cover image Convergence Problems

Convergence Problems

Wole Talabi. DAW, $27 (320p) ISBN 978-0-7564-1883-0

Talabi returns (after Shigidi and the Brass Head of Obalufon) with a jaw-dropping collection of 16 afrofuturist stories uniquely blending mythology and technology in settings ranging from far-future Lagos (“Debut”) to a Martian drilling rig (“Blowout”). Talabi’s engineering background is evident in the level of detail he devotes to the technological workings of his imagined machines; equally impressive is his skill for drawing in even the most technologically illiterate of readers. Each section of “Ganger,” one of the collection’s longest entries, begins with a fragment of a Yoruban folktale that parallels the experience of teen protagonist Laide in the far-future, droid-powered enclosed dome of Legba-6. A similarly well-executed combination of folklore and technology animates the standout final story, “A Dream of Electric Mothers,” in which politicians consult an ancestral consciousness to aid in their decision-making processes. For the most part, Talabi tackles such universal themes as freedom or grief in hyperspecific situations, though there are outliers; “Silence” is a brief love story between unnamed characters with no hints as to its setting. Beautiful, vibrant, and electrifying, this has the makings of a modern classic. Agent: Bleke Van Aggelen, African Literary. (Feb.)