Conflict in Speculative Fiction


Stafford Battle

Conflict drives stories; conflict fires up red hot emotions and keeps readers engaged. We learn from conflict. We are entertained by conflict.



Roaring crowds.

We all aspire to be winners in some form or fashion, yet, admire the dire sacrifices of the losers. Dedication, loyalty and heroism is exciting, tragic and inspirational. Fictional dramas such as The War of the Worlds, Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica and Star Trek offer hefty doses of conflict and resolution. Thus, these literary and cinematic presentations are popular and long lasting. Multicultural speculative fiction, i.e., AFRO Sci-Fi, Black Fantasy, Sword & Soul, CyberFunk and all their kin, uses conflict involving people of color from all the continents and ocean nations of the world; but, let’s narrow our view to Africa in speculative fiction conflict.

All fiction is based on reality. We look at history or current events and explore extreme possibilities in our tales. There are good guys and bad guys. Bandits and sheriffs with magic powers. Flesh-eating Zombies in the night. Warriors in armor riding unicorns. Werewolves. Exorcists. European overlords seeking gold coins to enslave a planet. The most recent “Wonder Woman” takes us back to World War I, the first “great” war. The movie “Dunkirk” focuses on a great battle in Europe at the beginning of World War II; again, Europe dominated the scenario. Europe is not the only battleground for grandiose conflict to inspire speculative fiction narratives.

Writers can look elsewhere.

The “Great War of Africa” is a reality that we are beginning to see more of in our Speculative Fiction. Africa has a fabulous history of conflict worth retelling and reimagining. The Second Congo War (also known as the Great War of Africa or the Great African War had caused 5.4 million deaths, principally through disease and starvation, making the Second Congo War the deadliest conflict worldwide since World War II. This War has many causal roots. During the 19th and 20th century European expansion into Africa, atrocities against Blacks were horrific. One of which was when a greedy European king purchased a huge chunk of Africa and its people for his own personal pleasure. King Leopold II of Belgium maimed and killed thousands of villagers for rubber, ivory and gold. That evil act generated African heroes that we seldom hear about. The Great War of Africa occurred as Europe brutally dissected and sliced apart Nubian kingdoms and societies that had prospered in peace for centuries. Populations were dispersed, demoralized, stripped of their culture and land; sold like animals to foreign vistas. Post colonialism, international corporations and the re-emergence of rival super powers has again placed pressure on Africa.

Africa knows conflict.

There is much more than Marvel Comics superhero Black Panther and his mythical kingdom of Wakanda to thwart imperialistic ambitions of foreign invaders. For instance, let’s look at Emperor Shaka Zulu where the line between holy savior and evil despot blurs. In historical texts and fictional renderings, the Zulu empire was a serious threat to the expansion of the mighty British forces. Few civilizations, until recently could make that claim.

There are African Gods and demons who could lay waste to Asgard and all of the north. Beat Thor to a bloody pulp. Africa has produced many superheroes, real women and men of phenomenal power and extraordinary fortitude. The rest of the world should know of them. When we write about the Great War of Africa, Black superheroes will win.