Space, the astronomical wilderness that has enthralled our minds since we first looked up in wonder. We are ineffably drawn to it, and equally terrified by it. We have created endless mythologies, sciences, and even religions, in the quest to understand it. We know more now than ever before and are taking our first real steps. What will become of Africans out there, will we thrive, how will space change us, how will we change it? AfroSFv3 is going out there, into the great expanse, and with twelve African visions of the future we invite you to sit back, strap in, and enjoy the ride.
Table of Contents
Ivor W. Hartmann Intro
T. L. Huchu 'Njuzu'
Cristy Zinn 'The Girl who stared at Mars'
Mandisi Nkomo 'The Emo Hunter'
Biram Mboob 'The Luminal Frontier'
Gabriella Muwanga 'The Far Side'
Wole Talabi 'Drift Flux'
Stephen Embleton 'Journal of a DNA Pirate'
Masimba Musodza 'The Interplanetary Water Company'
Dilman Dila 'Safari Nyota'
Mazi Nwonwu 'Parental Control'
Andrew C. Dakalira 'Inhabitable'
Mame Bougouma Diene 'Ogotemmeli's Song'
"The third in this pioneering series with an honour roll of some of African writing's biggest names contributing. Unmissable."– Geoff Ryman, author, awarded the Nebula, two-time Arthur C. Clarke, three-time BSFA, two-time Canadian Sunburst, as well as the Campbell, Philip K. Dick, and James Tiptree Jr., awards
"The compelling, graceful stories in AfroSFv3 embrace a generous spectrum of places and peoples, eras and objectives. From sophisticated space operas to gritty cyberpunk streets; from day-after-tomorrow beginnings to far-off futures; from familial closeness to alien vastness, these well-wrought tales, infused with all the sharp, bright, enticing flavors of their African origins, show us the commonality of our species across all racial, ethnic and gender lines. Truly, these writers speak the same science fiction tongue as their like-minded cousins from the rest of the planet, with beautiful accents of their native soil."– Paul Di Filippo, author of Cosmocopia, The Steampunk Trilogy, and others
"With stories ranging from mundane science fiction to distant space opera passing from post-colonial biopunk and new family ties, the latest book of in the AfroSF series shows that inclusivity and multiculturality is the key to the future. As quality storytelling - rooted in every culture and tradition – doesn't belong to a single country or language, these stories prove that the future - as evident as it might sound although not always considered so - does happen everywhere. Excellent reading!"– Francesco Verso, author of Nexhuman and editor of Future Fiction
"Hartmann's space-themed anthology taps into the vein of SF that we already know and love: celebrating the universe's grandeur and possibility. From space opera to high-flying hard SF, AfroSFv3 covers all the bases. But AfroSFv3's writers bring new talent—and new perspectives—to the familiar."– Jared Shurin, Tor
"All 12 stories present the most daring imaginations of Africans in outer space. In AfroSFv3, the third installment of Ivor Hartman's famed anthology, the astronomical wildness of space bows to the African logic of world-making and storytelling."– Ainehi Edoro, Brittle Paper
"I heartily recommend this latest volume of stories. There is plenty to enjoy for everyone. This volume pushes the envelope further into the stratosphere and forces the reader to reflect on these questions of identity and the authenticity of stories. This volume is an interesting mix of thinking [...] they redefine with confidence and muscle the notion of space, boundaries and memory, and the result is a book worth the read."– Ikihide R. Ikheloa, Brittle Paper
Water looks the same everywhere. It's only the background, lighting, and impurities, that differ. I peer at the silver-grey surface of Bimha's pond, calm and still, undisturbed by wind. It's deep and the bottom is a black abyss. Midday here is like dawn on Earth in the middle of the Kalahari. Light shines through the transparent panelling of the pressurised geodesic dome that prevents the water boiling straight into vapour.
'This is where it happened,' VaMutasa says to me on the crackling open channel.
We can't take off our helmets because the atmosphere within the dome is not fit to breathe. I take a step closer.
'Careful,' Tarisai whispers.
A trail of small footprints runs beside me. We followed it here, but where we stop, it carries on, bravely, foolishly.
'This is where it happened,' VaMutasa says once more, as if to convince himself.
The icy brown soil under my boots feels hard. Each movement I make is slow and considered. A white plume of steam rises from the outlet pipes a kilometre or two away, the far end of the pond. Thirty million gallons of water cycle in and out of the Nharira Nuclear Fusion Plant nearby. Superheated steam is deposited into the ground, liquified and the cold water is cycled back to the plant via insulated pipes.
I close my eyes and take deep breaths, fighting the sickness threatening to void my stomach. My chest feels tight, tied with an iron band, and I reach to remove my helmet so I can breathe. My husband grabs my arms:
'Remember where you are,' Tarisai says. 'I told you this would do no good.'
The tone of her voice is reproachful and she's angry, a dam waiting to burst. But on the open channel, with everyone listening in, we save the argument for later, piled up with the rest of the little tears and scraps every marriage sweeps under the bulging carpet.
I must be polite; the muroora, daughter-in-law, is not just married to one person. The bond of matrimony ties her to everyone in the clan, both the living and the dead.
'It's important, whatever you do, you mustn't cry,' VaMutasa says. 'The njuzu won't let him go otherwise.'
'My son's just drowned and you're talking about mythical creatures?' I snarl but hold my tears all the same. Even though I know it's superstition, something inside checks me, because, with the chips where they lie, all I can do is hedge.
'One of the technicians, Chisumbanje, fell in the water twenty years ago. For three days, we couldn't find him. Then, when he came back, he was a powerful n'anga without equal in the Belt. He saw her, the njuzu. She's in there,' a woman's voice says, but I don't recognise it.
'Whatever you do, you must-not-cry,' VaMutasa says, this time in a firm voice. 'We'll prepare the rites.'
He is my father-in-law, Tarisai's father, the head of the Mutasa clan. Their fortune is made from farming the desert and selling water—hydrogen and oxygen—to wayfarers passing through to worlds beyond.