First of all, we would like to sincerely apologise for the lateness of this edition. We had hoped to have it out by the end of May, but it turned out to be a month of transition, movement and change.
Funny enough, those themes have carried over to the four stories presented in this edition. Each one tells a tale about moving from one state to another – be it from cruelty to remorse, from earth to space or even from the non-human to the human – and not always successfully.
This month, I was fortunate to attend WisCon 2015, the world’s leading feminist science fiction convention in Madison, Wisconsin in the US. It was an eye-opening event full of amazing people with incredibly thoughtful insights into the rapidly-changing genre of speculative fiction. Because, like our stories this month, the genre itself is in the midst of a rather fundamental transformation.
More and more, the future of storytelling is moving away from the established centres of power in West, away from the straight white and male voices that once dominated it. This has caused a great deal of anxiety – and anger – among groups of people who are scared that they are losing their hold on power. In reaction, they’ve started a backlash that threatens to take out some of the genre’s most valuable voices and institutions. I won’t go into it here, but look up: “Sad/Rabid Puppies and Science Fiction” and you’ll see what I mean.
Though these groups often claim to stand for the literary integrity of the genre, scratch the surface and it’s not hard to understand the true source of their vitriol. I mean, one of their most outspoken voices has gone on the record calling black people “savages” and launched sustained racist attacks on writers of colour within the genre.
Thankfully, Omenana stands at the forefront of some of the changes to the genre. By bringing the voices of the African continent into the genre, we are helping to shift the tide even faster than before. You see for much of the history of speculative fiction, Africa was an exotic backdrop for Western stories to play out. Either it was a place of mystery and adventure for intrepid whites, or it was a place of refuge for people of the African Diaspora who longed for somewhere to belong. Rarely was it a place filled with its own people, languages, politics and unique worldviews.
As part of our determination to let African stories speak for themselves, we’ve included a questionnaire put together by students of Maria Barraza’s world literature class at Simon Fraser University in Canada. The class included a reading of AfroSF, the first anthology of African science fiction stories, in their program and students crafted their questions after going through the collection. The authors’ answers are thoughtful, testy and darkly satirical. I highly recommend reading them.
The bottom line is that we are convinced that bringing our African speculative fiction to the world’s attention is more than just telling good stories. It is about bringing a whole new way of looking at things to a genre that has always been about looking askance at the world. Unfortunately, this is time-consuming work and despite our best intentions, we have been unable to meet the schedule for a monthly magazine. Therefore, we will be transitioning to a tri-monthly magazine starting from this edition.
This will mean our next submissions cycle will open in July and our next edition will be available August 31st. We’re very sorry for any inconvenience or disappointment this may cause. We hope that as we grow as a magazine, and gain more staff and resources, this will change. In the meantime, the digital editions of Omenana are now available for free at Okada Books.