REVIEW: “Convergence in Chorus Architecture” by Dare Segun Falowo

Review of Dare Segun Falowo, “Convergence in Chorus Architecture”, in Zelda Knight and Ekpeki Oghenechovwe Donald, ed., Dominion: An Anthology of Speculative Fiction From Africa and the African Diaspora, (Aurelia Leo, 2020) — Purchase here. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman. (Read the review of the anthology).

This was by far the longest story in the collection — more a novellette or almost a novella in length.

One hesitation I had when accepting the invitation to review this anthology was the fact that I am a pretty pasty white westerner who is not really the right voice to be making value judgements on this type of literature: Who am I to say what “works” and what doesn’t?

These worries nipped at my heels as I read this story, so deeply infused with Nigerian religion and history that I am so entirely ignorant of. It would be easy to read this as a straight-up fantasy story, with a panoply of made-up deities and powers, strong world-building, a detailed religion — things I would praise in a story where all of these were in fact made-up by the author! But it doesn’t seem right to call “fantasy” a story that incorporates actual historic beliefs and real-world cultures — not unless we’re also perfectly well prepared to call a story whose only claim to the label “speculative fiction” is a thorough-going foundation in Christianity (though tbh, I’ve often thought that Christianity makes a lot more sense if you think of it was a massively awesomely built fantasy-world religion).

So, is this a fantasy story? I’m not sure. Did it push me to read more and learn more about Ilé-Ifẹ̀ and the founding myths of the Yoruba? Yes. Did it take a long time before I had any idea what the title was in reference to? Yes. Was it a good story? Absolutely!