Non-Fiction Spotlight: Bridging Worlds: Global Conversations On Creating Pan-African Speculative Literature In a Pandemic, edited by Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki

After the Hugos is before the next Hugos, so I’m continuing my Non-Fiction Spotlight project, where I interview the authors/editors of SFF-related non-fiction books that come out in 2022 and are eligible for the 2023 Hugo Awards. For more about the Non-Fiction Spotlight project, go here. To check out the spotlights I already posted, go here.

For more recommendations for SFF-related non-fiction, also check out this Facebook group set up by the always excellent Farah Mendlesohn, who is a champion (and author) of SFF-related non-fiction.

Speculative fiction from beyond the US/UK is a cause that is close to my heart. Therefore I’m thrilled to welcome my fellow 2022 Hugo finalist Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki, editor of Bridging Worlds: Global Conversations On Creating Pan-African Speculative Literature In a Pandemic to my blog.

Bridging Worlds, edited by Oghenechovwe Donald EkpekiTell us about your book.

The Bridging Worlds anthology is a Pan-African, pandemic non-fiction anthology. It aims to chronicle and document the experience of Black people and Africans creating speculative fiction during the first year of the covid 19 pandemic. It was a harrowing year for all and those in publishing, with whole economies shutting down. There were riots and political upheavals in Nigeria where I am. And Black people and Africans caught the brunt of it, with vaccine hoarding policies, being the most vulnerable demographics even in advanced countries and economic shutdowns hitting developing African countries the hardest. So this is the story of how we lived, survived and thrived, what it cost, what we gained and lost, from all the amazing individuals we could capture their experiences.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’m an African speculative fiction writer, editor, publisher, conrunner, slush reader, award administrator, founder and a bunch else. I am currently a resident of Nigeria but travelling the US, unshackled and ungrounded by the rocket, my words and the voices of all who oppose discrimination in society.

What prompted you to write/edit this book?

It just seemed like often we were shouting into the void, and not being heard. The works we create were received with narry a thought for where they came from or the work that went into them. It might seem like a seperate issue, the origin of the work. But a creator’s identity is very valid to their creation. And you cannot properly value a body of work without knowing it’s history or it’s creator. I witnessed a lot of struggle during the pandemic year, from my perch in Nigeria. And interacted with a lot of writers and creatives of African descent. And I just knew that these experiences needed to be documented, seen and heard.

Why should SFF fans in general and Hugo voters in particular read this book?

It should be a must read by true genre fans and Hugo voters because it’s an integral part of genre history. A chronicle of one of its most turbulent times, by some of the most enduring and resilient people.

Do you have any cool facts or tidbits that you unearthed during your research, but that did not make it into the final book?

A lot actually. My own experiences with both editing and publishing this book, depredations by Amazon and Smashwords-Draft2Digital, who wrongfully suspended my books and confiscated my funds, some of which they still hold. All this backed by their racist policies. There just might be a volume 2 of this book since there still happens to be a lot to the story that needs to be told.

SFF-related non-fiction is somewhat sidelined by the big genre awards, since the Nebulas have no non-fiction category and the Best Related Work Hugo category has become something of a grab bag of anything that doesn’t fit elsewhere. So why do you think SFF-related non-fiction is important?

I think sff related non-fiction is important because it tells the very integral and real story of fiction. The things that need to be said directly, not disguised, hidden behind anecdotes and in strange worlds. Where fiction is the shiny, metal exterior of the vehicle, non-fiction is the engine, the inner workings that drive it’s movement.

Are there any other great SFF-related non-fiction works or indeed anything else (books, stories, essays, writers, magazines, films, TV shows, etc…) you’d like to recommend?

Well, there’s Suyi Davies Okungbowa’s newsletter on the craft of writing.

My own non-fiction piece ‘Too Dystopian For Whom, A Marginalized Nigerian Writer’s Perspective’ in the latest issue of Uncanny magazine.

Kristy Anne Cox’s series on disability in Strange Horizons.

Where can people get your book?

Following the depredations of the publishing giants, which I mentioned above, the book is now free to download in all formats here

https://ekpeki.wordpress.com/2022/09/10/bridging-worlds-global-conversations-on-creating-pan-african-speculative-literature-in-a-pandemic/

[Since Bridging Worlds is a free download, just include that link]

https://ekpeki.wordpress.com/2022/09/10/bridging-worlds-global-conversations-on-creating-pan-african-speculative-literature-in-a-pandemic/

Where can people find you?

On Twitter: https://twitter.com/penprince_

Instagram: https://instagram.com/penprince

Facebook: https://facebook.com/penprince

Website: https://odekpeki.com

Thank you, Oghenechovwe, for stopping by and answering my questions. Do check out Bridging Worlds: Global Conversations On Creating Pan-African Speculative Literature In a Pandemic, because it’s a great anthology. Besides, it’s free, so you really have no excuse not to.

About  Bridging Worlds: Global Conversations On Creating Pan-African Speculative Literature In a Pandemic:

The Bridging Worlds non-fiction anthology examines the difficulties Black people and African writers faced in the 2020 pandemic-lockdown breakout year and how they navigated them. Bridging Worlds seeks to explore the threads and lines that connect us as we navigated this singular yet multifaceted experience, and show that connection in the various non-fiction pieces written in the diverse styles and forms the authors chose.

Bridging Worlds contains 18 pieces of speculative non-fiction, by 19 creatives aimed at documenting the experiences we had as speculative creators during that very challenging year.

It contains essays, interviews, narrative non-fiction pieces, whatever styles the creatives chose to tell their stories in. Stories that touch on their hopes, difficulties, losses, successes and further plans. It is meant to be an integral contribution to the speculative fiction canon and shed much needed light on the marginalized and scarcely represented Black and African experience

About Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki:

Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki is an African speculative fiction writer and editor in Nigeria. He won the Nebula award and is a multiple Hugo finalist. He also won the Otherwise, Nommo, BFA and is a finalist in the WFA, Locus, BSFA, & Sturgeon awards. His short story Destiny Delayed appeared in the May/June issue of Asimov’s. His other fiction and nonfiction have appeared in Strange Horizons, Galaxy’s Edge, Apex, Tor.com, and more. He edited and published the Bridging Worlds anthology, the first ever Year’s Best African Speculative Fiction anthology, and co-edited the Dominion and Africa Risen anthologies. He founded Jembefola Press and the Emeka Walter Dinjos Memorial Award For Disability In Speculative Fiction. He’s a 2022 Can*Con guest of honour and 2023 ICFA guest of honour

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Are you publishing a work of SFF-related longform non-fiction in 2022 and want it featured? Contact me or leave a comment.

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1 Response to Non-Fiction Spotlight: Bridging Worlds: Global Conversations On Creating Pan-African Speculative Literature In a Pandemic, edited by Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki

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