Geoff Ryman

Part One: Lift Off

• A woman who is a walking advertisement
• A flying car from the future
• Fire comes to Uganda

‘Branded’ (2003) by Lauren Beukes (South Africa)
‘Warp’ (2004) by Ayodele Arigbabu (Nigeria)
‘Eden’s Burning’ (2008) by Doreen Baingana (Uganda)
‘Doppelgänger’ (2008) by Peter Kalu (Nigeria/UK)

‘Branded’ is the only story in this collection that is available online elsewhere. It is simply too important historically to be left out. Africans had written plenty of traditional belief speculation; there had been stories of alien intrusions or visions of Africa’s future before. ‘Branded’ was different because the generic content came out of direct experience of the commercial impact of new technology, new technology that was already being used in early 2000s in a distinctively African way. ‘Branded’ become a chapter in Lauren Beukes’s first novel Moxyland (2010). And is taken here as the starting point for the current cultural explosion.

‘Warp’ is another early story in the rise of African science fiction. It’s not a vision of an African future, but of a then-contemporary Lagos confronted by an intrusion from the future. Ayodele Arigbabu was then as now a tireless futurist in comics, theatre, and professional architecture. He became a publisher of his own and other people’s writing. This story went on to form part of the first African, single-author, mostly speculative fiction anthology A Fistful of Tales (2009). Read the interview with Ayodele in 100 Africans.

The two next stories come from the South African literary periodical Chimurenga, a double issue on black technology from 2008. It’s not a collection of science fiction per se. If anything it reveals an enormous desire for an African SFF to exist. ‘Eden Burning’ by Doreen Baingana is a model piece of traditional belief speculation, digging deep in a past to work with and re-imagine myth. ‘Doppelganger’ examines a single, simple human consequence of technological change. Read an interview with the editor of Chimurenga, Ntone Edjabe.

A year later 2009, Pumzi a short but full-on science fiction film from Kenya was released. Beautifully produced SFF with a strong story and great visuals, it showed that Africans did write SF. You can view the trailer or listen to an interview with Writer/Director Wanuri Kahuri. There was something distinctively East African in its artistic polish. Later in Part Six, we publish part of the script for one of these East African movies, Dilman Dila’s Her Broken Shadow.

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