James Draygo used to be a police detective but now he’s a fairy dust addicted psychic just trying to get by. When a well-to-do client gets murdered in his parlour things start to get a little more interesting than Draygo likes and he soon finds himself being dragged through a whole range of complications in an effort to clear his name. Helping him actually put some effort into this are his erstwhile manservant Jinx, the freelance journalist Helen Saunders, and the smart-mouthed ghost of the aforementioned dead client.
This is a remarkably good little book. It tells the tale of an ill-fated caravan journey between Baghdad and Armenia, and how the book’s protagonist and narrator, Masrur al-Adan, manages to survive bandit raids and the attentions of the vampyr stalking them.
I have to say, this one’s given me a lot to think about. It’s a small book, physically speaking, but it has some pretty big things to say about where African F/SF has come from, where it currently stands, and maybe even where it’s going. The book itself is a collection of academic papers on aspects of F/SF created in Africa or by African authors and makes for some interesting and eye-opening reading.
This was an interesting read, albeit one which requires a fair bit of work from the reader. It’s a weird mix of cyberpunk meets colonial sci-fi meets social commentary, held together by some fantastic prose. Right from the first paragraph the writing comes across as a strongly jazz-influenced melange of images and ideas and perfectly sets the stage for what quickly becomes a confusing journey through an alien ecosphere, as seen through the eyes of our protagonist, Kalypso Deed.
Generally speaking, most people think of fantasy as being some analogue of western history with the occasional decidedly anthropocentric non-human races and some variation on a theme of dragons. At least, that’s how it used to be, up until a few years ago. These days, fantasy is a much broader and much more diverse playground, and Tasha Suri’s marvellous debut novel does more than its fair share to add to that diversity.