We are a collection of voices, the assembled history of the many voices that have spoken into our lives and shaped us. Voices of the past, voices of the present, and voices of the future. There is an African proverb, “Se wo were fi na wosankofa a yenkyi,” which translates as “It is not wrong to go back for that which you have forgotten.” This is why we continue to remember the tales of struggle and tales of perseverance, even as we look to tales of hope. What a people choose to remember about its past, the stories they pass down, informs who they are and sets the boundaries of their identity. We remember the pain of our past to mourn, to heal, and to learn. Only in that way can we ensure the same mistakes are not repeated. The voices make up our stories. The stories make up who we are. A collected voice.
The Voices of Martyrs by Maurice Broaddus
Published: 28 February 2017 by Rosarium Publishing
Source: ARC via Netgalley
This Afrofuturistic collection raises voices of power which intersect with the past, present and the future. ‘Warrior of the Sunshine’ opens the collection on a strong note as it follows Lalyani, a warrior and outcast of her tribe as she continues to carve her own path. In this immersive story, I’m glad that the antagonist, Harlaramu met his comeuppance through Lalyani. Though Lalyani perceives Harlaramu’s androgynous appearance as part of his villainous bearing whereas I think his crimes convey his moral character rather than physical traits.
‘Rite of Passage’ viscerally delves into the reality of slave ships, dehumanisation, death and survival. Many of the stories in this ‘Past’ section left lingering impact through the characters and the historical detail shared. In the ‘Present’ section, ‘Cerulean Memories’ touches on the experience of processing grief for a loved one. The writing is poetic, memorable and laden with those complex feelings around memories. I found ‘The Volunteer’ to be an intriguing short story where a man meets a vampiric creature from the Ashanti tribe in America.
As a fan of the speculative horizon, my favourite part of the collection was the ‘Future’ section. The first story, ‘Pimp my airship’ quickly immersed me in this universe. The anti-colonial steampunk edge to this futuristic world was amazing. I would love to read more about this universe and more stories that subvert familiar steampunk tropes in alternate realities. ‘The Valkeries’ was a hard hitting story from the perspective of a soldier on planet. ‘Voice of the Martyrs’ is the final compelling story that delves into colonialism. The many layers to it could be spun into a longer tale, which I would also pick up in the future.