A Tunnel in the Sky

Like templetongate.net on Facebook  Follow @templetongate on Twitter
-Site Search

Africa Risen: A New Era of Speculative Fiction
Edited by Sheree Renée Thomas, Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki, and Zelda Knight

Reviewed by Galen Strickland
Posted July 24, 2023

Buy from Bookshop or Amazon. A purchase through our links may earn us a commission.

Africa Risen is an anthology containing thirty-two stories by African writers, as well as those from the African diaspora. Countries represented are Nigeria, Uganda, Senegal, Kenya, Ghana, and Egypt. Emigrants, or descendants of emigrants, represent the UK and the Americas, including the US, Canada, and the Caribbean. I may be missing a few locations, but you can see that covers a wide range of countries, cultures, and perspectives. I have worked on different versions of this review, but decided not to go into detail about individual stories, mainly because I don't think I can do them justice. I also won't identify the two stories I didn't finish, since they might turn out to be someone else's favorite. I will say the book is highly recommended overall, and it is possible a re-read could change my opinion of certain stories.

It won a Locus Award earlier this year for best anthology, and both Thomas and Ekpeki are nominated separately for Hugos as Best Editor, Short Form. For Thomas that would include her work as current editor of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. Knight shares that Locus win, as well as a British Fantasy win with Ekpeki for another anthology two years ago. Ekpeki has won or been nominated for his own fiction, but none of those stories are included in this anthology, which I am sure is limited to stories solicited for this book. I had read only one before, Tananarive Due's "Ghost Ship," first published here last year, but also included in her Wishing Pool collection earlier this year. Only one story has been nominated on its own, Wole Talabi's “A Dream of Electric Mothers,” up for a Hugo, and previously a finalist for Nebula and Locus. It should not be discouraging if you see the Table of Contents which includes many authors you are not familiar with. I had previously read only six of them, with four others I had heard about even if I had not read them yet.

As I said above, I won't detail each story, or even my favorites, since all deserve to be read and appreciated without my comments. I went back to the dedications and introductions to confirm something Ekpeki posted on Facebook recently is not included, but I think it bears repeating: "Just because it has African spirituality doesn't make it fantasy." I'm glad they used my preferred term in the subtitle, speculative fiction, but for those who don't subscribe to particular spiritual beliefs some of the stories could read as fantasy. Others are definitely science fiction, either post-apocalyptic dystopias on Earth, or set in space, with one somewhat of a Doctor Who pastiche (the TARDIS is mentioned). Talabi's story might be considered a futuristic utopia by some. Others are set in our past, during slavery in the US or Caribbean, or closer to present day, one including a reference to a very significant historical event. Wherever the diaspora took Africans, their traditions and beliefs followed, even though they may have undergone some changes, perhaps merged with another culture's beliefs, and future events might bring other changes.

I think the title is accurate. It is not "Africa Rising," or "Africa Will Rise." Africa has Risen! It is here to speak its truths. African writers are here to stay, and they should be appreciated for what they have to say. Regardless of where you are from, it is important to understand other perspectives. It is like the proverbial, "walk a mile in someone else's shoes." Or in this case, read the various ideas expressed by a wide range of authors from cultures different than your own. Even if you are from one of the represented cultures, you might also be able to see things from a perspective you had not considered before. Read this book. It will be worth it.


We would appreciate your support for this site with your purchases from Amazon.com, Bookshop.org, and ReAnimusPress.


Sheree Renée Thomas,
Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki,
Zelda Knight

November 15, 2022

See review for details

Purchase Links:

A purchase through our links may earn us a commission.