THE CARL BRANDON SOCIETY recommends these books of speculative fiction by writers of African descent for Black History Month 2009

THE CARL BRANDON SOCIETY recommends these books of speculative fiction by writers of African descent for Black History Month 2009, with descriptions from our members:

DARK MATTER: A CENTURY OF SPECULATIVE FICTION FROM THE AFRICAN DIASPORA (Sheree R. Thomas, ed.): It’s an important book because it shows that people of color were indeed represented in the speculative literature world back in the day, something I frankly didn’t realize until I read the book. I’m sure the book will do the same for many others.

SLY MONGOOSE Tobias S. Buckell: Fourteen-year-old Timas lives in a domed city that floats above the acidic clouds of the Venus-like planet Chilo. To make a living Timas is lowered to the surface in an armored suit to scavenge what he can in the unbearable pressure of Chilo’s dangerous surface, where he’ll learn a secret that may offer hope to a planet about to be invaded.

FLEDGLING Octavia E. Butler: A different take on the vampire novel.

THE GOOD HOUSE Tananarive Due: The story of a house, magic, and pure terror. I loved every scary moment of reading this book.

MIDNIGHT ROBBER Nalo Hopkinson: Caribbean folk in space, coming of age, magnificent aliens, how “reality” becomes folk tales. Magnificent.

THE SHADOW SPEAKER Nnedi Okorafor: When fifteen-year old Ejii witnesses her father’s beheading, her world shatters. In an era of mind-blowing technology and seductive magic, Ejii embarks on a mystical journey to track down her father’s killer. With a newfound friend by her side, Ejii comes face to face with an earth turned inside out — and with her own magical powers.

THE ICARUS GIRL Helen Oyeyemi: The first book by a talented new author. Set in England and Nigeria, this is the tale of magic gone wrong and twisted around an unsuspecting child.

WIND FOLLOWER Carole McDonnell: Loic, the son of the wealthy headman of the Doreni clan, falls in love at first sight with Satha, the impoverished but proud daughter of his father’s old Theseni friend. Loic requests an immediate marriage, but for Satha, passion takes longer to ignite, and Loic’s father’s jealous third wife plots to destroy their happiness. The two must reaffirm their faith in each other and the Creator God to find their way through their troubles.

SONG OF SOLOMON Toni Morrison: A novel of southern-fried magical realism that rivals anything the Southern Hemisphere has produced.

FILTER HOUSE Nisi Shawl: A long-awaited collection of short stories by a Carl Brandon Society founder. Shawl’s roots in African American community of the Great Lakes area, and her commitment to using speculative fiction to decode power relationships and uncover magic come through loud and clear in this wonderful book.

Tanith Lee Blurb


The legendary author Tanith Lee has agreed to blurb Sea, Swallow Me.  Future copies of the book will have an edited version of the following blurb.

Sea, Swallow Me is a wonderfully original and eventful collection, whose stories range from the supernatural to the historical to the right-now moment. Craig Gidney combines an exceptional gift for prose poetry – often as dark and steely as it is beautiful – with an unerring sense of the preposterous and the horrifying. ( But add to that also occasional hilarity that should make a stone laugh aloud.) He breaks rules and remakes them, as many talented writers will, and is undaunted by the murks of society or psyche. Though inevitably ( and rightly ) he brings to his work the voices of Black and Gay Experience, what speaks most strongly throughout is the Human Experience – yes, even when confronted by a god of the sea. Here are elements of the young Ray Bradbury, of John Steinbeck, of Toni Morrison and James Baldwin and Angela Carter. But most of all it is the uniqueness of Gidney’s own take on life, clad in vivid, cunning and, in places, Dionysian language, that make this a must-read ( and read again ) collection. With new writers producing work of this caliber, the future of books looks bright.

Thanks to Ms. Lee.  It truly is an honor!

Sarah Singleton Reviews Sea, Swallow Me!


One of the criminally underrated ya authors (whose excellent novel Heretic was published last year in the US as Out of the Shadows) says this about Sea, Swallow Me in her Amazon review:

4.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, lyrical and powerful, January 9, 2009

Craig Laurence Gidney’s anthology of short stories is a jewel box of literary treats. Evocative, sensual, passionate and beautifully written, Gidney communicates a powerful sense of place and conveys with compassion and insight what it feels like to be outside the mainstream. The collection provides many delicious confections for the lover of the arcane, the decadent and the gothic, such as the carnival (Catch Him by the Toe) and the penniless Parisian artist Rimbaud (Strange [Alphabets]). The tone is leavened by a dark humour (the mother in Her Spirit Hovering is a scream) and the stories contain many brilliant scenes. It is hard to pick a favourite but I think I’ll go for Circus-Boy without a Safety Net because of the emotional impact created for me in the scene when CB’s parents find his doll and strip his bedroom – the sense of the boy’s precious dream and the shame his parents inflict on him are shattering. It’s a marvellous collection, in both senses of the word.

Elisa Rolle reviews Sea, Swallow Me.

A reviewer by the name of Elisa Rolle had some wonderful things to say about SEA, SWALLOW ME, including:

As I said, the anthology is not simple, but it’s mesmerizing. It’s full of color and flavor, an intoxicating mix that catches you while reading and lingers afterward. All the tales are mostly sad, but not without hope; the romance is not the target of the characters and so it’s not even the final point of the stories; they are almost all self discovery journey, and the ending point of the journey not always is a light and beautiful paradise.

The rest of her review may be read here.


Sea, Swallow Me was nominated for a Lambda Literary Award (“Lammie”) in the gay debut fiction category.  It faces some tough competition, but it’s an honor to be nominated at all, first time out of the gate.

Review from Obsidian Bookshelf

The book received a great review from a site called Obsidian Bookshelf.  Here is an excerpt:

Sea, Swallow Me is a striking collection of short stories that crackle like flames on the border between fantasy and horror. It offers a perspective we don’t often get in speculative fiction: that of the gay, southern, African American male.  For that alone and the poetic writing, Sea, Swallow Me is worth reading.

You can read the rest of Val Kovalin’s review here.


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