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Thompson, Tade

Entry updated 20 December 2021. Tagged: Author.

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(1970s-    ) UK psychiatrist and author, in Nigeria from around 1976 to 1998; he began publishing work of genre interest with "The McMahon Institute for Unquiet Minds" in Ideomancer for September 2005, set in a post-Invasion London. His first novel, Making Wolf (2015), which won a Kitschies Golden Tentacle award as best debut, is an intricate gonzo thriller set in an Alternate History version of a country not here called Nigeria, which at points edges surreally into the fantastic as its protagonist, pretending to be a professional detective, is forced to assume the role. The Molly Southbourne sequence, comprising The Murders of Molly Southbourne (2017) and The Survival of Molly Southbourne (2019), is a strongly Equipoisal narrative in which a young girl's involuntary creation of Clones of herself whenever she bleeds evokes various understandings of what is happening (see Gothic SF; Horror in SF); during the course of the tale Identity crises assault the protagonist savagely, and she is forced to flee those who would steal her essence.

Thompson is of strong sf interest for the Wormwood sequence beginning with Rosewater (2016), a complexly crafted First Contact/Invasion tale set initially in London, target of a mysterious artefact which may have arrived from space, and buries itself Underground; the central action, several decades into the Near Future, takes place in Lagos, Nigeria, where an edificial Keep appears suddenly from beneath the earth, suggesting it may be organically connected with the earlier visitant. Very occasionally, this Macrostructure opens portals in its intricate carapace, from which come gifts of healing, and which inspire the growth of a ramshackle circumambient City of suffering aspirants: this may evoke echoes of Mervyn Peake's Gormenghast; and can plausibly be seen as an extremely vividly presented rendering of Imperialism from the coign of vantage of an adroit Afrofuturism. In the event, the dome also generates a kind of techno-noosphere (see Communications; Cyberspace) which both transmits and sucks up information. America having shut itself off from the world 45 years earlier, and remaining trapped in toxic isolation, the complex storyline adheres properly to Africa, where the action of the world is now focused. The motives of the "invaders" remain unclear. Rosewater won the 2019 Arthur C Clarke Award. The second volume of the sequence, The Rosewater Insurrection (2019), takes place in a debilitated world where Entropy seems literally to have accelerated: but whether this is through alien sapping, or a fate all share, is not yet clear. The Rosewater Redemption (2019) reintroduces the Temporal Adventuress Oyin Da into an increasingly fractured Nigeria, and offers no easy solution to the problems of survival in Thompson's recognizable world.

With Far from the Light of Heaven (2021), Thompson ranges further into the SF Megatext: a Generation Starship, transporting a thousand passengers in Suspended Animation, but piloted by a possibly inimical AI, is en route via Wormhole to the planet Bloodroot. A supervisory crew member awakens to find chaos and murder; a detective is sent up from Bloodroot, an investigation is mounted and crisply conducted. An element of jeu d'esprit may be evident, but no contempt for the tale told. [JC]

Tade Thompson

born London: early 1970s

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Wormwood

Molly Southbourne

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