Publication Date

January 31, 2023

Perspectives Section

Letters to the Editor

To the Editor:

Carl Abbott’s “The Age of Planetary Revolution” (December 2022) reminded me of “Scorched Supper on New Niger,” a short story by Suzy McKee Charnas. Though the story is a conventional one about trade wars and fancy rockets flitting about space between trade ports, much of the action takes place on New Niger, a planet founded by Nigerian market women, who were the only people with enough cash to get started in space travel following a major economic failure in Old Nigeria on Earth. They bought ships, named them with African proverbs, and continued their successful trading practices. The main character is Dee, a female pilot who was rescued by Helen, a Nigerian trader on New Niger. Helen claimed her role as a strong woman leader by invoking a well-known Nigerian event, the Aba Women’s War of 1929. There is also a reference to the punitive practice of “sitting on a man,” in the context of thwarting a non-African man who was trying to take over Dee’s ship and business; the title of the story refers to a deliberately burned meal offered to that man. I appreciated this story that imagined the continued role of African women in the future, fully aware of their past history.

Kathleen Sheldon
Santa Monica, California

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