Cosmogramma

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Pub Date 28 Oct 2021 | Archive Date 28 Oct 2021

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Description

In his sharply crafted, unnerving first collection of speculative fiction shorts, Courttia Newland envisages an alternate future as lived by the African diaspora.

Robots used as human proxies in a war become driven by all-too-human desires; Kill Parties roam the streets of a post-apocalyptic world; a matriarchal race of mer creatures depends on inter-breeding with mortals to survive; mysterious seeds appear in cities across the world, growing into the likeness of people in their vicinity.

Through transfigured bodies and impossible encounters, Newland brings a sharp, fresh eye to age-old themes of the human capacity for greed, ambition and self-destruction, but ultimately of our strength and resilience.

In his sharply crafted, unnerving first collection of speculative fiction shorts, Courttia Newland envisages an alternate future as lived by the African diaspora.

Robots used as human proxies in a war...


Advance Praise

‘Newland's work is tender but urgent, grounded but visionary. Risks don't frighten him. These highly imaginative, often cautionary tales seem the product of a world governed by outrage, anxiety and unease. You won't forget them in a hurry. Nor should you’
RUPERT THOMSON        

‘The stories in Cosmogramma are shot through with a sense of foreboding, a feeling that we as a species are heading for self-annihilation if we don’t get our act together and fast. In that sense, and in several others, the stories feel unsettlingly contemporary and can – and should – be read as a last call to action. "The Sanofka Principle" in particular bent my mind out of shape, in a good way. Now there’s a story that requires (and repays) close reading!’
STEPHEN THOMPSON        

Praise for A River Called Time:


‘A real gem of a book . . . There are so many brilliant parallels drawn between the world we live in as well as gentle prods towards the reality we could create . . . an excellent, beautiful read that will make you think while taking your breath away’
DOROTHY KOOMSON
  
‘A masterful reimagining of the African diaspora's influence on England and on the world . . . No other way to put it, this book is true Black magic’
VICTOR LaVALLE        

‘Courttia's writing is rich with passion and humanity. He manages to convey great depth without ever losing his lightness of touch. A rare feat only reserved for the few’
STEVE McQUEEN        

‘A vast and wildly ambitious piece of speculative fiction that asks what the world would look like if slavery and colonialism never existed’
Observer        

‘Gloriously enthralling. An immersive, ambitious reimagining of the city from a formidable British voice. Newland’s magnum opus’
IRENOSEN OKOJIE

‘Astonishing speculative fiction, interrogating social inequality, the complexities of truth and the very essence of what it is to be human, all in Newland's precise and powerful prose’
NIKESH SHUKLA        

‘If you want to know the story of Britain, it’s really important to read Newland’
LEMN SISSAY, Observer

‘Newland's work is tender but urgent, grounded but visionary. Risks don't frighten him. These highly imaginative, often cautionary tales seem the product of a world governed by outrage, anxiety and...


Available Editions

ISBN 9781786897091
PRICE £12.99 (GBP)

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Featured Reviews

In the style of Ted Chiang, these are wonderful speculative short stories that paint chilling pictures of the (near) future. Most of them start out relatively mild and interesting, but unravel quickly and left me with a disturbed feeling, which is exactly what you want from these kinds of stories.

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"Cosmogramma" is an absolutely fantastic collection of stories by the incredibly talented and skilled Courttia Newland. The writing is smooth as silk, the characters are incredibly vivid (especially considering we don't have much time to get to know them, since these are shorts), and the plots are perfectly formed and thoroughly enjoyable. In fact, if I could ask one person "What do you think of...?" it would be Courttia Newland - that imagination is priceless. My thanks to the author, publisher, and NetGalley. This review was written voluntarily and is entirely my own, unbiased, opinion.

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I used to devour short story compilations as a kid, partially because they were a bite-sized way of getting the sci-fi thrills I was looking for, partially because my local library had a lot of them. In the 80’s a lot of the bigger SF authors had graduated by writing for the pulps, and then the more serious SF magazines. And quite a few of them let the stories be jumping off points for later novels and so on. And mixed author collections often set out a flag for people I would latterly enjoy more (hello Robert Sheckley).Perhaps I drifted from short stories because they weren’t things I bought, or because I liked the push of a long narrative. I have certainly enjoyed the recent resurgence in novellas, when I haven’t actually been buying them (the cost / word count ration shouldn’t be an issue to me but….is). All of which is to say that Courttia Newland’s collection Cosmogramma, flexed reading muscles I hadn’t used for a while. Described as an Afro-Futurist writer in the blurb, whilst there is a strong black theme through many of these stories, it equally ticked a strong London voice with me, much of this taking place in and around various versions. I think of short story construction being a triangle – idea – voice – place, and on the most part Newland makes sure that at least one of these three are familiar whilst tweaking the others. So whilst there are a few idea heavy stories here, they tend to lean more on the individual story that threads through impact of the idea (Seed - a take on the seed pod version of Invasion Of The Body Snatchers which works well just because the viewpoint character convinces, as the familiar unfolds around him). On the other side the first story here, Percipi, is broadly a narrated info dump of a future history of androids which become slaves which have their own uprising and succeeds with anything resembling a central character. Newland has range. Short stories are an art in themselves and the hit to miss ratio here is very much on the hit side, though I am now interested in reading some of his longer form work (which appears to bounce around genre as much as my reading does). The stand out for me here was an accidental time travel story, The Sankofa Principle, which again is told from a distant third person narrator but getting to the heart of the difficulty of the moral imperative that underpins more austere, privileged sci-fi. Well worth dipping into, and has single-handedly got me requesting a few more short stories for my reading diet.

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A fantastic collection of short stories, expertly written with gripping plots and memorable characters.

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