Lagos_2060_cover_final

Edited and published by Ayodele Arigbabu, an architect, writer and creative technologist who works and lives in Lagos, Nigeria; Lagos 2060 has a contribution from him and from the following writers who participated in the science fiction workshop organized in 2010 from which the anthology emerged: Afolabi Muheez Ashiru, Okey Egboluche, Chiagozie Fred Nwonwu, Kofo Akib, Adebola Rayo, Terh Agbedeh, Temitayo Olofinlua.

Lagos_2060 edited by Ayodele Arigbabu

In 2010, eight writers came together to contribute stories to an anthology on fictional / futuristic takes on the city of Lagos via a workshop tagged LAGOS_2060, conceived to commemorate Nigeria's golden jubilee. The anthology that grew out of the workshop is telling in the different versions of the future it foretells.

In LAGOS_2060 - an unusual scenario planning exercise achieved through the power and magic of a creative writing programme - there are climate change induced natural disasters actively plugged by doomsday preachers of the day, there are serious government institutions involved in first rate science and more often than not, these institutions tackle and solve the energy crisis to various degrees of success. There are wars and near wars as Lagos threatens to secede from the Nigerian state to have full control of its own economy. There are robots, amphibious speed trains, psychedelic drugs and highly trained security operatives with conflicts of interest, but more importantly, there are the ubiquitous Lagos people, whose industry and inventiveness seems largely unchanged, despite how much their city has travailed in the intervening half century.

Curiosity about Lagos knows no end. Lagos is one of the most exciting cities in the world. The future of Lagos is closely linked to the future of the world given the rapid rate of urbanization in Africa, the shift in the economic center from the west and the reality that globalization has become; so everyone should be interested in what becomes of this behemoth of an urban experiment.

 

REVIEWS

  • "These stories engage with science and governance, city infrastructure and climate change, co-evolution of technology and social norms, urbanization and the future of global capitalism. Yet these scholarly themes emerge from stories that are first and foremost exciting, often romance-filled adventures. There are man-eating frogs and time-travel inducing herbs, girls with luminous tattoos and zero-gravity bedrooms, albeit in separate stories…

    – Review
  • Individual writers approached the remit to imagine the future of one of the world's greatest cities each with their own genre pallette and a remix of intellectual priorities. But what these stories share is a sense of dynamic liveliness that can only be a feature of a work in progress, their various literary forms reflective of the chaotic process by which the city itself is shaped. Their gift is the recklessness of trying out new things. These are pioneering works, regardless of how one decides to date science fiction in Nigeria...

    – Review
  • The collection is full of ideas pertinent not only to the future of Lagos but the future of humanity in general. The writers don't envision Lagos in isolation but as an integral part of the global economic and natural system. Their visions and hopes for Lagos, their individual philosophies and fears are expressed with humor and showmanship. Their ability to ask urgent questions about the direction we are heading is made invaluable by their skills to entertain."

    – Review
 

BOOK PREVIEW

Excerpt

PROLOGUE:

Science fiction provides an amazing avenue for catharsis, especially in an environment that has suffered stagnation for such a long time. Science fiction unhinges the mind and allows the writer to imagine ordinarily 'unthinkable' scenarios. The political stagnation Nigeria suffers can be interpreted within the context of a creative writing process; the nation's development has been stifled by a lack of imagination. The country remains bogged down in the present, enslaved to its past and quite shy of the future. With science fiction, writers who dare the future, give courage to others.

Fiction from Nigeria has gained world-wide prominence over the past century; however, despite the contributions of Nigerians all over the world to the furtherance of science, we have made limited input to the science fiction oeuvre. The LAGOS_2060 project was initiated to help tip the scale a little bit. In 2010, eight writers responded to a call and participated in a workshop process conceived to commemorate Nigeria's golden jubilee and aimed at stimulating an interest in science fiction writing. The writers were of different creative persuasions and at different levels in the development of their craft, but courageous enough to attempt to tackle sci-fi. We asked ourselves, what will Lagos evolve into in the next fifty years, taking into consideration the mega-city's rich history and on-going urban renewal efforts by the state government? What will it be like to live in Lagos one hundred years after Nigeria gained independence from the British?

Why Lagos? Well, Lagos is the city of the future. The architect and urban theorist Rem Koolhas and his Harvard Project on the City team are credited with the discovery of an unfolding anomaly. After several helicopter rides, breathtaking aerial photographs, a couple of mind bending books and perhaps some yoga, the theorists postulated that all other cities are aspiring towards Lagos' self-correcting, chaos driven urbanization patterns. They had discovered a closely guarded secret known to only a select few. They had found out that Lagos is the centre of the universe.

Curiosity about Lagos knows no end. Lagos is one of the most exciting cities in the world. The future of Lagos is closely linked to the future of the world given the rapid rate of urbanization in Africa, the shift in the economic center from the west and the reality that globalization has become; so everyone should be interested in what becomes of this behemoth of an urban experiment.

There were lots of science fiction references out there, however, the fact that we were relatively starting from tabula rasa as Nigerian writers, meant that we could take whatever liberties we liked; because we were not bogged down by any existing models, we could very well create our own models for science fiction writing. Lagos lends itself to experimentation and improvisation; we drew from the chaotic freedom the city offers to the best of our abilities.

The anthology that grew out of the workshop is telling in the different versions of the future it foretells. In Lagos_2060 - an unusual scenario planning exercise achieved through the power and magic of a creative writing programme - there are climate change induced natural disasters actively plugged by doomsday preachers of the day, there are serious government institutions involved in first rate science and more often than not, these institutions tackle and solve the energy crisis to various degrees of success. There are wars and near wars as Lagos threatens to secede from the Nigerian state to have full control of its own economy. There are robots, amphibious speed trains, psychedelic drugs and highly trained security operatives with conflicts of interest, but more importantly, there are the ubiquitous Lagos people, whose industry and inventiveness seems largely unchanged, despite how much their city has travailed in the intervening half century.

The whole aim of the workshop we had in 2010 was to stimulate creative minds to exceed themselves in fiction writing. However, that stimulation can still be useful in birthing the creation of more works in other media that easily lend themselves to science fiction, media such as film, comic books and computer games. These are possibilities we hoped to be able to explore in future.

The future is already here.

- Ayodele Arigbabu.

Lagos, Nigeria.