The Future God of Love is a romance fantasy, set in an African world where stories are essential for the survival of humanity.
Jamaaro, a struggling storyteller, is the future god of love and must create a story every full moon for the prosperity of his town.
When he falls in love with a strange woman, having known loneliness all his life, he ignores the clues that she might not be what she seems.
Film maker and author, it seems there is nothing Dilma Dila can't do. Here he offers a brand new African-set fantasy novella with some tremendous world-building, a part of the exciting novella series from Luna Press. – Lavie Tidhar
"Dilman Dila has written a timeless novel about doomed love, using supple and evocative language in the style of Neil Gaiman, Kazuo Ishiguro, and Stefan Zweig…. A truly original story set in a world at once immersive, believable, and fun to be in, read it not just for the deceptively absorbing plot, nor the refreshing Africanized cultural context, nor even for the subtle social commentary—but for the fact that it effortlessly transports you to a world far, far away that nonetheless feels very close to home."– Strange Horizons
"The Future God of Love is a short fantasy novella, with wonderful world building, about loneliness and the need for being loved... The Future God of Love is less than a hundred pages, but Dila packs so much in those pages that it is an absolute pleasure to read... Any reader who's looking for a short read with impressive world building, great storytelling and characters you can relate to should absolutely check out The Future God of Love!"– The Middle Shelf
"Dilman Dila is a great worldbuilder…. I still enjoyed the novella. I could happily read more stories set in this world…or any other worlds Dila creates."– Punk-Ass Book Jockey
Jamaaro sat on a soft, cow-skin mat, staring idly at a moth as it danced around a tadooba flame. Only a little oil remained in the lamp and it emitted more soot than light, filling his hut with a faint smell of onions. The oil can sat on a bookshelf at the other end of the room, yet he could not summon energy to refill the tadooba. He saw himself as a wounded rooster, lying in the yard, waiting for a knife – her voice – to slice his neck. The voice would come from wang oo, where elders had gathered to hear her audition for resident storyteller. The breeze rattled the half-open window, and murmurs filtered in. The elders were already excited, though her show had not begun. He overheard one giving her a pet name, Nyadwe, the daughter of the moon, for she was so, so beautiful. Another claimed that she had a captivating voice that made people float above the world like happy birds. A third elder said she was such a gifted storyteller that she did not need an actor to narrate her story, nor did she need musicians and dancers and performers. She did it all by herself, relying on her voice. That enchanting voice.
"Kwaro sent her to be the laboki of Wendo town," one elder said, raising his voice to make sure Jamaaro could hear him. The others fell silent for a moment, as if waiting for Jamaaro's response, and then they continued praising Nyadwe.
A long time ago, after his breakout story, elders had said that kwaro had blessed him with a rare gift, and so they made him the new laboki even though the resident storyteller was doing well. But they were saying this of her even before she auditioned, and he knew it was because he had failed to give them any good story for the last thirty moons.
He wanted to hate her for she would take away his job, but he was thankful that the ancestors had sent someone to put him out of his misery. He would not have to suffer anymore, to create a new story every full moon, for it would now be her duty. The town needed a new story regularly for stories kept the darkness away, stories made them to remember what life had been like yesterday, and to imagine what life would be like tomorrow. Stories were spiritual food and the town was starving. They survived on his old stories, eating and regurgitating and eating them in a desperate loop, but these could not give them new dreams. They supplemented this stale diet by borrowing stories from other towns, but to be happy they needed stories set in Wendo, with characters unique to their town.
Without any new and good stories, the town would die.
If he was an ordinary laboki, they would already have gotten rid of him. He was a future god, and this helped to keep the town alive for it made his stale stories palatable.
He became a future kwaro when he was still a boy, just as his beard had started to sprout. At that time he was struggling through a traumatic childhood and was not even thinking about being a laboki. He feared he would end up a drunkard like his father, or hopeless like his elder brother, who killed himself because he could not afford dowry to marry. Though at that time Jamaaro still had a few seasons before he could think of marriage, he worried that no woman would want to be his wife because he could not afford bridal wealth.
He had begun to imagine what love would be like if there was no bride price. Would people still put a price on everything? Would fathers treat their daughters like cattle, and would wedding ceremonies still be some kind of slave markets? He then created a story, Children of the Wound, in which he painted his vision of marriage. He first performed it at a market, hoping for nothing more than a few cowrie shells to buy himself lunch, but his performance captivated the entire market and the rwot invited him to audition. Once he told the story properly, with music and dance and animated images, people begun to dream of the world he had imagined. Within a few moons, bride price was outlawed and weddings ceased being markets. If any dowry was involved, it was a gift that the groom's family gave as they pleased and as they could afford.
The universal success of the story secured him a high status as a kwaro of love. Upon his death, they would build shrines in his honour. People would worship him and ask him to bless their love affairs and their marriages. His name was already important in marriage rituals, and his songs had become a central part of courtship dances and weddings.
And yet, he never found anyone to love him.
He sometimes blamed it on the pressure to create a new story every full moon, to give people new histories, new memories, new meanings in their lives. To keep the town dreaming happy dreams. He had done so well until he burned out. Now he could not produce anything good anymore, and it was killing the town. People were having less and less beautiful dreams, and some had begun to complain of nightmares. Worse, some people were having blank sleeps with no dreams, as if they were dead. Fewer birds flew to their forests, and they had not seen butterflies or bees in a while. Festivities were dull, almost as if every gathering was a funeral, for a thick mist of unhappiness hung over their town. Already, since the last full moon, two families had migrated.
They needed a new storyteller.