The futility of African science fiction

The futility of African science fiction

I am becoming less ashamed with my obsession with science fiction and fantasy cultures. After studying both in academia, I’m practically proud of it.
This fall I studied African science fiction. A very specific genre. After studying several novels, films, comics and short stories in African science fiction, I can say the major distinction is the genre’s relationship to real world problems: decolonization, post-colonialism, extreme poverty, corruption, etc.
Star Wars teaches us what any story can. “Good will triumph.” African science fiction teaches us that good seldom wins and that perhaps science fiction should not be an escape from the real world.

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8 thoughts on “The futility of African science fiction

  1. This blurb is so vague… How are those issues, for example, exclusive to African SF? Because I would argue they are not — or at least how you phrased them. What makes it uniquely African? And not some satire of European influence in Africa, like John Christopher’s THe Long Winter which has to do with decolonization, post-colonialism, extreme poverty, corruption etc.

    1. I don’t think those issues are exclusive to African science fiction by any means. A lot of sci-fi stories, maybe even the majority of them, rely on those themes (decolonization, post-colonialism, etc.). The trend I’ve noticed is that those themes are much more realistic. That is, the outcomes aren’t typically happy or positive. I think African sci-fi uses those themes as a way to point to real issues, and to ultimately raise awareness. Raising awareness isn’t unique to African sci-fi either, but I think it’s more prevalent in the genre as a whole.

      1. Yes! Haha. For me, fiction is an escape. I don’t think readers are afforded an escape with African sci-fi. They are sort of forced into looking at the parallels between what’s fiction and what’s real.
        Thanks for your comments.

      2. Explain…. For example if someone is consciously writing space opera in the middle of the New Wave movement of the late 60s/early 70s they are consciously making a comment about the genre. They are purposefully evoking older forms. The rise of space opera in the 80s is a testament to a backlash against the “literary pretensions” of the New Wave. I’m a historian, I operate this way! haha.

  2. I’m not sure even what a space opera is… I guess the genre is a testament to the era we live in. It shows some form of struggle against post-colonial super powers. It is a discussion in culture and politics. But this is largely based on people’s knowledge of Africa, their knowledge of politics and their knowledge of sci-fi. One of the beauties of sci-fi is that you can translate it into however you deem necessary. I think African science-fiction, for the most part, does not afford its audience this opportunity. So, maybe African science-fiction does in some sense remove itself from the rest of the genre. But not by far. I say it’s a matter of perception because most larger sub-genres of science-fiction could probably have the same case made. With different arguments, of course.

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