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The West has history all right—great volumes of the stuff full of dates, and dynasties, revolutions, conquests, genocides, technological breakthroughs, and political movements. Almost by definition history is written, and if it’s not we have to add the word “oral.”

But in a funny way, what we in the West lack is a past—at least what Dilman Dila or Unathi Magubeni mean by a past, one that you can taste or feel in your bones, a past that you still inhabit.

There was recently a kerfuffle over supposed ageism at a major US convention. Older writers like myself were kind of asked to accept that we might not be needed on panels (which didn’t seem to me to be unreasonable). The partner of one of those involved was said to have written, “the past is evil.”

I have no idea if that phrase was actually written—it was a Facebook argument. But the phrase does sum up one extreme end of a tendency that sees the past as something to move beyond. The past is wrong, bad, misinformed, superstitious, unadvanced. It is something in ourselves to be worked through and overcome.

Alongside history, there is the Future, with travel to the stars and brain downloads. Embedded in that somewhere is an unscientific faith in science, and which in its unexamined heart regards scientific results as being truer than other kinds of knowledge.

It seems to me that Afrofuturism has recently been redefined to be both more African, and as something that has its roots in the past.

As Nnedi Okorafor says in her TED Talk, “African science fiction’s blood runs deep and it’s old and it’s ready to come forth.”


In chapter twelve: two writers who live in Grahamstown: Samuel Kolawole and Stacy Hardy.

Geoff Ryman is Senior Lecturer in School of Arts, Languages and Cultures at the University of Manchester. He is a writer of short stories and novels, and science fiction and literary fiction. His work has won numerous awards including the John W. Campbell Memorial Award, the Arthur C. Clarke Award (twice), the James Tiptree Jr. Memorial Award, the Philip K. Dick Award, the British Science Fiction Association Award (twice), and the Canadian Sunburst Award (twice). In 2012 he won a Nebula Award for his Nigeria-set novelette "What We Found." His story "Capitalism in the 22nd Century" is part of Stories for Chip, edited by Bill Campbell and Nisi Shawl and published by Rosarium.
Current Issue
29 Nov 2021

It is perhaps fitting, therefore, that our donor's choice special issue for 2021 is titled—simply—Friendship.
The year before this, the girls at school had called her Little Lila .
Pictures of me that day are kept in the ship’s files, sent back to Earth to be used in my captors’ eventual war crimes tribunals.
Perhaps a new urban system of star navigation is needed
This world, covered in spectral ebullience, was tied together by bows of light
Are you a good witch / or a bad witch? / as if there’s an answer earned, inscribed in bubbles reflecting an inverse crown.
When does the pursuit of pure thought, pure idealism, pure escapism become detrimental?
Issue 22 Nov 2021
Issue 15 Nov 2021
By: Madeline Grigg
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 8 Nov 2021
By: Allison Parrish
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 1 Nov 2021
By: Liam Corley
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Podcast read by: Liam Corley
Issue 25 Oct 2021
Strange Horizons
Issue 18 Oct 2021
By: K. Ceres Wright
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 11 Oct 2021
By: Lisabelle Tay
Podcast read by: Kat Kourbeti
Issue 4 Oct 2021
By: Anthony Okpunor
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 2 Oct 2021
Podcast: Fund Drive 2021 Poetry 
By: Michael Meyerhofer
By: Wale Ayinla
Podcast read by: Michael Meyerhofer
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
29 Sep 2021
Opening to fiction submissions for the month of November!
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