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Mothership: Tales From Afrofuturism and Beyond
Edited by Bill Campbell and Edward Austin Hall
Cover Artist: John Jennings
Review by Sam Tomaino
Rosarium Publishing Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780989141147
Date: 22 July 2013

Links: Pubisher's Website / Show Official Info /

I have been sent a pdf of Mothership: Tales from Afrofuturism and Beyond which the description states "sets a bold new course for anthologies by showcasing the work from some of the most talented writers inside and outside speculative fiction. The authors in this anthology have earned such literary honors as the Pulitzer Prize, the American Book Award, the Hugo, the Nebula, and the Bram Stoker, among others. They have garnered numerous accolades and have sold millions of books around the world. Many of their names are likely to be new to you; Mothership is your invitation to get acquainted with them and their writing."

The books has 376 pages with 15 new (or new to 2013) stories and 25 reprinted stories. As my usual policy, I will review the new stories and the one that is reprinted from a 2013 anthology. Here are the new stories:

Kawika Guillermo's "The Last of Its Kind" -+- The last magician hunts the last dragon in the days of a decaying imperium. Sad, poignant tale.

Thaddeus Howze's "Bludgeon" -+- When the Hurumpharump appear in 50-mile wide spaceships over Earth and proclaim that, since Earth cannot possibly compete with them, that according to the Galactic Treaties of Confederation the Earth must surrender and become agricultural slaves that will result in 50% of the population dying in the first year. Our narrator, an anthropologist advising the President, asks them about these treaties and it is determined that the humans can challenge the aliens to a contest of skill. The aliens agree and the contest suggested is -- Baseball! We get a nice story about the greatest game ever played with a twist at the end, although it's one we've seen before.

Ibi Zoboi's "The Farming of Gods" -+- Our narrator, Inno (short for Innocent) is a Haitian in a Haiti which has not seen the birth of a child in more than 10 years. Scientists from outside have found a curious kind of golden lava-like substance that they use to start repopulating the country. What results is monstrous, but Inno's wife (who bore the "babies") accepts them as her children. Inno is not so sure. Good solid tale combining Vodoun culture and science.

Carmen Maria Machado's "The Hungry Earth" -+- Before the world ends, the carnival ends. Mankind has spliced animals and humans and created bird-men and pig-men and the cow-men. People do not eat anymore, nutrients are pumped into people as long as their credit lasts. People do not even move around. Eventually, everything returns to nature. A chilling look at the future, very effective.

Chinelo Onwualu's "The Homecoming" -+- Maltoush is a native of the country the Civilized Men have taken over. He is a servant in the house of a soldier and his wife. The master of the house has been away for a long time and when he returns, the wife finds him changed. There is much that is hinted here, who the Civilized Men are and what Maltoush is. It makes the whole story something different and interesting.

Indrapramit Das' "The Runner of n-Vamana" was previously published in Bloodchildren: Stories by the Octavia E. Butler Scholars (ed. Nisi Shawl), January 2013) and I will review it as it is a 2013 story. -+- Mira has been running for four days and she is halfway around the planetoid n-Vamana where her people have settled. She has been enhanced with nanos to help her to live on the planetoid and pave the way for others. She is also the only family her little brother Ela has. She becomes one with the planet. Nice little internal thought piece.

Rochita Loenen-Ruiz's "Waking the God of the Mountain" -+- Our narrator, Laum Lay, lives in village near a mountain that they believe is in the keeping of the god Batungbayanin (which is part of Philippine mythology). The people she calls machine men work for some corporation that has taken the town over with the help of soldiers. But the people invoke their god of the mountain and things are not so easy for the corporation. Nice look at a native people.

C. Renee Stephens' "Culling the Herd" -+- Our narrator feels a connection with an Egyptian goddess. This has an important effect on her life. It can have even greater effect on the people around her. Another good little short story.

Joseph Bruchac's "Dances with Ghosts" -+- Harley Bigbear is a decorated Gulf and Iraq War veteran, a half-Kwasuck, half-Kiowa living on a Kwasuck reservation with a profitable casino. However, the ghost he sees are real and he decides he must do something about them. The surprise of the story is whom the ghosts are. The story is also enhanced by a real feel for Native American culture. Really well done story.

Andaiye Reeves' "Othello Pop" -+- A brief tale about a future in which policemen called the Shields enforce laws against people of color but there is always a way around the law. Pretty good.

Anil Menon's "The Parrot's Tale" -+- In the land known as Tamil Nadu live a young woman named Shanti and her old Brahmin husband, Sankara. Sankara is a renowned pundit, a storyteller. Shanti is illiterate so Sankra constantly tells her stories to improve her. One day he has a mystical experience meeting two parrots who are really something else. A nice little fairy tale.

Tade Thompson's "One Hundred and Twenty Days of Sunlight" -+- Our narrator begins the story by being dug up by a witch doctor. He finds himself in the middle of a modern day war. He tells us his story, his family history, and growing up in a small village. Then, one day people the local witch doctor calls parasites start draining people's blood and the whole village must wipe them out. He winds up in the hut of a woman friend of his, an "albino" named Kemi. It turns out she is one of the parasites and she bites him. He becomes, of course, one of them, a vampire. More story follows and we get a great atmospheric tale in a setting we have not seen before.

Greg Tate's "Angels + Cannibals Unite" -+- Our narrator is a woman who calls herself Mojo Bon Bon and was part of the crew of Mojo Raj VooDoo Vindaloo Food Services, which sells food at Yankee Stadium and throughout the five boroughs of New York City. When her boss sees a spaceship crash into the Harlem River and a being they all call an "angeloid" that they name Chris emerges. Chris proceeds to eat his own injured arm and this aids in his recovery. He offers his body to be eaten by Mojo Raj and eventually the rest of the crew, all who feel wonderful in different ways. The body regenerates. Then, the other angeloids come down to retrieve Chris, zapping two of the crew who won't stop eating. A truly bizarre and wonderful story.

Lisa Allen-Agostini's "A Fine Specimen" -+- Our narrator is a young woman who meets a special kind of man during J'Ouvert, the really uninhibited Monday of Carnival. Her description of her experience shows that the man is truly otherworldly. The story is brief but what really makes it good is the language that it's written in. It's a little different from standard English but very rich in description and not hard to understand. A truly fine story.

Katherena Vermette's "The Buzzing" -+- The buzzing follows the loud bombs dropped on the city. No one can hear anything but the buzzing, this levels all classes. A sad, but effective, little two-pager.

Those are the new stories and they are all good. Here is a list of the reprinted stories:
Victor LaValle - "I Left My Heart in Skaftafell"
N.K. Jemisin - "Too Many Yesterdays, Not Enough Tomorrows"
Ernest Hogan - "Skin Dragons Talk"
Rabih Alameddine - "The Half-Wall"
Lauren Beukes - "Unathi Battles the Black Hairballs"
Charles R. Saunders - "Amma"
Ran Walker - "The Voyeur"
Vandana Singh - "Life-pod"
Tobias Buckell - "Four Eyes"
Silvia Moreno-Garcia - "The Death Collector"
Kiini Ibura Salaam - "Bio-Anger"
Minister Faust - "In the Belly of the Crocodile"
Linda D. Addison - "Live and Let Live"
S.P. Somtow - "The Pavilion of Frozen Women"
Darius James - "Un Aperitivo Col Diavolo"
Sofia Samatar - "A Brief History of Nonduality Studies"
Daniel José Older - "Protected Entity"
Eden Robinson - "Northern Lights"
Carlos Hernandez - "The Aphotic Ghost"
Farnoosh Moshiri - "The Pillar"
Jaymee Goh - "Between Islands"
George S. Walker - "Fées des Dents"
Tenea D. Johnson - "The Taken"
Junot Díaz - "Monstro"
Nisi Shawl - "Good Boy"
At least based on the new stories, this is a great collection. I'm sure the reprinted stories are equally worthy. I heartily recommend this volume. You can see about ordering it at the publisher's website (see link at the top of this review).

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