Mothership: Tales of Afrofuturism and Beyond edited by Bill Campbell and Edward Austin Hall

Reviewed by Vanesa Pacheco

“We can also assume that it’s dead because a melanin-devouring plague (Schuylerosis?) either killed all people of color or that same plague killed all the melanin on the planet, leaving only a handful of affable sidekicks in its wake.” – Bill Campbell, editor of Mothership: Tales from Afrofuturism and Beyond

It’s not surprising that, to this day, depictions of the future (be it utopian or dystopian) continue to create worlds where people of color only exist as token splashes of diversity. The genre of science fiction and fantasy has the power to construct a world where artificial intelligence takes over Earth, magical serums save humans from zombies, or life as we know it now happens in space. Nevertheless, the majority of popular sci-fi/fantasy texts have only continued to perpetuate the social constructs of western society. We basically see white saviors or societies that show “everyone else” as lesser–and that isn’t too far off from how the world works now.

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From the desk of Vanesa Pacheco 

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Islanders by Teow Lim Goh

Reviewed by Vanesa Pacheco

Teow Lim Goh’s collection of poems imagines the lost stories of the women detained on Angel Island’s Immigration Station, as well as of their families, staff, and of those involved in the 1877 San Francisco Chinatown Riots. Decades after the Immigration station closed, poems were found written on the walls of the men’s barracks sharing their thoughts, documenting their experiences, and giving voice to their journeys. Unfortunately, those of the women’s were destroyed in a fire that burned down their barracks and, ultimately, erased their words. As Goh shares with The Fem, she blends “fact and fiction, politics and intimacy” to give voice to their tales so that others may finally hear their stories.

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Voyage of the Sable Venus: From Art to Identity | A Review by Vanesa Pacheco

The World wants to know
What I am made of. I am trying
To find a way
To answer Her.

-from “On the Road to Sri Bhunvaneshwari,” Voyage of the Sable Venus and Other Poems

To read these poems, you confront realities of past and present. There are no lip trills or fancy six-syllable words to confuse the brain and muddle the imagery. Instead, there is raw and honesty in metaphor with touches of honey to help you swallow. We are trekked back in time to individual moments and left alone to digest on how powerful words are on perception and identity.

Robin Coste Lewis, in The Voyage of the Sable Venus and Other Poems, questions where ideas, stereotypes, and concepts about the black female figure begin. To do so, Lewis creates a narrative poem using only the words titling or describing Western art that feature black women. Additionally, Lewis includes autobiographical poems that both open and end the book as a way of placing her own history and identity-shaping in the midst of the world’s. Continue reading “Voyage of the Sable Venus: From Art to Identity | A Review by Vanesa Pacheco”