Book Review: Cosmogramma by Courttia Newland

by @edent | , ,

Book cover with intricate twirling patterns of colour.

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.

Every book that you read over the next decade will be about the COVID19 pandemic - in one way or another. We all now live in the shadow of fear and death - and this is reflected in the fiction that people write.

Cosmogramma is an excellent collection of short stories. Frustratingly, each feels like the synopsis of the first half of a decent sci-fi book. Perhaps it's because we're only halfway through this global plague? It's slightly frustrating that we never reach the conclusion of the stories - especially as they're so robustly realised.

They're a good mix of stories. Past, present, future, off-world, aliens, mutants, robots, and mer-folk. It could almost be a full series of Doctor Who! As with any compendium, there's a couple of duff stories - but they're over quickly.

It's made me eager to read more of Newland's work.

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