Despite this great variance, there is one noticeable theme; a majority of these stories are post-apocalyptic, dealing with survival and recovery from a past that can never truly be healed. Though some are more optimistic than others, very few of these tales are truly uplifting. Instead, they purposefully confront difficult topics including racism, sexism, and many types of violence. This collection may not be for the faint of heart, but it is compelling and meaningful.
So far as the quality of each story, there were some that worked much better for me than others, but as a whole the anthology is excellent. There were several stories that I loved, and even those that I didn’t like as well were engaging and explored fascinating concepts. When I was unsatisfied, it often felt like it was more because I was missing something than that the story was. Below are some brief thoughts on the standout stories for me.
"Red_Bati" by Dilman Dila - A robot dog taking over a spaceship to avoid being reprogrammed. Throughout the heist, questions of sentience are explored and we get glimpses of the world beyond the spaceship which piqued my curiosity.
"The Unclean" by Nuzo Onoh - An uncomfortable horror story addressing the oppression of women through expectations and domestic abuse and the terrible decisions that this can force them into. It was incredibly creepy and kept me on the edge of my seat.
"A Mastery of German" by Marian Denise Moore - Examines the possibility of transferring memories and what this would mean for personal worth and identity. This subject always fascinates me, and I enjoyed the author’s take on how it might come about in a real-world setting.
"Clanfall: Death of Kings" by Odida Nyabundi - This sci-fi about various tribes of killer cyborgs was so entertaining. My only complaint is that it felt more like an introduction than a completed work, which gives me hope that it may be expanded into a longer story in the future.
"The Satellite Charmer" by Mame Bougouma Diene - Follows Ibrahim throughout his life in an Africa that is in peril from gigantus mining corporations. For me, there was just the right mix of everyday life and perplexing sci-fi.
"Ife-Iyoku, the Tale of Imadeyunuagbon" by Epeki Oghenechovwe Donald - A small civilization of survivors of the apocalypse have been blessed with magical powers, but inept leadership and patriarchal beliefs might be their downfall. I liked the exploration of gender roles and power dynamics combined with a strong main character and, well, superpowers.
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.