Dominion: An Anthology of Speculative Fiction from Africa and the African Diaspora

By Zelda Knight

Rating: 4 stars

I’ve been making a conscious effort to try and extend my horizons when it comes to my reading, and this book was mentioned in a discussion between anthologists as a particularly good one. Having read it, it’s certainly not like anything I’ve read before. Coming from Africa and the African diaspora, including African Americans, it’s a collection as diverse as the continent it hails from. The first story, Trickin’ is the story of a trickster god who rises once a year to test his people. Then we have an old-fashioned robot story in Red_Bati in which a robot that used to be an old woman’s pet becomes part of a mining crew, but has an existential crisis when it’s damaged.

Probably the most harrowing story in the collection is The Unclean, in which a woman relates her life, passed from a father to a husband, treated as chattel, the birth and death of her child and the horror of when that unquiet child returns to haunt her. This was a difficult story to read, on several counts – the horror of the way that women were traded (not to mention the horror of the normality of it); the abuse; the death of the child; and more that goes into spoiler territory.

Convergence in Chorus Architecture had the feel of an ancient myth to me, almost a creation myth. I didn’t entirely follow the plot, but the tone and feel really drew me in. Clanfall: Death of Kings really didn’t feel like a complete story in its own right, but part of a larger piece of work. It was very violent, in a cartoony way that didn’t really have me caring all that much about the characters, but the worldbuilding was excellent. The final (and, I think, longest) story was Ife-Iyoku: The Tale of Imadeyunuagbon, set in a post-apocalyptic world, where the inhabitants of one hidden village in the heart of Africa gained powers that helped them survive. The people of Ife-Iyoku formed a highly patriarchal society, where survival and the continuation of the next generation is the greatest good. This story tells of what happens when that is threatened and when one young woman wants to exercise greater freedom.

Overall, a very good collection with many more hits than misses for me. One or two I just didn’t get, one or two were far too grim for me, but it’s a good collection indicating how the genre is thriving in a non-traditional habitat.

Book details

ISBN: 9781946024794

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