Anthology Review: Kabu-Kabu by Nnedi Okorafor

Kabu KabuKabu Kabu by Nnedi Okorafor
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This anthology is a collection of short mostly speculative stories with tinges of sci-fi, fantasy, folktale and the supernatural. A few come from the same world in which a few individuals have the ability to fly. These are excerpts from the author’s unpublished novel. Many fall short of feeling fully developed, resting instead at vignette status. None stand far above or below the rest.

One commonality throughout the collection is Nigeria as a background, often with American narrators. The uneasy pairing of Nigerian and American interests and values is the greatest strength to the anthology.

I rated and reviewed all of the component short stories to this collection:
     “Asunder”–4 stars
     “The Baboon War”–3 stars
     “Bakasi Man”–3 stars
     “Biafra”–2 stars
     “The Black Stain”–2 stars
     “The Carpet”–2 stars
     “The Ghastly Bird”–2 stars
     “The House of Deformities”–3 stars
     “How Inyang Got Her Wings”–3 stars
     “Icon”–3 stars
     [w/ Alan Dean Foster]–“Kabu Kabu”–2 stars
     “Long Juju Man”–2 stars
     “The Magical Negro”–2 stars
     “Moom!”–2 stars
     “On the Road”–2 stars
     “The Palm Tree Bandit”–3 stars
     “The Popular Mechanic”–2 stars
     “Spider the Artist”–4 stars
     “Tumaki”–3 stars
     “The Winds of Harmattan”–2 stars
     “Windseekers”–2 stars

Also by this author, I’ve previously read:
     “Hello, Moto”–2 stars
     Binti [Binti, #1]–4 stars
 
 
 
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Short Story Review: “Biafra” by Nnedi Okorafor

2 of 5 stars.

One of many tales carved from an unpublished novel about a native Nigerian woman who can fly, this tale has the protagonist return home to Nigeria after years away. Nigeria is immersed in its Civil War as the heroine comes home.

The other tales, “How Inyang Got Her Wings”, “The Winds of Harmattan”, and “Windseekers” read like folk tales, whereas this tale is historical fiction. It largely remains plotless and makes no use of the heroine nor her abilities beyond her ability to fly out of danger as planes sweep in to bomb villages.

This tale appears in Okorafor’s anthology, Kabu Kabu by Prime Books.
 
 
 
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Novella Review: What Has Passed Shall in Kinder Light Appear by Bao Shu

3 of 5 stars.

Certain phrases hold deep meaning around the globe without having to explain the time and place they denote: Ground Zero, Tiananmen Square, the 38th Parallel. Recent historic world events are both humanized and contextualized when given fresh perspectives in this novella translated by Ken Liu.

The first twist–for English audiences, at the very least–is a Chinese national as narrator providing a non-Western POV for everything from WWII to the Gulf Wars, The Cold War to the Chinese Cultural Revolution, with distant reports of 9/11 and firsthand accounts of the Tiananmen Square protests and massacre.

The second twist is a cause and effect game-changer. World events unfurl in reverse order. Narrator Xie Baosheng is born the day of the Mayan 2012 Day of Apocalyse, not that anything of note happened that day. His first memories are of his country’s pride in hosting the Beijing Olympics [2008], but then the world seems consumed with USA rough handling of Afghanistan and Iraq culminating in the 9/11 stunning blow to NYC that shuts America down [2001]. Slowly, computers and cell phones disappear. Technology reverts and the world appears dumber for it. The free markets of China clamp down into isolationism as the narrator attends the Tiananmen protests while in college [1989].

Seventy years of Baosheng’s life and love, and the militaristic and cultural wars raging around him, help make history accessible if not totally recognizable as Nixon visits China, wars erupt in Vietnam and Korea. And late in his life, aggressive Japan rapes China while a distant threat named Hitler emerges in Germany to ravage Europe . . .

This tale appears in The Year’s Best Fantasy & Science Fiction Novellas: 2016 edited by Paula Guran, which I received directly from Prime Books.

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Short Story Review: “Fortunate Son” by Steve Coate

3 of 5 stars.

The decision to go back to work after being a stay-at-home parent is never a light one. But when that parent is also a young widow working alone to keep the family together, the decision is amply tough. Especially when one is a Viking by trade.

After 12 years of raising Bjorn, Freya is readying herself to go back to work. She hasn’t seen battle since her days as a shield maiden, but this is the route that can secure her son’s future even if it costs her her life. She’ll be the only woman on the ship heading east to the Slavic lands . . .

This tale appears in Abbreviated Epics, a Third Flatiron Anthology, edited by Juliana Rew.
 
 
 
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Short Story Review: “Rain Over Lesser Boso” by Gustavo Bondoni

3 of 5 stars.

Attributing natural disasters to supernatural causes is common through many folklores. Here, the cause and effect of a probable volcanic earthquake remains murky but the cultural interpretation of the event contains clues.

After an earthquake ravages ancient Edo, a part of the mainland is found to have broken off. Lesser Boso, now completely surrounded by water, still has people living on it but in a desperate state. Black smoke, seen as restless earth spirits, rise from fissures in the ground on Lesser Boso and many of the inhabitants are psychologically compromised under the influence of the black smoke. The mainland residents consider the entire island cursed and allow little movement between the island and the mainland even though the earth spirits cannot cross water.

Young, intelligent Mariko seems not to be affected by the spirits. She receives the rare chance to become an ambassador for the plight of those left behind on Lesser Boso . . .

This tale appears in Abbreviated Epics, a Third Flatiron Anthology, edited by Juliana Rew.
 
 
 
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Graphic Novel Review: Silent Hill: Past Life by Tom Waltz

Silent Hill: Past LifeSilent Hill: Past Life by Tom Waltz
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A horror graphic novel comes to full creepy realization due to the artwork of Menton3. The idea of skeletons in one’s closet proves quite literal when the secrets from the past refuse to stay in the past.

Jebediah Foster lived a rough and bloody life out in the Dakota Territory. He killed more than a few folks [American Indians, a barmaid, a bartender et al]. Then he married, quit drinking and moved Eastward to escape his past. His very pregnant wife seems unaware of Jeb’s past. Jeb himself barely remembers it through the hazy drunken memories.

They move to Esther’s uncle’s house in Silent Hill which they inherited. Everyone they run into seems to know Jeb and a lot about him. But, he can’t quite put a finger on why they should know him and a past he’d prefer not to acknowledge. But some definitely know him–a crazy Native American woman, the sheriff, the barman, the barman’s wife . . .
 
 
 
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Short Story Review: “Notes on London’s Housing Crisis” by Will Wiles

2 of 5 stars.

Urban centers and their housing problems of affordability and availability are nothing new. However, this speculative tale presents an alternate present to modern London with a different crisis with its housing.

Vamping on the 1960’s dream of modular, upgradable housing, this tale assumes the widespread incorporation of modular living. Then, it presents the various problems that arise in its wake as the system ages through decades of development. It also speculates as to the state of real estate for tradition non-modular housing, citing the inherit money-drain of “used” houses.

The kernel to the tale is interesting, and would make for a solid background in a sci-fi narrative. As it is, there is no narrative–merely an interesting concept.

This tale appears in the anthology An Unreliable Guide to London by Influx Press, London. I received my copy of this anthology directly from one of the contributing authors through bookreviewdirectory.wordpress.com.
 
 
 
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