Shakura S'Aida on three fantasy novels featuring powerful women
Blues singer Shakura S'Aida is a passionate sci-fi and fantasy reader. She joins Shelagh Rogers in the studio to talk about the three fantasy novels by women that she really fell in love with this year.
The book that takes us to a fairy world
In Restless Dreams is a book by B.C. author Wren Handman, and it's about a high school girl whose mother attempts suicide, so she and her brother have to move to New York and adjust to life there. But the thing she doesn't know about herself is that she is a Phantasmer, and what that means is that she's able to shift realities in Fairy, which is an alternate reality where fairies live. I know Ren personally and I got some information from her about why she wanted to write this, and it's because there are all these different stories about fairies. Everyone has a different relationship to fairies — what they look like, where they came from. And she was curious as to where people got all these perceptions, and so she wrote this book to explain that.
The book that examines slavery
Kindred by Octavia Butler is based in 1976, and it's about a woman who's married to a man who happens to be white. One day, while they're moving into their new apartment, she shifts, and she ends up on a plantation. And the whole thing is that she's shifting in time, going back and forth from plantation times to her time. One time when she shifts, she takes her husband with her, and it's about her life and his life during slave times. The reason I love this book is because of everything that's going on right now — Black Lives Matter, Trump being president, Obama leaving... racial strife is huge right now. In this book, you can see how easy it would be for us to revert back to that state.
The book that reclaims menopause
The New Moon's Arms by Nalo Hopkinson is all about a woman going through menopause, and every time she gets a hot flash, she gets a superpower. What's interesting about this is that when you take us back in time, I think that when a woman went through her mens or her perimenopause or her menopause, that really was considered a powerful thing. And over time that's shifted. So what Nalo did was she took it back to this idea that this is a powerful time.
Shakura S'Aida's comments have been edited and condensed.