Ivor W. Hartmann: Rising Star of African Speculative Science Fiction

On the 14th March 2009, “Earth Rise” by Ivor W. Hartmann was nominated for the international Ursa Major Award in the Best Short Fiction category.

Ivor W. Hartmann is a Zimbabwean author, writing from economic exile in Johannesburg, South Africa. “Earth Rise” and its UMA nomination, represent a major step for African Literature. Firmly set in the genre of Speculative Science Fiction,it shines a welcoming light for African writers to expand from traditional genres, which seem to restrain African Literature.

In Ivor Hartmann’s words, “African genre fiction, which was a sleeping lion, is now changing. Already if you listen carefully, you can hear the start of our African Roar.”

As described by Jim Steel of The Fix (TTA Press, the publisher of Interzone, Black Static, Crimewave,):

“Ivor W. Hartmann’s “Earth Rise” starts with a man waking in his coffin. Obviously we must then travel back and explore his life. Everyone will end up here, but what, exactly, was Thomas Church’s path? He was a scientist in an unnamed African country, trying to develop nanotech wonders for a military dictator. So far he has failed, but there is a ready supply of test victims who keep being marched in to die from the results. His conscience plagues him, but he has to protect his loved ones. Agents, however, have targeted him and want to steal what he has developed. And what has he developed? The story spirals out, and the beginning is not the end, and to say more would be a sin against the author.”

The Ursa Major Awards, more formally known as the Annual Anthropomorphic Literature and Arts Award, is presented annually for excellence in the anthropomorphic arts. It is intended as Anthropomorphic Fandom’s equivalent of the Hugo Award ® presented by the World Science Fiction Society, mystery fandom’s Anthony Award, horror fandom’s Bram Stoker Award, and so forth. The UMA is a global public award and anyone may nominate and vote for candidates for the Awards. These Awards are decided by the fans, not by a committee.

Voting for the UMA finalists is still underway, you too can cast your vote for Earth Rise here.

Congratulations to Ivor for this great nomination. He right in saying that African writing needs to diversify into other genres. I have always felt that we can easily have a Stephen King, a John Grisham, or a J.K. Rowling in Africa.


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