27 Sep Book Review: We Won’t Fade into Darkness by TJ Benson
Posted at 12:56h
TJ Benson is a chronicler of speculative universes, and yet, his writing pulsates with the urgency of a present moment. His promise as a writer is immense. His stories are written in prose rinsed in empathy, and with an ambition that makes me shudder in expectation for his future work.
— Emmanuel Iduma, author of Farad and A Stranger’s Pose, and editor of Saraba Magazine.
An abusive father is forced out of safety to find his runaway son in a world where males are going extinct and female monarchs have resorted to drastic methods to ensure continuity of the Nigerian race.
An Ogbanje travels to a near post-apocalyptic Nigeria from the past with a solution even she is not aware of.
In a Nigeria where the British never left, a white boy who lives in Lagos seizes a banned book from one of his father’s Nigerian household serfs and their friendship yields a disastrous consequences in Passion Fruit.
In We Won’t Fade into Darkness the past and future comes to a head, indiscriminate exploitation of oil eventually yields Nigerium, a gaseous element that poisons air, destroys reproductive organs and drives people insane.
The common thread in these stories, apart from the country of its setting is the lifeblood of every indigene, hope.
When I started reading WWFID, I did with the awe of a short story lover, anxious to see how each story ends. But TJ Benson took me to the long corridor of suspense, where the stories, and my heart intertwined so much that I couldn’t separate reality from fiction. I loved like Chaga, wandered like Jidenna, while Nigerium slowly took over my veins. I still find it shocking, to see how TJ separated over ten stories, yet connected them so well. In no order, my for faves are Passion Fruit, Jidenna, Life on Earth, and The Killing Mountain. Those stories were written with a heart that could achieve world peace. This is a book about the future and the past. About Science and God. About loss & hope.
Reading some of the stories, I asked myself, what was TJ thinking? How did he make these lines up? He would make certain descriptions, and I would pause, visualize, and go “woooooooow🤯”. It was like swimming through a wave of water. One minute you think you’re getting the strokes right, but the wave gets more powerful. That was what he did with Alárìnká. I felt, oh, I know where this is headed. But I didn’t. I could swear even he didn’t. The characters just keep on wandering. The presence of Nigerium will poison your heart after reading WWFID that you’ll not need another speculative fiction writer asides TJ.
Written by Akinyemi Princely X Adedeji, who can be reached on Instagram & Twitter