Alter-Africas: Science Fiction and the Post-Colonial Black African Novel

Ian P. MacDonald

Alter-Africas: Science Fiction and the Post-Colonial Black African Novel
MacDonald, Ian P.
Thesis Advisor(s):
Slaughter, Joseph R.
Edwards, Brent Hayes
Ph.D., Columbia University
English and Comparative Literature
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This project investigates the emergence of near-future fiction in the post-colonial African novel. Analyzing The Rape of Shavi (1983) by Buchi Emecheta, Osiris Rising (1995) by Ayi Kwei Armah, Wizard of the Crow (2006) by Ngugi wa Thiong'o, and Big Bishop Roko and the Altar Gangsters (2006) by B. Kojo Laing, I gauge the impact of African science fiction (sf) on issues of historicity, economics, statism and localized identities and how these have adapted or are adapting to an increasingly globalized and technophilic world. Identifying sf's roots in the European travelogue, I attend to the way each author codes technology in the text and the manners in which technophilic spaces exacerbate or ease the frequent tension between modernity and tradition in African literature. By reading these works against novels by, among others, Thomas Pynchon, Ishmael Reed, Robert Heinlein, and Chinua Achebe, I conclude that recent developments in the African sf novel offer a compelling critique on the genre's colonial heritage and have progressively indigenized sf by wedding it to local traditions of orature and myth. While Black African sf production has been historically overlooked in literary studies, it is important to revisit early moves in the direction of African near-future fiction in order to contextualize the rising interest in the genre on the part of African authors.
African literature
Postcolonialism in literature
Comparative literature
Science fiction
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Suggested Citation:
Ian P. MacDonald, , Alter-Africas: Science Fiction and the Post-Colonial Black African Novel, Columbia University Academic Commons, .

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