The Apex Book of World SF 4 edited by Mahvesh Murad is coming in late August. Between now and then, we would like to feature some of the contributors in the anthology.

Dilman Dila is a writer and filmmaker from Uganda, whose work has won the BBC Radio Playwriting Competition, the Commonwealth Short Story Prize, Short Story Day Africa prize, the Million Writers Awards, and the Jalada Prize for Literature. His The Felistas Fable was nominated for Best First Feature at AMAA 2014, and won four major awards at the Uganda Film Festival 2014.

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Tell us a little about your story in The Apex Book of World SF 4.

“How My Father Became a God” is a scifi tale set in an African nation long before colonialism. It features a little girl whose brothers are eager to sell her off into marriage so they can earn cattle to find wives for themselves. She has to rely on her father, an inventor, to fight them off. I had a lot of fun writing this story, and I’m thinking of expanding into a novel about the adventures of this little girl with the scientific inventions of her father. What appeals to me about it is the range of possibilities it offers to explore Africa before the Europeans came. We have been brainwashed to believe that sub-Sarahan Africa did not have any technological capacity, nor any scientific ambitions, yet when I look at traditional medicine, when I learn that healers in Bunyoro had perfected the art of caesarean operation long before European doctors had thought of it, when I look at weapons like the shongo knife, I wonder how such communities could not have mastered any technology. They had science, I believe, though it was mixed with religion, but it was a branch of science and it’s sad that much of this has been lost to history. Some stories in my book, A Killing in the Sun, explore this theme, of a science different from what we know as science, and how the world might change if this alternate science is the dominant means of providing our world with technology. Would we have pollution and climate change, and would we be playing God to such disastrous effects?

Why do you feel it is important to read stories from around the globe?

The world is now a global village, but it is dominated by perspectives of one group of people. The stories that are consumed, the films that are made, the products, are all from one kind of culture, but people in other cultures are beginning to question this state of affairs, why they have to consume stories that have heroes and heroines from only one part of the world. It’s not just to diversify for the sake of it, it’s not even to diversify to increase market shares of a product and hence profits. Reading widely improves your appreciation of cultures that are not your own. The biggest problems in the world today, like racism, xenophobia, terrorism, and criminalizing immigration, come from a lack of understanding of other cultures, from a lack of respect of people who are not like you. To summarize it in a single sentence, reading from other cultures enhances peace and love and equality amongst humans.

If you could tell people to read one author from your home country, who would it be and why?

This is a difficult one, since I know several who are good to read, and who have been recognized in international prizes, but I will point out Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi, mostly because her book, Kintu, a historical novel set in Buganda before the Europeans came, has elements of SFF. She is not a specfic writer and I think I would have enjoyed it better if she had treated it as a fantasy, but it’s still a very good read. It unfolds as though it is an oral story, grips you from the first pages and takes you to a world you think you know, but that you find fresh and exciting.

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