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REVIEW: Dominion Anthology

Dominion anthology

Genre: African speculative fiction, Africanfuturism

Authors: Nicole Givens Kurtz, Dilman Dila, Eugen Bacon, Nuzo Onoh, Marian Denise Moore, Dare Segun Falowo, Rafeeat Aliyu, Suyi Davies Okungbowa, Odida Nyabundi, Mame Bougouma Diene, Michael Boatman, and Ekpeki Oghenechovwe Donald

Reviewer: Dan

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About The Book

Dominion is the first anthology of speculative fiction and poetry by Africans and the African Diaspora. An old god rises up each fall to test his subjects. Once an old woman’s pet, a robot sent to mine an asteroid faces an existential crisis. A magician and his son time-travel to Ngoni country and try to change the course of history. A dead child returns to haunt his grieving mother with terrifying consequences. Candace, an ambitious middle manager, is handed a project that will force her to confront the ethical ramifications of her company’s latest project—the monetization of human memory. Osupa, a newborn village in pre-colonial Yorubaland populated by refugees of war, is recovering after a great storm when a young man and woman are struck by lightning, causing three priests to divine the coming intrusion of a titanic object from beyond the sky.

A magician teams up with a disgruntled civil servant to find his missing wand. A taboo error in a black market trade brings a man face-to-face with his deceased father—literally. The death of a King sets off a chain of events that ensnare a trickster, an insane killing machine, and a princess, threatening to upend their post-apocalyptic world. Africa is caught in the tug-of-war between two warring Chinas, and for Ibrahima torn between the lashings of his soul and the pain of the world around him, what will emerge? When the Goddess of Vengeance locates the souls of her stolen believers, she comes to a midwestern town with a terrible past, seeking the darkest reparations. In a post-apocalyptic world devastated by nuclear war, survivors gather in Ife-Iyoku, the spiritual capital of the ancient Oyo Empire, where they are altered in fantastic ways by its magic and power.

The Review

This anthology presents works across a variety of speculative fiction genres. As with any anthology, some works will appeal more to certain readers than others, but Dominion has something for everyone and it has something that almost no other collection of spec-fic has: black people, both as characters and authors.

Speculative fiction in the United States has overall failed black people in terms of representation. Mainstream spec-fic is dominated by white authors. Some well-meaning white authors (such as myself) make efforts to include well-developed characters of other races, but that does little to repair the nearly complete erasure of black people as creators, not just as characters, from the speculative fiction market.

This is not, of course, to say that black people have not made their indelible mark on speculative fiction; one of the most renowned spec-fic authors is a black woman, Black Panther took the world by storm, and Jordan Peele is giving horror a facelift. There are lots of black authors and creators, but a few big names dominating a genre is not enough. Books like Dominion fill an important gap in a lot of people’s reading lists.

The voices of the authors are by no means a monolith; this anthology carries us across cultures, nations, time periods, and genders. Some of the stories I deeply enjoyed, others were not exactly to my taste, but that’s the beauty of an anthology – trying something new.

Many of the authors tackled difficult issues in their works and each one had a unique style and narrative. Not once did I read a story and think “oh, this again.” A few stories had some really unexpected twists and concepts, which I found delightful.

Overall, I find that the spec-fic genre, despite having the infinite bounds of imagination to pull from, sometimes still manages to get a little repetitive. We see the same tropes touched on over and over again.

This collection has fresher takes on certain themes. I highly recommend this anthology to anyone seeking good speculative fiction. I also recommend it to white readers in general, because honestly, you probably haven’t read enough from black authors.

The Reviewer

Dan Ackerman is a writer and educator who has lived in Connecticut for their entire life. They received their BSED from CCSU in 2013 and wrote their Master’s thesis on representations of women in same-sex relationships in contemporary Spanish literature and cinema. Currently, Dan is studying for a second MA in ABA and works in a center school for students with a variety of intellectual, developmental, or multiple disabilities. In their spare time, Dan continues to read and write, supplemented with a healthy amount of movie marathons and gaming.