I've been thinking about writing a short-story on medieval/ancient Africa

#1
What do you guys think? I'm a big history buff and I love reading fiction so maybe something like an african lotr. Africa really has lots of potential in this regard, so many different kingdoms and time periods to choose from.

Maybe like a fictional epic or something.
 
Jul 2013
85
Canada
#2
I like writing too. I'm planning a story about a sorcerer living in a country based on the medieval Mali and Songhay empires. His country is in a civil war, and after being exiled by an usurper of the throne, he finds himself in an unlikely alliance with his former enemies, a coastal kingdom based on a fusion of Tuaregs and Siddi people of India (I know, a weird mix haha). But he's not sure he can trust them. There's also an empire based on ancient Nubia that's his ally, and may hold a secret in its underground ruins, holding a long-lost technology and weapon....

None of the countries are real ones, but based on the history and cultures of ones that I've read about.

I started writing it a few years ago but got busy and didn't get far. Now I'm planning to restart it.

What's yours about?
 
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#3
Interesting. I'm focusing on looking at an alternate history of Africa, i.e. one in which everything is mostly the same but some elements are tweaked. i.e. no tsetse flys, rhinos and hippos/elephants can be domesticated, Carthage survives Rome and expands into West Africa, having a similar influence in the region that Rome had in Europe. It would be interesting to see how West Africa would evolve not only under an Islamic influence, but a Punic one too.I've got a lot of great ideas too. i.e. the Mongols invade Africa after defeating the mamlukes in 1258 at ayn jalut. i.e. Adal sultanate conquers Ethiopia and Yemen establishing a rival caliphate, of the African flavor.

One thread I'm running on now is a East African king(swahili or somali) presumed to be killed in battle, he survives and returns to his kingdom only to find that it has degenerated into a civil war between 2 sides, and that invaders from across the sea hope to take advantage of the kingdom's weakness and conquer it. He has to defeat the tyrant who claims to be king now and unite his people against the threat from across the sea. I'm going for a lotr/wow/biblical vibe in it, but it's just in my head right now, haven't really written anything on it yet.
 
#5
I'd read either of your stories. Good luck.
I have had a lot of success in writing short-stories, my English teacher loved my stories, he didn't really try hard to mask his excitement either lol. But honestly, this is just a sort of framework right now, I wouldn't even call it a story. A concept that draws from existing fictional fantasy/historical literature.

i.e. what if Axum had spread Christianity around Africa? We've already seen the diversity of architecture when it comes to mosques and temples in Africa, and how Nubian/Ethiopian/Egyptian churches vary, but how would Christianity have been interpreted around the rest of Africa?

I for one would be very interested in seeing a zulu Christian kingdom for example, I know the Kongo kingdom was somewhat Christian at one point due to Portuguese influence.
 
Jul 2007
9,098
Canada
#6
Personally I tend to avoid fantasy elements in historical fiction. Usually anyway. I also tend more to go in for stories focused on single characters, who aren't out to save the world. My perfect historical fiction would take a Western plot and just adapt it to the ancient world. One of my favourites is Aztec by Gary Jennings.

But that's just me ... the fantasy elements would likely be popular with a modern audience I think, and sweeping epics about saving the land or the world have been all the rage for some time now.

Still ... there is so much to explore ... and a focus on a single character who might be a vagabond or mercenary or trader or something would be a good vehicle to explore it all. It's also well-suited to a series of short stories (in the tradition of Sherlock Holmes or Robert E. Howard's stuff).

But anyway ... go for it, I think it's a great idea no matter how you do it. It's an environment not often explored in popular fiction and I'm sure you could bring a very detailed setting here to life.
 
Jul 2013
85
Canada
#7
I'd read either of your stories. Good luck.
Thanks for the kind words!

Personally I tend to avoid fantasy elements in historical fiction. Usually anyway. I also tend more to go in for stories focused on single characters, who aren't out to save the world. My perfect historical fiction would take a Western plot and just adapt it to the ancient world. One of my favourites is Aztec by Gary Jennings.

But that's just me ... the fantasy elements would likely be popular with a modern audience I think, and sweeping epics about saving the land or the world have been all the rage for some time now.

Still ... there is so much to explore ... and a focus on a single character who might be a vagabond or mercenary or trader or something would be a good vehicle to explore it all. It's also well-suited to a series of short stories (in the tradition of Sherlock Holmes or Robert E. Howard's stuff).

But anyway ... go for it, I think it's a great idea no matter how you do it. It's an environment not often explored in popular fiction and I'm sure you could bring a very detailed setting here to life.
I see your point about the whole “saving the world” thing. I personally like it, but I agree it can get tiresome if it’s done all the time.

I have a bunch of ideas about a series of short stories taking place in that universe I described above. My first story is a “Save the universe” idea, but it’s only to set up the series. The remaining stories deal with characters and their problems in that universe.

I like stories involving character development and seeing how they react to their environment, relations with other characters, and conflicts. So I try to do that in my writing, so we see the characters evolve over time, as in real life.
 
Jul 2013
85
Canada
#8
@PreColonialAfrica:
Sounds really cool. That idea you have is something I’ve always thought about: how different Africa would have been without tsetse flies (allowing better use of horses and livestock, resulting in more efficient travel and allowing more states to become centralized and less fragmented) or even if the Sahara region never became a desert (maybe a culture more similar to Egypt and Nubia would have developed further and spread across the Green Sahara and reach the rest of the continent).

I personally believe that if it weren’t for European colonization, Islamic West Africans would have spread Islam across the continent, way down to the south. In the 19th century, just before colonialism there were so many jihads against traditional African states, and in reforming semi-Islamic ones (ie. the jihadists like Usuman dan Fodio, Umar Tall etc...). Powerful traditional African states like the Yoruba states were becoming dominated by Muslims and falling to the Sokoto Caliphate and the Nupe and Fulani-Hausa. The Asante were also strong, but Muslim Hausa were making a huge cultural influence. And on the East coast, the Zanzibari and Omani were spreading further too.

I think the same way that Christian Nubia fell to Muslims, maybe other African states would have suffered the same. So it’s possible that your idea about the Adal Sultanate conquering Ethiopia could have happened, or at least something like that. Being surrounded by Muslim states of North Africa (a former Christian region), West Africa, East Africa and the Middle East, I think African Christianity was doomed until Europeans arrived on the scene.

Anyways, I wish you luck. A story of East Africa is something I’d find really interesting. Are you planning to publish it, or is this just a hobby?

Oh and if you never had the chance, I highly recommend you read some books by Steven Barnes. He has (at least) two books that are about an alternate history where African civilizations developed faster than Europe and came to dominate the world. He’s an amazing author, and did his research, so his books are really interesting and well done. I have the books “Zulu Heart” and “Lion’s Blood”.

Here’s a synopsis of “Zulu Heart”:

“Set in the late 1800's in an alternate universe in which Africa colonized the America's, ZULU HEART continues the stories of two men from very different backgrounds. Kai is a politically important Ethiporan nobleman; Aidan, a white Irishman who was until recently Kai's slave. But just as the promise of freedom has separated these two men's fates, racial discourse is about to reunite them. A rebellion is building toward civil war. Loyalties are being drawn along the lines of homelands, namely Egypt and Ethiopia, and causing the New World to be torn into a North and a South-with Kai and Aidan caught in the crossfire.”
[ame="http://www.amazon.com/Zulu-Heart-Slavery-Freedom-Alternate/dp/B005Q68VQS/"]Zulu Heart: A Novel of Slavery and Freedom in an Alternate America: Steven Barnes: Amazon.com: Books@@AMEPARAM@@http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51N3X4PYZ4L.@@AMEPARAM@@51N3X4PYZ4L[/ame]

It's actually one of my favorite books.....
 
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#9
That is very interesting! That's exactly the kind of stuff I want to write about, I will definitely look these books up.

IDK to be honest, i'll see how it goes, if I can get positive feedback from publishers maybe I'll go forward with it. I have an English teacher who I'm on pretty good terms with who is also an author, I'll probably send him a draft. I've heard there are competitions in which you can enter short-stories, I could start there.
 
Jul 2013
85
Canada
#10
Another author I like is Charles Saunders. I read his book “Imaro.” It has more of a Conan the Barbarian feel to it, not historical, but a fantasy story involving people in a world like Africa. I enjoyed it.

“Saunders' novel fuses the narrative style of fantasy fiction with a pre-colonial, alternate Africa. Inspired by and directly addresses the alienation of growing up an African American fan of Science Fiction and Fantasy, which to this day remains a very ethnically homogonous genre. It addresses this both structurally (via its unique setting) and thematically (via its alienated, tribeless hero-protagonist). The tribal tensions and histories presented in this fantasy novel reflect actual African tribal histories and tensions, and provide a unique perspective to current and recent conflicts in Africa, particularly the Rwandan genocide and the ongoing conflict in The Sudan.”
[ame="http://www.amazon.com/Imaro-Charles-Saunders/dp/1597800368/ref=pd_sim_b_4"]Imaro: Charles Saunders: 9781597800365: Amazon.com: Books@@AMEPARAM@@http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51yWPLYLqlL.@@AMEPARAM@@51yWPLYLqlL[/ame]
 

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