not only in English).