The best single-author collections of African speculative fiction stories

Who am I?

Novels are great. I’ve written one myself. I have also written many short stories for major science fiction and fantasy publishing venues—Asimov’s, F&SF, Analog, Lightspeed, etc. But there is something special about single-author short story collections. They are like tasting platters. They reveal running themes and can be a unique way to explore places—through the imaginations of its authors. For example, many of my stories are set in or feature characters from Nigeria. I hope you enjoy the books on this list and that they show you something new about Africa and what (some) African authors dream about. 


I wrote...

Book cover of Incomplete Solutions

What is my book about?

An elderly woman in Nigeria is called in to help test the artificial intelligence built from her genius mother’s mind in the Nommo-award-winning story “The Regression Test”. Exiled from Earth for a crime of passion, a man must learn to survive on Mars and come to peace with his past in “Polaris”. “Wednesday’s Story”, nominated for the Caine Prize, is at once a retelling of nursery rhymes and folklore and a meta-fictional meditation on the mechanics and power of storytelling.

From the bustling streets of Lagos to the icy moons of Jupiter, this stunning collection of stories from the vivid imagination of an award-winning writer explores what it means to be African in a world of accelerating technology, diverse beliefs, and unlimited potential.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

The books I picked & why

Book cover of Kabu Kabu

Wole Talabi Why did I love this book?

Kabu Kabu takes its name from Nigerian slang for a dodgy taxi that gets you where you need to go, one way or the other. It’s a fitting name for this short story collection, which took me on a journey of twenty-one stories that include excellent science fiction, fantasy, horror, and excerpts from her wildly popular and award-winning novels. Drawing from her own Naijamerican heritage and using a skillful balance of characters, plot, setting, and themes, Okorafor offers an array of stories based on dual identities, folklore, philosophy, and contemporary issues filtered through a speculative lens.  

By Nnedi Okorafor,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Kabu Kabu as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

Kabu kabu-unregistered illegal Nigerian taxis-generally get you where you need to go. Nnedi Okorafor's Kabu Kabu, however, takes the reader to exciting, fantastic, magical, occasionally dangerous, and always imaginative locations you didn't know you needed. This debut short story collection by an award-winning author includes notable previously published material, a new novella co-written with New York Times-bestselling author Alan Dean Foster, six additional original stories, and a brief foreword by Whoopi Goldberg.


Book cover of A Killing in the Sun

Wole Talabi Why did I love this book?

This collection by one of Uganda’s premier speculative fiction writer/directors features strange, wonderful worlds and deeply fascinating characters with compelling stories uncompromisingly but accessibly rooted in African perspectives and mythologies and I’ve recommended it often. Sometimes leaning literary, other times heavily genre, Dilman has a gift for layering the fantastic on top of the real. The bizarre over the mundane. The prose is direct and clear, and the descriptions are lush. Every story here makes great use of East African culture, mythology, folklore, politics, and everyday life to tell great stories which anyone can enjoy.

By Dilman Dila,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Killing in the Sun as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

‘A Killing in the Sun’ is a collection of speculative fiction from Africa. It draws from the rich oral culture of the author’s childhood, to tell a wide variety of stories. Some of the stories are set in a futuristic Africa, where technology has transformed everyday life and a dark force rules. Others are set in the present day, with refugee aliens from outer space, ghosts haunting brides and grooms, evil scientists stalking villages, and greedy corporations creating apocalypses. There are murder mysteries, tales of reincarnation and of the walking dead, and alternative worlds whose themes any reader will identify…


Book cover of Slipping: Stories, Essays & Other Writing

Wole Talabi Why did I love this book?

Beukes has range and a keen eye, two things that are showcased perfectly in this collection. Experimenting in style, in genre, in tone, in point of view, in everything really. A lot of the stories are overtly speculative, but not all of them are, even though they have a speculative sensibility. Some stories are under 100 words, others closer to 10,000. As someone who enjoys experimental writing, I loved this book. Almost every story features the recurring theme of dehumanization, and they are largely set in South Africa or featuring South African characters. And if that wasn’t enough, there are even 5 nonfiction pieces from her time as a journalist. It's excellent reading. 

By Lauren Beukes,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Slipping as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A Punk Lolita fighter-pilot rescues Tokyo from a marauding art installation. Corporate recruits harvest poisonous plants on an inhospitable planet. An inquisitive adolescent ghost disrupts the life of a young architect. Product loyalty is addictive when the brand appears under one's skin.

Award-winning Cape Town author and journalist Lauren Beukes (Zoo City, Moxyland, Broken Monsters) spares no targets in this edgy and satiric retrospective collection. In her fiction and nonfiction, ranging from Johannesburg across the galaxy, Beukes is a fierce, captivating presence throughout the literary landscape.


Book cover of Incidents at the Shrine

Wole Talabi Why did I love this book?

I really enjoyed this excellent, ethereal collection of stories from Booker Prize winner Ben Okri who, from early on, has always infused the supernatural and dream logic into his literary work to get at a deeper truth in his very grounded stories about post-independence Nigeria and Nigerians. The lightest on its speculative elements out of all the books I’ve recommended, it’s also a great entry point for literary fiction fans looking to ease into the more flighty and wild parts of African speculative fiction. There are all the realities of life – anxiety, joy, poverty, war, love, but there are spirits and strange things too. Okri’s writing lures you in and takes you on a journey to observe Nigerian life from a skewed angle with unexpected tenderness. 

By Ben Okri,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Incidents at the Shrine as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Incidents at the Shrine is the first collection of stories by the author of 1991 Booker Prize-winning novel, The Famished Road. Whether the subject is a child's eye view of the Nigerian Civil War, Lagos and the spirit world or dispossession in a decaying British inner city, Okri's lyrical, poetic and humorous prose recreates the known and the unknown world with startling power.


Book cover of Intruders: Short stories

Wole Talabi Why did I love this book?

This is a short but excellent collection of short stories that focus more on voice, concept, character, and theme than traditional plots, especially when compared to some of the other collections I have recommended but wow, does it deliver on its strengths. I like this book for its colorful and layered writing used to describe new and inventive spins on township folklore galore, tortured friendships and families, unique community bonds, and South Africans in space. These stories linger in the mind and there aren’t a lot of better ways to jump into some of South Africa’s weirdest waters than this. 

By Mohale Mashigo,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Intruders as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Orphan sisters chase monsters of urban legend in Bloemfontein. At a busy taxi rank, a woman kills a man with her shoe. A genomicist is accused of playing God when she creates a fatherless child. Intruders is a collection that explores how it feels not to belong. These are stories of unremarkable people thrust into extraordinary situations by events beyond their control. With a unique and memorable touch, Mohale Mashigo explores the everyday ills we live with and wrestle constantly, all the while allowing hidden energies to emerge and play out their unforeseen consequences. Intruders is speculative fiction at its…


You might also like...

Dinner with Churchill

By Robin Hawdon,

Book cover of Dinner with Churchill

Robin Hawdon Author Of Number Ten

New book alert!

Who am I?

My writing is eclectic and covers many topics. However, all my books tend to have a thriller element to them. Perhaps it's my career as an actor and playwright which has instilled the need to create suspense in all my writings. I sometimes feel that distinguished authors can get so carried away with their literary descriptions and philosophical insights that they forget to keep the story going! It is the need to know what happens next that keeps the reader turning the pages. Perhaps in achieving that some subtlety has to be sacrificed, but, hey, you don't read a political thriller to study the philosophical problems of governing nations!

Robin's book list on lone heroes and threats to national security

What is my book about?

This is a new novel by one of the UK's most prolific writers. It is based around an extraordinary true incident at the start of World War II when fierce political opponents Winston Churchill and Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain encountered each other at a famous dinner party. Seen from the perspective of Lucy Armitage, a young girl suddenly conscripted by a strange stroke of fate into Churchill's overworked but adoring team of secretaries.

As Churchill prepares to take over the leadership of the nation, Lucy finds herself increasingly involved in her famous employer's phenomenal work output and eccentric habits. When romance and the world of espionage impinge on her life, she becomes a vital part of the eternal struggle between good and evil regimes that still exists today.

Dinner with Churchill

By Robin Hawdon,

What is this book about?

It is on historical record that, on the evening of October 13th 1939, six weeks after war had been declared on Hitler's Germany, Winston Churchill and Neville Chamberlain, fierce and implacable opponents for years over the appeasement issue, met together with their two wives, Clementine and Anne, for a private dinner at Admiralty House, and event which caused ripples throughout Westminster.

Chamberlain was still Prime Minister, but had seen all his efforts to negotiate peace with Hitler shattered. Churchill had been recalled to the cabinet after ten years 'in the wilderness', his dire warnings of the Nazi threat vindicated.

Lucy…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in folklore, Africa, and Nigeria?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about folklore, Africa, and Nigeria.

Folklore Explore 330 books about folklore
Africa Explore 240 books about Africa
Nigeria Explore 60 books about Nigeria