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I was excited to see the Amazon Prime: Black Stars Collection pop up on my Kindle App. Black Stars features six short stories written by powerful Black authors. The first book by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s titled The Visit, sparked my interest. Finding Nalo Hopkinson and Nnedi Okorafor on the list was everything. Since I have Amazon Prime, it was free for me. I quickly added them to my Prime Reading library. All the stories are standalone.
Reminiscent of Twilight Zone, the collection explores space, alternative futures, while the past lingers beneath the surface, making its presence known at just the right time. It differs with its reoccurring themes that remain constant in all the stories, which is the preservation of knowledge, importance of history, and free thought.
“How you gonna change the world if you play within its rule set? – Wenda
I started with Nalo Hopkinson. Her piece titled “Clap Back” is my favorite so far. There are so many quotable phrases in this piece. It’s a blend of art, science, and root magic. Wenda, the main character, collects figurines symbolic of the Old South for her final project. But Wenda’s plan doesn’t have momentary impact but spans well into the future. She creates an underground railroad of sorts, ensuring the past lives on. She makes use of a popular nanite driven fashion trend, applying its code, blood, and root magic to ensure the survival of suppressed voices. It’s worth reading more than once.
They seem to want to destroy all things that are about knowledge, history, and free thought. – Issaka
The Black Pages
“The Black Pages” by Nnedi Okorafor follows the fruit of a family’s labor, Issaka, He returns to Timbuktu from Chicago. He knows of war from what he’s seen on the news, but war is quite different when you’re in the heart of it. Famous for its material, religions, and intellectual wealth, Timbuktu is now under siege. Books are being burned and their keepers killed. The al‑Qaeda, fire, and dark spirits meticulously erase with knowledge but Issaka carries with him a means to protect it.
It’s a clever piece. I love how Nnedi shows the transition of old texts into digital through the consciousness of an ancient spirit. So many examples of the generational divide expressed through language and mindset. The shift in the meaning of words, gender roles, and the flightiness of time. The Black Pages was a modern version of the destruction of an empire. It felt like I was in the middle of Timbuktu’s fall.
And today it had been announced: male masturbation would remain illegal, punishable by up to fifteen years in prison.
– Supreme Court’s Decision
The Visit takes a page from Beyoncé’s, “Run the World (Girls).” It’s a real look at hierarchical reversal. Instead of the world being a patriarchy it is a matriarchy. The rules and stereotypes applied to women are placed on men. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie pens a feminist approach to my body choice. It’s funny seeing the roles flipped. A rude female police officer critiquing a man’s clothes and equating it with his reputation. I’ll admit it was a little hard to jump into initially, but it was worth the ending.
Adichie’s work is very Nigerian from the character names, food, clothing, and traditions, yet it has very worldly views. I think it’s because the told from a non-western viewpoint that it packs such a punch. I have not finished the collection, but I’m working my way through it between life: work and other things. The Black Stars Collection is worth the read.
The Black Stars Collection includes:
- The Visit by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
- The Black Pages by Nnedi Okorafor
- 2043… (A Merman I Should Turn to Be) by Nisi Shawl
- These Alien Skies by C.T. Rwizi
- Clap Back by Nalo Hopkinson
- We Travel the Spaceways by Victor LaValle
If you are a subscriber of Amazon Prime and Audible, the stories are free. If you don’t have Prime or Audible, the eBooks are $1.99. For Audible, it’s a sales tactic. Right now, Audible is offering three months free.