REVIEW: “A Maji Maji Chronicle” by Eugen Bacon

Review of Eugen Bacon, “A Maji Maji Chronicle”, 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).

I, to my embarrassment, did not know of the Maji Maji rebellion before reading this story; I am glad I read up on it (thanks, wikipedia…) before reading this story as it gave me a sense of place and context for it.

What I thought I was going to get was a story about the rebellion, and I did, if only tangentially. What it was primarily was the story of two time-travellers, Zhorr the grand magician of the Diaspora and his son Pickle, and how Zhorr’s actions rewrote the history that we know (as always happens when magicians time-traveller injudiciously!).

To be honest, I expected a story of Ngoni triumph over German; I did not expect how Zhorr’s interference caused the installation of an Ngoni emperor, or the critical eye that Bacon took to the alternate history she created: “Different historical outcomes are not necessarily better than the ones that eventuated them”.

A thought-provoking, unexpected story.

(Originally published in Backstory Magazine 1, no. 1, 2016.)

[Update August 14, 2020: I’d like to apologise to the author for misgendering her in the review as originally posted! The post has been edited to fix my error.]