By: Courttia Newland - Akashic Books, $25.95
Description: Cosmogramma is a dark and incisive collection of speculative short stories set in an alternate future of interstellar space travel, robots, mythical creatures, and the uncanny.
Verdict: In his exquisite first collection of speculative fiction, Courttia Newland envisages an alternate future as lived by the African diaspora.
Here within these pages we get carefully created, wondrously thought out and imagined landscapes of world-building, well-crafted, multi-layered characters, and cultured, thought-provoking, and at all times rivetingly entertaining stories that abound chapter after chapter.
In a book that you simply cannot put down - I couldn’t, at the very least - you find yourself engaged in the action being laid out before you, engrossed within the specific world that is being lovingly crafted and brought forth for your eyes and brain to fold into.
At its core, Cosmogramma (which is an excellent title for this collection, of that have no doubt) is a series of short-format stories, which if you were not already aware, is Newland’s ball park for bringing forth compelling, but yet at times, colorfully speculative fiction.
Here within his chapters we have kill parties that roam the streets of a post-apocalyptic world; a matriarchal race of mer creatures depends on interbreeding with mortals to survive; and amongst other, mysterious seeds appear in cities across the world, growing into the likeness of people in their vicinity.
Through transfigured bodies and impossible encounters, Newland brings a sharp, fresh eye to age-old themes of the human capacity for greed, ambition, and self-destruction, but ultimately of our strength and resilience.
In closing, Cosmogramma is chock full of formidable tales told by a formidable literary voice and complete with characters that are finely drawn with realistic ambiguity and thus exhibiting the co-existing duality of grief and pain perfectly, these tales of what might be are some of his best, if not creatively paranoid works to date.
About the Author Courttia Newland is the author of seven books including A River Called Time, The Gospel According to Cane, and his much-lauded debut, The Scholar. In 2016 he was awarded the Roland Rees Bursary for playwriting. As a screenwriter, he has written two episodes of the Steve McQueen BBC series Small Axe.
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