Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Other Sellers on Amazon
+ $3.99 shipping
Ancient, Ancient: Short Fiction Paperback – May 1, 2012
|New from||Used from|
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
The world as Salaam paints it is full of harsh and beautiful things.... The best of her work is imbued with subtle interventions which ultimately provide the reader with sharply felt revelations.... The stories work from mutual touchstones: the illustration of sex as an act of power; a visceral relationship to the human body...; and the examination of the struggle to find oneself, particularly as a woman, in a world that offers so few options. ... [T]his accomplished collection provides a vigorous exploration into Salaam's unique vision.--Richard Larson, Strange Horizons
Salaam's collection of 10 reprints and 3 original stories introduces readers to alternate worlds built around magic, sensuality, sexuality, and the search for emotional comfort, however tenuous. A lusty god temporarily bestows his sexual spark on a worn-out and unappreciated young woman in ''Desire.'' The world of mothlike aliens who feed on the heated ''nectar'' of human sexual energies is explored in three linked tales. A young man's grandfather sends him time traveling into danger as a punishment in ''Battle Royale,'' while ''Rosamojo'' is a straightforward revenge story about a young girl who uses magic to punish her rapist father. Unearthly magics frame ''Ferret,'' an intriguing snippet about a space colony ship guided by animal divination, and ''Marie,'' in which a pregnant Creole woman is willing to sacrifice anything to feel at home in New York City. Salaam's unusual settings and lonely characters will call to readers who hunger for sex, identity, or just a place to belong. (May) --Publishers Weekly
About the Author
Kiini Ibura Salaam's fiction has been included in such publications as Dark Matter, Mojo: Conjure Stories, and Dark Eros. One of her earlier (and most distinctive) stories, ''Of Wings, Nectar, and Ancestors,'' was translated into Polish, and two of her short stories, ''Desire'' and ''Rosamojo,'' were praised in Publishers Weekly. Her essays have appeared in Essence, Ms., and Colonize This! Her article ''Navigating to No'' sparked a spate of radio interviews, a television appearance, and a college seminar, as well as earned a personal commentary award from the National Association of Black Journalists. Her essay No, which appeared in both Ms. Magazine and Utne Reader, was included in the Longman Publishers composition guide, Reading Into Writing. Though she was born and raised in New Orleans, Salaam lives with her daughter in Brooklyn.
Top customer reviews
This is another case where diversity is not really the right word to use here.1 This is a book of stories where, with one or two exceptions, the focus is on Black womanhood. Sometimes those Black women are in space. Sometimes they coexist alongside gods. Sometimes they live in New York and are beset by nostalgia for Louisiana. Sometimes they are aliens who communicate through dance. But unifying the collection of stories is a deep exploration of Black womanhood. It is a book written within a lived experience for others of that lived experience. It reminds me, in that sense, of Constance Burris’ BLACK BEAUTY.2
All philosophizing aside, this book is full of characters of color. And women. And it has some queer representation.
Salaam is a lovely, poetic writer. From her language choice to the actual structure of the stories themselves, most of the stories in this collection are lyrical and haunting.
One of the clearest themes throughout all the stories is sex, which in virtually all cases3 is a powerfully positive and healing force in women’s lives. In stories like “Desire” and the trio of stories featuring the unnamed alien race represented by WaLiLa and MalKai who feast on human nectar (that is drawn out by way of sex), sex and sexuality is arguably coerced--but still, the power of it and the emotional connection it brings proves healing. Or at the very least complicated. The women in the stories remain agentic throughout even when used as vessels.
But I was more drawn to some of the other themes woven through the stories.4 Movement-as-freedom and movement-as-communication comes up again and again. Most clearly in the WaLiLa and MalKai stories, where WaLiLa and MalKai must learn to forsake their original language of movement/dance for spoken human languages, and again in “Battle Royale.” In “Battle Royale”, the narrator’s insistence on engaging in the flashing game/dance of razors leads to the fever-dream punishment meted out by his grandfather. But movement, or the lack of it, and how it can bring a different kind of freedom comes up in “Debris”, too.
There is an openness in Salaam’s resolutions that I enjoyed. Many of the stories were about a change of direction, a decision point, and were other writers would tell you where the characters were going, Salaam refuses to reveal what happens next. The conflict was that there was a decision to make, she seems to suggest. The trick of her stories is that there emotional gratification in knowing that a decision was made, but we don’t know which path was taken.
Salaam’s stories are fascinating. In particular, I liked “Debris”, “Ferret”, and “Ancient, Ancient”. “Rosamojo” was hard for me to read--I found it triggering--but it is a very good story.
1: I need to write this post already about My Issues With The Word Diversity.
2: Although, if you’re into short speculative fiction featuring Black characters you should really check out BLACK BEAUTY, too.
3: The exception to this is “Rosamojo”. It is a very good story, but if you are triggered by sexual assault, especially as a survivor of childhood trauma, tread with caution.
4: I’m ace, man, I’m not getting the same sex-as-rapture thing these characters are getting.
In the first story, a petty-minded and fantastically vain little deity misuses an innocent bystander to get out of scrape. Everything goes fine until the deity discovers that accidental goddesses aren't always willing to give up their powers as easily as they've acquired them. The world these people (are they people? it's hard to tell...but ultimately irrelevant) occupy is as lush as Pangea (or whatever planet it was where the Avatar people lived), but as gritty and palpable as your favorite big city's skid row. It's the kind of thing you finish reading and kind of blink and look around, like, "Where am I? Oh, right. At home on the sofa."
When I first started reading the book, I had only intended to read the first story but the first was was interesting enough that I started the second one right away. This one features a girl with honey-colored skin and some kind of mystical-sexy way of dance/talking. Sure enough, she goes to a club, but not to dance - she's there to pick up a man. But she's not trying to take him home--not right away, at least--she actually wants something else from him. I won't give away what she wants or what happens next, but it's the first in a series of three stories featuring the same characters -- characters that could easily be the centerpieces of a cinematic or television series. Unlike some of the other characters (who are more beholden to their stories), these characters stay with you long after you've forgotten the particulars of the plot.
All in all, the thing I like most about these stories is the way they make no realistic sense, but perfect make-believe sense: like dreaming while you're awake. Highly recommended for the adventurous or the bored.