Updates – and a brief review

Ad Astra

Ok, so first off I’ve got a tentative schedule for my panels at Ad Astra:

• A Merciless Deconstruction of Things that Other People Like: The Panel
• Dystopian YA Cliches
• Fantasy in Translation
• In Defence of the Evil Empire, Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Big Brother
• Late Night Bad Fiction Reading
• Late Night Drunken Gurus
• Late Night Slash Fiction Readings
• New Weird, Spec Fic and Uncanny Literature
• The Shadow Over Lovecraft

This is not a final panel list and is subject to change – but it does give you all a sense of where I’m going to be and what I’m going to be talking about.

I’m especially excited about the Fantasy in Translation panel since, as anybody who reads this blog knows, I’ve got a big thing for translated fantasy books.

SpecFic Colloquium

A reminder that the SpecFic Colloquium is this weekend. And tickets are very limited. So you should buy a ticket. I’ll be there doing my presentation: From Guernica to Gamergate.

And a review

Speaking of the SpecFic Colloquium, the guest of honor this year is Nnedi Okorafor, delivering a presentation titled Resident Alien. 

Recently, by happenstance, I picked up a copy of her book Lagoon and I just have to say… Wow.

I mean Wow.

Where even to begin? Aliens land in the ocean near Lagos where they begin talking to the local marine life, and making changes. They take three humans, seemingly random, a marine biologist, a soldier and a Ghanian rapper and then return them along with an ambassador.

She comes in peace, but Lagos begins tearing itself to pieces around her. And when the old gods of the city become involved everything becomes even more complex.

This is a challenging book. Large passages are written in pidgin English, the PoV changes frequently, some sections are first-person and others third. The objectives and motivations of the aliens are obscure.

But that’s because the aliens are secondary. This is a story about people – and one that attempts to take it all in, the good and the bad, the wrathful and forgiving. This story, with its extreme Christians and secular Muslims in the principal cast, but rumours of Muslim massacres of Christians and Boko Haram around the edges, dripping with the symbolism of old ways not wholly subsumed, and of the universality of spirit that flows through all religion, is difficult to pin down at the best of times.

Lagoon may very well be the most challenging book I’ve read in 2015. And everybody should read it. Okorafor is a masterful author and her story here, which blurs the lines between Science Fiction, Fantasy and Fabulism until they barely exist anymore, is one of the most engaging and original I’ve read in a very long time.

A must for anybody who loved Jeff VanderMeer’s Southern Reach trilogy, and a strong recommendation for anybody who enjoys literary genre.

This is a good one folks.

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