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Ancient, Ancient

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  156 ratings  ·  30 reviews
The stories in Kiini Ibura Salaam's debut collection, Ancient, Ancient, from feminist science fiction publisher Aqueduct Press, are imbued with the urgency and expansive scope of imagination that we've come to expect from the best of science fiction. Salaam takes us to distant places but makes them familiar in unsettling ways, ably transforming the fantastic into a mirror ...more
Paperback, 253 pages
Published May 1st 2012 by Aqueduct Press
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Average rating 3.87  · 
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 ·  156 ratings  ·  30 reviews

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Claudia Piña
This book is alive. Be not afraid.
B.R. Sanders
This is another case where diversity is not really the right word to use here.1 This is a book of stories where, with one or two exceptions, the focus is on Black womanhood. Sometimes those Black women are in space. Sometimes they coexist alongside gods. Sometimes they live in New York and are beset by nostalgia for Louisiana. Sometimes they are aliens who communicate through dance. But unifying the collection of stories is a deep exploration of Black womanhood. It is a book w
My thoughts after this one can be summed up with: "readable, not a wow."

This is an extremely imaginative collection -- there's no two ways about that; I loved the settings for these short stories, and enjoyed so many of the aspects of the world-building. However, the stories themselves failed to grab me either in the head or the heart. One of my fellow book clubbers described this as feeling like it came out of an MFA, and I agree with her: The style is (lightly) experimental, and interesting, b
E.M. Tippetts
Aug 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Salaam's a true master of the craft; I read her to learn as much as to enjoy. Her plots are delicately constructed, but I think of them in jeweler's terms. They are the setting for the gems that are her scenes that ooze passion, emotion, and sensuality. With clever formatting, she achieves cinematic intercut scenes, modulates the voice of characters to let us see them from the inside, and shows the scene from different such perspectives, your head spin if it wasn't all so enthralling.

People who
Ingrid B
Aug 08, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: black-writers
I would have given this book a 4 out of 5 and even a 5 out of 5 if it was just the first half of these stories. I found them enticing, magical! I found that the second half felt had more of a ‘hurt no comfort’ fanficy feel (nothing wrong with fan fiction ofc but anyone familiar with the genre will see where I’m getting at). Even the last story, as much as I want it to be into it, had not well placed transitions. But I will get into all of these things as I briefly go through my thoughts on each ...more
Craig Laurance
Nov 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: queer-fantastika
The story "MalKai's Last Seduction" is an erotic tone poem that celebrates black queer love. The set up is deceptively simple. MalKai is a visiting alien who is gathering "human nectar"--a substance derived from orgasms. MalKai belongs to a race of moth-like beings, but is able to appear as human. His species communicates via movement, rather than words. MalKai meets Cori, a closeted black gay man, and seduces him.

"Cori had no way of imagining a velvet people who spoke through balletic motions
Octavia Cade
Jan 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
What a wonderful collection of fiction! And though there's a wide range in the stories, most are linked by - as the introduction states - a focus on sensuality that's very welcome in genre fiction. I liked all the stories, but the stand-outs for me were "Desire", which I actually read in an anthology a few weeks back; "Pod Rendezvous", which creates an almost hive-like sense of alien community without being the least bit insectile; and the absolute best, "Rosamojo", which is going on my list of ...more
Sep 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
The end of each story leaves you feeling anxious at the possibility that you might never read anything about that character ever again. It was a sad feeling but then you dive into a different story and surprise! compelling new worlds in such few words! over and over until you realize this author is breathing life into these stories and it's beautiful. It's scintillating. Real. Somehow like I would imagine a drug trip might feel; like when you can FEEL that you're ALIVE.
That's what this author do
Sue Chant
May 24, 2020 rated it did not like it
Tiptree winner 2012. I couldn't even get through the first story. It seemed to be trying for a mythopoeic vibe but didn't have the vibrancy, humour and darkness of many actual mythologies. There are plenty of writers who have done this much more successfully. ...more
Andrea Blythe
Jan 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
In Ancient, Ancient, Kiini Ibura Salaam presents one of the most inventive and creative collection of science fiction and fantasy stories that I’ve read in a long time. I hardly even know how to describe some of these stories without giving everything away, the worlds and universes presented are so unique. Salaam’s writing often has a sensuality to it, which is quite lovely.

While I didn’t connect with all of the stories, here are the ones I loved.

"Pod Rendezvous" was my favorite story in the co
Harold Walters
Nov 14, 2013 rated it really liked it

This is a fascinating collection of short stories. It is fascinating on several levels.

Kiini Ibura Salaam’s use of language is superb. It is a marvel to see how the written word weaves the tale in “Of Wings, Nectar and Ancestors.”
Walila — a nectar-sucking alien moth in human form, by the way — is frustrated by the limitations of words: “Words make me eyes want to cry.” Despite Walila’s frustration, Salaam gives her a voice quite capable of effectively narrating parts of the story.

In addition to
I love short stories and Salaam's collection was wonderfully different. I didn't know what I was getting into, but I was quickly caught up in her various worlds.

Desire: The opening story took me straight to Africa and warring, ancient gods and a woman who rediscovers her sexuality after years of marriage and children. I felt for all the characters, mortal and immortal. One of my equal second favourites.

The next three stories (Of Wings, Nectar and Ancestors, MalKai's Last Seduction and At Life's
Sep 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
This book was an interesting ride. The toughest part was understanding these alien languages and the oftentimes strange transitions. It was still glorious throughout. Salaam sure has a beautiful way with words and punching you in the gut with feeling.

Read "Rosamojo" just so you know true horror in this world and the fact that it's always humans perpetrating these atrocities. Usually those we should be able to trust to protect us above all us too.

Or read for beautiful gems like this: "Marie had
This collection of short stories is not like anything I'd ever read before, which is down to the author having a strong voice all her own. All the stories are fantasy/science fiction, but if there was a theme that really stood out to me it was one of being caught between two worlds. Characters often aren't sure which world they belong in, even when they've ostensibly chosen one way and even lived there for years. Describing individual stories doesn't really put across what the stories are like, ...more
Mar 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
This one's between three and four stars for me. The thing about spec fic short stories is that the author has to dump you in midstream -- there's no time to tell you about the culture or the situation, so they have to let you discover it in the middle, and hopefully they've done a good enough job of it that you're not left completely adrift. Some of these stories accomplish this better than others; some of them are so beautifully written that it doesn't quite matter. The real standout for me was ...more
Alex MacFarlane
Jul 08, 2013 rated it liked it
Though I liked this collection, I didn't love it: there were times when voice and story came together and I was compelled to keep reading, and times when that didn't happen. There's a lot of emphasis on sex and strong emotional connections between people (and a lot of sex = emotional connection) which isn't something I really relate to (especially when it's written in such a way that suggests everyone should be able to relate to it). There's also a lot of imagination - this isn't like any other ...more
Moira Crone
Aug 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Beautifully imaginative stories that always stay grounded in the sensual experience, though the imagination is road and marvelous---she lets us know how those spirits who can ride us feel about the fact they ride us, how it is to enter into new lives and new worlds. She creates magnificent scenarios for new versions of gender and new versions of sex and new versions of marriage and new versions of, well, being in its entirety. I can not fault this woman for imagination. She's out there and in he ...more
Susie Munro
A wonderful collection of short stories about sexuality, sensuality, power, self knowledge. Salaam's writing is beautifully contained, insightful and keenly observed. Although spanning a range of settings and subjects there's a common thread of deeply embodied truth running through them - messy and complicated and contradictory in a way that felt very real.

I'm not even going to try to pick a favourite story, do yourself a favour and read them them all
Oct 12, 2015 rated it liked it
A really odd, interesting collection of stories, steeped in sensuality and strangeness.

Ancient, Ancient feels completely alien, especially towards the beginning. The first half's stories are almost slippery in their execution, fever-dreamy and poetic. They feel fairly literary in their embrace of the surreal.

I think "Marie" and "Pod Rendezvous" made this collection for me. I do prefer my short fiction to have a little more meat on its bones, and these two delivered.
Jun 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
Most of the stories are brief glimpses into other worlds, many of which are utterly strange*, most of which feature non-consensual alien possession. Visual and visceral. I usually felt like I was missing out on some crucial, subtle bit of information that would have been useful for drawing me in further. But, I was often in awe.

(* No, I don't say "utterly strange" lightly.)
Melinda Davis
Sep 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
Please, please read this book. I can't say enough good things about Salaam's writing. As a prose stylist, she's quite good, but the main aspect of her writing that left me blown away is how genuinely alien her visions are. She manages to entirely step outside of the usual genre tropes, and leave you breathless and astounded. I finished Ancient, Ancient wanting more. ...more
Morgan Brilliant
May 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This was an interesting set of stories. I couldn't stop in the middle of any of them and I found that they each needed a certain amount of consideration after reading. For the most part, I only read one story in a sitting, though there are a few stories that seem to me almost paired. ...more
Apr 30, 2014 rated it liked it
I read it for my feminist sci-fi book club; I might not have finished otherwise. Some of the stories were pretty good, so between the ones I really liked and the ones I really didn't like I give it 3 stars. It's too bad; I expected this to be a lot better than it was. ...more
Mar 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Sexy and weird and wildly imaginative.
Beth Kakuma-Depew
I love the first few short stories! Didn't have time to finish all of them. Just wanted to savor the first few. ...more
Oct 07, 2012 marked it as to-read
Shelves: fantasy-scifi
Reviewed by Strange Horizons ...more
S.E. Smith
Truly outstanding speculative fiction collection. Lush, sensual language, rich explorations of race, gender, and new worlds, and above all, totally amazing.
Lisa Martincik
Mar 05, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: sff, own, collections
Provocative, lush, energetic, sexy.
Tyrannosaurus regina
There was something really captivating about this, a combination of the cerebral and the sensual, science fiction with a mythic feel to it.
Cole Jack
rated it it was amazing
Aug 30, 2013
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Kiini Ibura Salaam is a writer, painter, and traveler from New Orleans, Louisiana. Her debut novel—When the World Turned Upside Down—is a middle grade story of four friends leaning into community during the time of COVID. Written under the pen name K. Ibura, it is her first book for children. Her speculative fiction and essays have been included in such publications as the Dark Matter, Mojo: Conj ...more

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