2012 promises to be an eventful year, with many exciting developments across the African continent, my own novel aside. I’d like to recap some of the high points of 2011 and take a look at some of the latest developments in African science fiction. Last summer, I was quite honored to meet the acquaintance of acclaimed British sf novelist Alastair Reynolds on a rather impromptu trip to London. He’s a pleasant fellow with a genuine love for his work, and I only just discovered that his latest work, Blue Remembered Earth, will be released on the 19th of January. I’ve had a look at an early draft of the novel and was quite impressed by the world he’s created, in which the future of African continent is re-imagined in ways that simply haven’t been done before.
One hundred and fifty years from now, in a world where Africa is the dominant technological and economic power, and where crime, war, disease and poverty have been banished to history, Geoffrey Akinya wants only one thing: to be left in peace, so that he can continue his studies into the elephants of the Amboseli basin. But Geoffrey’s family, the vast Akinya business empire, has other plans. After the death of Eunice, Geoffrey’s grandmother, erstwhile space explorer and entrepreneur, something awkward has come to light on the Moon, and Geoffrey is tasked – well, blackmailed, really – to go up there and make sure the family’s name stays suitably unblemished. But little does Geoffrey realise – or anyone else in the family, for that matter – what he’s about to unravel. Eunice’s ashes have already have been scattered in sight of Kilimanjaro. But the secrets she died with are about to come back out into the open, and they could change everything. Or shatter this near-utopia into shards . . .
My stay in London really was far too short, but I was able lucky enough to catch a special screening at the British Library of the Pumzi movie, a braekthrough African sci-fi film with strong echoes of Logan’s Run, which I particularly enjoyed. It was a rare to opportunity for dialogue with the director herself, Wanuri Kahiu as well as superwoman Dr. Maggie Aderin-Pocock, celebrated Nigerian-born astronomer. Also represented in the audience were the ubiquitous FOKN Bois, an avante-garde Ghanaian hip-hop duo, perhaps best described as ‘strict sub-Saharan psychomental.’ And of course, afropolitan guru and DJ, Kobby Graham, DUST Magazine editor and ‘funky professor’ at Ashesi University, wasn’t too far from the scene. In case you missed it, here’s the trailer for the Pumzi movie:
Sc-Fi film about futuristic Africa, 35 years after World War III –The Water War. Nature is extinct. The outside is dead. Asha lives and works as a museum curator in one of the indoor communities set up by the Maitu Council. When she receives a box in the mail containing soil, she plants an old seed in it and the seed starts to germinate instantly. Asha appeals to the Council to grant her permission to investigate the possibility of life on the outside but the Council denies her exit visa. Asha breaks out of the inside community to go into the dead and derelict outside to plant the growing seedling and possibly find life on the outside.
The Pumzi screening also yielded the discovery of another priceless gem; a high-concept 3D animation short by London-based Kibwe Tavares, called Robots of Brixton.
Brixton has degenerated into a disregarded area inhabited by London’s new robot workforce – robots built and designed to carry out all of the tasks which humans are no longer inclined to do. The mechanical population of Brixton has rocketed, resulting in unplanned, cheap and quick additions to the skyline. The film follows the trials and tribulations of young robots surviving at the sharp end of inner city life, living the predictable existence of a populous hemmed in by poverty, disillusionment and mass unemployment. When the Police invade the one space which the robots can call their own, the fierce and strained relationship between the two sides explodes into an outbreak of violence echoing that of 1981.
If you saw my previous post, you know that we’re now counting down to the Kindle release of Accra. In tune with my own slightly improvisational take on the business of selling books, I managed to secure an editor in the person of a close family friend; an English professor at the University of Ghana and a remarkably brilliant woman who’s just radical enough for the part. The promotional video was shot and edited by Yaw Osei, a film student NAFTI (National Film and Television Institute) and talented CGI artist behind Clockwork. He’s also the developing the cover image for the novel, which you can now see for the first time:
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