My favorite plays in this volume are “The Zombies of Montrose” by James Morrow, is about a workforce to help out poor people, which rich people do notMy favorite plays in this volume are “The Zombies of Montrose” by James Morrow, is about a workforce to help out poor people, which rich people do not care for. “Faustfeathers” by John Kessel is ‘Faust’ with the very funny Marx Brothers. It works! “Universal Robots” by Mac Rogers is an alternative history; what if “R.U.R” by Karel Čapek, who is a character in this, the play that introduced the concept of robots, was allied with an inventor who created actual robots, which made it so Czechoslovakia won World War II. “Hearts Like Fists” by Adam Szymkowicz is about a super villain and the four super heroines who try to arrest him. I borrowed this from my friend....more
I particularly liked the first story about Rikva the glove maker’s wife who watches over who appears to be a wealthy army officer’s samovar for sevenI particularly liked the first story about Rikva the glove maker’s wife who watches over who appears to be a wealthy army officer’s samovar for seven years. She and her husband have given so much charity in that time that the tarnished piece gleams “brighter than a thousand suns.” (30) I borrowed this from interlibrary loan....more
Michael Dirda wrote a column or essay a week, mostly, about his bookish life for The American Scholar. A scholar, critic and a sometime academic, he aMichael Dirda wrote a column or essay a week, mostly, about his bookish life for The American Scholar. A scholar, critic and a sometime academic, he also loves science fiction and writes about attending Readercon (near Boston), Cap-Con (in Washington, D.C. where he lives) and buying lots and lots of used books and reading them. A book about books, of course I liked this.
I borrowed this from my local public library....more
An alien, who is able to switch into varying shapes and gets named Ayodele, appears on Bar Beach in Lagos, Nigeria first to a marine biologist named AAn alien, who is able to switch into varying shapes and gets named Ayodele, appears on Bar Beach in Lagos, Nigeria first to a marine biologist named Adaora, a soldier, Agu, and a rapper, Anthony. I really, really liked this novel, for how similar and how different this is, for having a setting that is at once unusual and welcome to me.
“That was the real introduction to the great mess that happening in Lagos, Nigeria. West Africa. Africa. Here. Because so many people in Lagos had portable chargeable glowing vibrating chirping tweeting communicating connected devices, practically everything was recorded and posted online in some way, somehow. Quickly. The modern human world is connected like a spider’s web.” (193)
“’What are you three?” the president asked. ‘We’re Nigerians,’ Agu said. ‘Just Nigerians.” He looked at Anthony and added, ‘And one Ghanaian.’” (247)
From Strange Horizons review by T.S. Miller “That the rioting, looting, and general chaos inspired by the aliens can at first be mistaken as business as usual in Lagos reflects not some condemnation of the backwardness or barbarity of Nigeria, but rather contributes to Okorafor's dissection of the origins of and possible solutions to some of the nation's problems. For instance, contemplating the crimes perpetrated by Lagos's gangs of street children or "area boys" in the wake of the alien invasion, the soldier Agu takes a more nuanced view of the social problem they represent: "Agu understood that they were angry at Lagos, angry at Nigeria, angry at the world. The alien invasion was just an excuse to let it all out" (p. 173). The arrival of the aliens reveals Nigeria's social problems in sharp relief, but also brings hope for resolving them. Throughout the novel, Okorafor insists that "[i]t was time for a change" (p. 93), and she suggests that the aliens—those "catalysts of change" (p. 158)—may possess some power to encourage humans in their impulses, to unleash potentials already latent in Lagos; her novel thus imagines big changes for a city and a culture already in a state of massive change. Lagoon's most brilliant conceit is that somehow an alien invasion would be redundant in Lagos: "We are doing what is already happening" (p. 179).
In the end, then, the question of whether the apocalyptic energies that drive the plot of Lagoon were brought by aliens or were present in Lagos all along becomes moot: the aliens serve as stimulant but also represent the potential for change, positive or disastrous, inherent in modern Lagos. The twists and turns of the novel's plot mirror the promise and danger of that potential for change, the promise and danger of Lagos itself: "Fast life, fast death. High life, low life. Skyscrapers, shanty towns. Flies, mosquitoes. The roads rumble as paths to the future, always hungry for blood" (p. 291).
The novel's fantasy of an alien invasion liberates Nigeria from its dependence on oil as the single commodity that makes the world pay attention to it, a commodity that has brought the kind of change in which the aliens revel, but that has also turned out to be more destructive than positive, as the aliens themselves point out: "YOUR LAND IS FULL OF A FUEL THAT IS TEARING YOU APART" (p. 113). The science fictional premise of Lagoon realizes Okorafor's dreams for the future of Lagos, a future in which the city has much to offer the world beyond its oil. To achieve these dreams, the novel must remove the oil and replace it with the wild vitality of the aliens, but the implication is of course that this vitality has always been in Lagos, if only we were looking. The greatest achievement of Okorafor's novel may well be that she's given those of us who have never been to Lagos the opportunity to see a fraction of that vitality and promise for ourselves.
Bought from SFBC for some misunderstood price. ...more
Thirteen sometimes interrelated short stories about women who are or were famous adjacent: Dolly Wilde, Oscar Wilde’s niece, “Romaine Remains” about RThirteen sometimes interrelated short stories about women who are or were famous adjacent: Dolly Wilde, Oscar Wilde’s niece, “Romaine Remains” about Romaine Brooks, whose friends are and were famous. The toddler Allegra Byron, who is Lord Byron’s illegitimate daughter, told from the point of view of the Capuchin nun who took care of her. From “Who Killed Dolly Wilde?”
“I loved Dolly in the way that you can only love your first love, a way that is infinitely forgiving and always mindful of the early days. We’d been friends since we were children. I used to give Dolly my nice dresses because I had no place to wear them; I hated parties. I knew she’d never return them and if she did they’d be wrinkled and stained.” (167)
I borrowed this book from interlibrary loan....more