Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Zimbabwean Science Fiction

I am one of the people who shouts the most about the heavy burden African writers have had to carry. They are only expected to put pen to paper if the result is literary, political and serious. So African Sue Townsends had to move on and become accountants or garbage collectors. African Barbara Cartlands became doctors or house maids. Popular fiction just wasn't for Africa- they said. Writers here needed to address African conditions and to the international world Africans don't laugh. Africans do not dream of Prince Charmings or futuristic worlds where robots run things. Like so many times before, the people outside put up the kraal and Africans stepped (or were forced) inside. Luckily, new African writers are saying no. Now we have all types of writers, all types of books. Romance, chick-lit, gay fiction, children's books, science fiction. ... everything and anything, confined only by the parameters of their minds.

One of these writers is Ivor Hartmann. I just finished reading his award winning story Mr Goop at African Writing. What fun! Science fiction set in Zimbabwe, post the Big Flood brought to us by Global Warming. It is a Zimbabwe where each child has his very own Geneform but Tamuka unfortunately is stuck with the slightly less than perfect Mr Goop. It is an imaginative and moving story.


Sue Guiney said...

Thanks for this! It's shameful how provincial we become and only know about writers (etc) around where we live. i never would have heard of him before. Nor would I have realized the different sorts of challenges African writers face.

Lauri said...

We're all like that, Sue.

Ivor W. Hartmann said...

Hi Lauri, thanks for the mention here. I'm real glad you enjoyed the story it means much to me that you, a fellow writer, did.

There is indeed a serious dearth of African Genre fiction as I call it (you call it Popular fiction), being published and read, not only in Africa but from Africa to the world at large. But this is changing and changing faster than might appear.

You are yourself spearheading this change with your Kate Gomolemo Detective series. As is Masimba Musodza with The Dread Eye Detective Agency series, in the same genre and of course Alexander McCall Smith.

It is because of writers like you that I feel emboldened to write whatever I can conceive. An obeisance to the imagination rather than any grandiose literary aspirations.

Lauri said...

Thanks for that Ivor. I'm not a big sci-fi fan but what I loved most about Mr Goop was the normal human story under thse very strange conditions. It reminded me a bit of Margaret Atwood's Oryx and Crake. I felt so sorry for Mr Goop I wanted to climb in that capsule with him too.

daoine said...

That is a wonderful story. Very well thought out. Thanks for highlighting it Lauri.

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