21 Oct 2022

Science Fiction and Fantasy Fridays: Black Stars: A Galaxy of New Worlds

Science Fiction and Fantasy Fridays introduces readers who are unfamiliar with the Adult SF/F genre to books, authors, and discussions all about the vast expanse of the world of Adult SF/F!


Authors: Nisi Shawl, Nnedi Okorafor, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, C. T. Rwizi, Nalo Hopkinson, Victor LaValle
Series: Black Stars #1-6
Source: Audiobook via Audible
Publisher: Brilliance Publishing, Inc.
Publication Date: August 31, 2021

The sky is not the limit. From an alley in New York to an interstellar wormhole, the path to the future looks different for everyone. These cosmic short stories from some of today’s most influential Black authors reveal a universe of possibilities.

2043...(A Merman I Should Turn to Be) by Nisi Shawl
African-descended USians are finally obtaining reparations - underwater. Take a deep breath and enjoy this politically sharp short story that dives into fantastic new territory. Plunge into the action of a visionary future by the award-winning author of Everfair, with narration by LeVar Burton (Star Trek: The Next Generation).

The Black Pages by Nnedi Okorafor
By fate and fire, a being four millennia old is reborn in Mali in a short story of contemporary African life and ancient secrets by the Hugo and Nebula Award-winning author of the Binti trilogy.

The Visit by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
As a powerful matriarchy reshapes the world, two men - old friends - confront the past and future in a bracing speculative short story by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, author of Americanah.

These Alien Skies by C.T. Rwizi
Accidents happen in the strange realms of the African Union system. One of them sends two humans to the far side of a star gate in a thrilling short story of hope, survival, and new dimensions.

Clap Back by Nalo Hopkinson
A past struggle for racial equity could achieve a profound future victory in this audacious short story about technology, hoodoo, and hope by a Nebula Award-winning author.

We Travel the Spaceways by Victor LaValle
Otherworldly interference in real-world New York City? Or delusions? For the answer, follow two loving strangers in an astonishing short story of faith and hope by a World Fantasy Award winner.


The Visit by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie


Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's The Visit (Black Stars #1) presents a
near-future society in Nigeria where the matriarchy clearly in charge. I assumed that from the title this would be like alien visits, so my bad on that. But I thought this was super interesting! The first scene sets up the rest with the announcement that male masturbation will remain illegal. I loved the genderbend on the issues that affect our societies even if it isn't a subtle hand that shows the issues. 

With a lack of both power and agency, men focus on their looks and their hopes of attracting women and making a good marriage. Their behavior is viewed as emotional and irrational.

Men's role, as well as the way they behave and are perceived, is completely determined by women. Adichie makes several relevant points in this gender role reversal. The writing is great here because it could have been glib and tokenistic but it was neither - it packed a punch.

The Black Pages by Nnedi Okorafor


The Black Pages (Black Stars #2) follows a supernatural being named Issaka that has been released from their prison after a book they were in somehow is set aflame. From there we have Issaka revealing things and eventually running into a young man named Faro who is dealing with the death of his family, but has something that Issaka needs.

The beginning of the story seemed confusing and disjointed. As things progress it begins to make more sense, but it doesn't make up for the confusion since it's so short at the beginning. The premise was interesting but the execution seemed lacking.

2043... a Merman I Should Turn to Be by Nisi Shawl


2043... a Merman I Should Turn to Be (Black Stars #3) was an expansion on Jimi Hendrix's sci-fi song which imagined a future apocalyptic situation where the characters Catherina and the songwriter escape to a life underwater after being transformed by a "machine."

I wanted this to be my favourite of these short stories. I mean, merpeople and read by LeVar Burton! But I honestly couldn't tell you what just happened at the end. It was an interesting concept that just missed it's mark completely. Maybe if this had been a full story I would have enjoyed it more, connected more with the characters, and thought that the plot wasn't as rushed.

These Alien Skies by C. T. Rwizi


C.T. Rwizi's These Alien Skies (Black Stars #4) hearkens back to African spirituality as it posits the future of the African Union system and mankind as we travel to new worlds. After an accident in a wormhole, Copilots Msizi and Tariro crash into what they had suspected was an uninhabited planet. What they find takes them on a far more mysterious future than they ever imagined.

I'm not surprised this is the highest rated of the Black Stars stories for two reasons: 1. It's probably what most people thought of when they saw the collection of these stories was called "Black Stars" and 2. The story is absolutely gorgeous. Only elevated by the amazing voice work of Indya Moore, this story is everything you want out of a star faring adventure.

A definite favourite of this collection and I will be checking out more of Rwizi's work!

Clap Back by Nalo Hopkinson


Clap Back (Black Stars #5) is a multigenerational story about appropriation, culture, and the future of science.

I really liked this one! A good look at what happens when you exploit and appropriate from others and how some consequences don't exist for people but do for others. I did think that this felt more like a prequel to another story rather than a self-contained idea, but it fit in really well with the rest of the stories in this series so far.

I would have enjoyed seeing more of this one and think it may have been even better if it was towards the front end of the short stories you read in this series. The audiobook was extremely well done!

We Travel the Spaceways by Victor LaValle


We Travel the Spaceways (Black Stars #6) follows a homeless Black man who gets instructions about how to free African Americans from spiritual enslavement from beings speaking to him through empty soda bottles. One night he meets his soulmate Kim, also an outcast of society. And so begins their journey to discovering themselves and each other.

This is a love letter to New York City and the outcasts in the world. This was such a tender and expressive story - one that I am glad rounded out the short story collection. The narration was so well done and I am so glad I found this on Audible!

Have you read this book? What was your favourite part?

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for commenting! I cherish each and every comment. If you leave me a link to your blog, I will do my best to comment back!