The Ghanaian American actor Ato Essandoh did a 12-minute audio performance of a new short story by the Nigerian writer Solomon Uhiara. “The Extermination Device of the Blacksmith” is a work of speculative fiction. It was written during last year’s lockdown and submitted to Dark Matter Magazine’s inaugural issue.
“The story is set in several places in Nigeria,” Uhiara, who studied Bio Resources Engineering and is fascinated by machines, told Open Country Mag. “Places like my hometown in Umuahia and places like the abandoned modern rail line in the city of Port Harcourt, where I live. I wanted to connect our ancient technological practices with some modern advancements, and even go a step further and make it futuristic.”
It is, he said, “written in such a way that the end remains uncertain, but I couldn’t resist pointing out hopeful and optimistic scenarios, where healing is possible, where evil is overcome with the goodness in science, where the possibility of a better future remains in our hands.”
The idea for a performance came from Ato Essandoh, who read the story and liked it. A co-founder of the writing and performance group The Defiant Ones, Essandoh has starred in notable films like Blood Diamond (2012) and Django Unchained (2012). In his performance, he brings narrative poise amidst the scintillating background music.
“I recall seeing Ato Essandoh in so many movies while growing up,” Uhiara said. “The feeling of having one’s story performed by a movie star like him is thrilling, and a valid sign that in science fiction lies an ocean of possibilities. His performance deepened my belief that my voice matters. He and the Dark Matter team fed the story more oxygen with that amazing production.”
Solomon Uhiara’s work has appeared in Africanwriter.com, Eyetothetelescope.com, Starline, and Polutexni. His climate fiction story, “Soot Shield,” is forthcoming in the first anthology of The World’s Revolution. His short sci-fi story, “A Complete Case Study Based on Alzheimer’s,” is forthcoming in Dark Matter. He is an Associate Member of the SFWA.
Purchase the audio for $1 here. All proceeds from the sale goes to Black Girls Code, a tech hub for girls aged 7-17. Listen to a sample below: