Today on the blog we're sharing a guest post by Nicky Drayden, author of The Prey of Gods!
About the Book:
From a new voice in the tradition of Lauren Beukes, Ian McDonald, and Nnedi Okorafor comes The Prey of Gods, a fantastic, boundary-challenging tale, set in a South African locale both familiar and yet utterly new, which braids elements of science fiction, fantasy, horror, and dark humor.
In South Africa, the future looks promising. Personal robots are making life easier for the working class. The government is harnessing renewable energy to provide infrastructure for the poor. And in the bustling coastal town of Port Elizabeth, the economy is booming thanks to the genetic engineering industry which has found a welcome home there. Yes—the days to come are looking very good for South Africans. That is, if they can survive the present challenges:
A new hallucinogenic drug sweeping the country . . .
An emerging AI uprising . . .
And an ancient demigoddess hellbent on regaining her former status by preying on the blood and sweat (but mostly blood) of every human she encounters.
It’s up to a young Zulu girl powerful enough to destroy her entire township, a queer teen plagued with the ability to control minds, a pop diva with serious daddy issues, and a politician with even more serious mommy issues to band together to ensure there’s a future left to worry about.
Fun and fantastic, Nicky Drayden takes her brilliance as a short story writer and weaves together an elaborate tale that will capture your heart . . . even as one particular demigoddess threatens to rip it out.
From the Author:
If you walked out of the theater wondering if Southwest Airlines offers flights to Wakanda, you are not alone. Black Panther goes beyond amazing action sequences and intriguing characters. It also gives us a glimpse into a futuristic, high-tech African country which is a character in its own right. I could have spent the entire movie exploring the sites of the capital city, riding the monorail, haggling with street vendors, and attending a tech fair at one of the universities. I left wanting so much more of this rich, vibrant utopia, including a subscription to the local newspaper so I could check the classifieds for a place to rent.
That two bedroom, two bath apartment with a private balcony overlooking the Wakandan skyline may not be in our future, but I can offer a passport to Afrofuturism--a lens through which we can explore how black culture shapes futuristic and fantastical storytelling. The story mediums are as diverse as the cultures they represent. Independent short films from Kenya, such as Pumzi, where technology has offered an escape from an ecological disaster. Afro-Caribbean novels like Brown Girl in the Ring by Nalo Hopkinson. African-American music videos...remember Michael and Janet’s Scream video and Sock It 2 Me with Missy Elliott & Da Brat? There are also graphic novels. Art. Poetry. The list is long, wide, and many decades deep.
My personal journey into Afrofuturism is one that came out of a visceral wanting--a need to see myself in the great science fiction stories that I love to consume. Thankfully, there was always at least one black person in the future (though usually only one) like Laredo from Galaxy Quest. Ruby Rhod in The Fifth Element. Lando. Morpheus. Guinan. And even Michael Burnham in this new Star Trek Discovery...she is my everything, but even a fully centered black female character “boldly going” doesn’t exactly offer the representation that’s been wholly missing from from my life. And if you can’t find those stories, the only option is to make them yourself.
I wrote The Prey of Gods through the lens of an African-American traveling through South Africa. I visited Port Elizabeth, South Africa during my sophomore year in college as a peer counselor for a group of teenagers learning about renewable energy and environmental protection. We toured several townships with tin huts as far as the eye could see, visited schools, churches, and malls that I wouldn’t have been allowed in only a few years before during apartheid, and talked with teens about their culture and the American culture they in turn consumed.
It was a wonderful exchange, and a lot of my experiences made it into the book. It was also a fun exercise to imagine how South Africa’s unique challenges and strengths could be projected fifty years into the future, when The Prey of Gods is set. Robotics, genetic engineering, and renewable energy are technologies just now emerging from their infancies and are making their way into mainstream conversations, which makes them great subject matter for book clubs. What economic impact will robots have, and how do we protect ourselves against job loss? How far should we go with genetic manipulation of plants, of animals, of humans? What barriers are keeping renewable energy from becoming more popular? Is it the technology holding us back? Politics? Greed? Lack of foresight? What would your ideal city look like? What will life be like if we continue down the path we’re on?
If Black Panther has awakened these questions in you, and you’re interested to see how Afrofuturism deals when them, you might consider discussing Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Talents by Octavia Butler at an upcoming book club. They’re two slim novels that really need to be read together for the best effect. Definitely dystopian, and maybe a little too close to this timeline we’ve landed on. You might also try An Unkindness of Ghosts by Rivers Solomon, Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor, and The Fifth Season, by NK Jemisin. If you’re interested learning more about all of the roots and branches of Afrofuturism itself, check out Afrofuturism: The World of Black Sci-Fi and Fantasy Culture by Ytasha L. Womack.
And if The Prey of Gods ends up on your reading list, please let me know! I’ve got free swag packs just for book clubs, plus a list of discussion questions, and more recommended reads!
Happy reading. Wakanda Forever!