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Afronauts: On Science Fiction and the Crisis of Possibility

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  21 October 2016


This essay investigates the critical function of science fiction (SF) tropes in SF and non-SF works by and about Africans. It begins with the assertion that works that invoke SF tropes, even if they are not properly speaking SF, can productively be read within the frame of SF. It then analyzes the ways in which writers and visual artists use speculative technological advances to explore the systematic marginalization of the African continent in the world-system. Drawing on Darko Suvin, Raymond Williams, and Fredric Jameson, it illustrates how these works use the cognitive estrangement characteristic of SF to posit a break in established systems of thought; this is, ultimately, a utopian gesture. Works discussed include Deji Bryce Olukotun’s Nigerians in Space, Sony Labou Tansi’s Life and a Half, Ngugi wa Thiong’o’s Wizard of the Crow, Cristina de Middel’s The Afronauts, and Frances Bodomo’s Afronauts.

© Cambridge University Press 2016 

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