The Unobservable Universe was printed in January 2019 as part of the anthology Anatomy of Hate. The story is in the afro-futurist genre. The anthology explores the effects of hate on both the hated and the hater.
On a planet settled by colonists from Africa, fascist troops are massing. They say they’re only passing through, but good friends Qinisela Akinwande and Assaggi Oladipo are not so sure. To protect their city’s cultural assets from soldiers who have a habit of stealing artifacts that don’t belong to them, Qinisela helps Assaggi move the mysterious Upturned Arch from the city square to a place of safety. The Arch was left behind by long-dead aliens, its purpose unknowable. Whatever it is, the soldiers of the Seventh Imperium want it – and they’re willing to kill for it.
The fascists believe the Arch harbors unimaginable power. If they’re right and its secrets can be unlocked, there will be no stopping the Imperium’s conquest of known space.
When portrait painter Qinisela and museum curator Assaggi discover the true purpose of the alien artifact, they must decide: is it a weapon they can use to fight back against the Seventh Imperium, or has the Arch instead revealed an even greater threat – one that endangers not only all of the far-flung human race, but the universe itself? Only one thing is certain: win or lose, the fight will leave them changed forever.
Why the “Unobservable” Universe? The title reveals the setting for much of the story – the boundless tracts of space that exist beyond what we can see of our universe. The majority of the universe exists outside of the region we can observe. And it contains dangers that threaten everything…
Also, there are large regions of our psyches that are unknowable, outside what we can directly sense or understand, and those parts of us are vital, too, to fathoming our own natures. We, each one of us, harbor our own unobservable spaces…
Here is the back-page blurb for this intriguing collection:
Words tinged with venom.
Twisted people do awful things when harboring so much hate . . .
Hate has a way of making even the calmest of individuals tip over into a dangerous side of themselves. Come along on the journey as we explore what hate really is.
This book can be purchased direct from the publisher’s website by clicking here.
Click here for an alphabetical listing of all of my professionally published short stories.
Publisher: Alban Lake Press
Publication Date: January 2019
Editor: Karen Otto
List of Contributors:
Joyce Frohn (Introduction) | Francis W. Alexander | Ethan Nahté | Nestor Delfino | James Harper | Mike Morgan | Andrea Kriz | Lee Clarke Zumpe | Simon Hardy Butler | Viktoria Faust | Juleigh Howard Hobson | Ashley Dioses | Duke Kimball | Allan Rozinski
Behind the Scenes:
This story was originally short-listed for an afro-futurist anthology to be published by Mugwump Press. However, after extending the deadline for submissions by many months, the publisher found that most of the stories received were from writers not of African descent (including me), and they understandably felt weird putting out a collection with an afro-futurist theme where hardly any of the contributors were black. So, the collection was canceled.
Thankfully, I found a different home for the story – which is why you’re able to read it, of course. I thought the initial publisher’s experience was interesting, although I’m not certain what moral the experience teaches me. I am still mystified as to why the demographic of contributors turned out the way it did.
Fun with Names:
Qinisela is a Zulu name meaning “persevere, ” which he certainly does during the course of the story. His last name, Akinwande, is from the Yoruba language. Assaggi is a name used in many countries in Africa and it means “strong,” which I think is a trait demonstrated by my character Assaggi. Her surname of Oladipo is also from Yoruba, meaning “more wealth,” which may provide a hint as to who wins out by the end…
The planet’s name of Omobolanle is, as is explained in the story, taken from the Yoruba word for “a child who met wealth at home.” There was one publisher who declined to print this story partly on the basis of things like the planet’s name – objecting to this name on the basis that is was a silly, made-up word (it’s not made up and I think calling it silly is culturally insensitive). As a result of the complaint, and to forestall any further risk of objection, I inserted a couple of lines of dialogue where a character explains why the planet is named thus, which also served to point out that it was a real word in a foreign language.
Gerhardt is a Germanic name that translates as “strong spear,” which has no bearing on anything, really. I just liked the sound of the name. I’m not sure what his first name, Timus, means. Again, it sounded right.
The city of Mirembe, however, is named for a reason. Mirembe is a feminine Ugandan name drawn from the Luganda word “emirembe,” meaning peace or quiet. I chose that because the city was a quiet, peaceful place before the Seventh Imperium spoiled it.
It wasn’t only the character and place names in the story that were drawn from Africa. Many of the plants and fashions mentioned are also from Nigeria, Benin, Togo, and countries as far south as Namibia. In the story, Omobolanle is a world settled by people from specific parts of Africa, and they have made a new culture fashioned from heritages and cultures they brought with them.
Links with Other Stories:
This story is part of a series of related adventures called Infinity’s Edge. It is the first one to be published; although, two more are already slated for release. I will update this section as and when the other stories are printed.
In these stories, you’ll notice various places and planets are referenced. Omobolanle exists in an area of our galaxy called the Gorgon Sequence, adjacent to the Jagaron Cluster. In tales set later, the Jagaron Cluster has become the Jagaron Cascade, indicating a terrible calamity of some kind has occurred…
“Why write about Nazis?” you’re asking. My bio at the end of the anthology may shed some light on that:
Mike Morgan hasn’t written about fascists before, but it’s worth mentioning that his father fought in the Second World War against the Nazis and his mother worried every night during the Blitz that they were going to murder her in her sleep.
Not only that, his maternal grandfather was in the D-Day landings and narrowly avoided having his brains blown out by Nazis; no, seriously, another soldier took his grandfather’s place in line charging off the landing boat and took the bullet that would have killed him.
It is possible these facts have informed Mike’s stance on Nazis.
When pressed for his opinions on fascists, Mike’s response often boils down to, “Well, my family generally puts on a uniform, picks up a rifle, and tries to shoot them before they bomb our country into oblivion.”
In short, Mike does not like Nazis and is not at all happy about certain people these days saying they are “fine people, too.” No, they’re not.
It was, perhaps, inevitable that he’d write a story with them in it. Given that he writes a lot of science fiction, they are “space Nazis,” of course, but he hopes that his story captures how much he despises real-life fascists and hopes that, one day, humanity will figure out how to not to judge each other based on race, religion, or nationality.
As it turns out, all this is rather applicable in an anthology concerned with the theme of “Hate.”
Mike had hoped that the writing of this story would help him find some sort of closure when it comes to Nazis but, no, his blood pressure still goes crazy whenever he thinks of them.
Help calm him down by reading his other stories, many of which are available through Alban Lake Press in their Outposts of Beyond magazine and in various books published by Nomadic Delirium Press. Oh, and he’s still telling people he’s got a story in the recently released, award-winning anthology, Mind Candy. Hopefully, he’ll stop bragging over that “award winning” part, but it’s not likely to be any time soon.
If you enjoy sci-fi as much as he does, please follow him on Twitter, where he’s called @CultTVMike, or check out his website, Perpetual State of Mild Panic, where he posts news of his writing and artwork (type the name into a search engine and you’ll find it). And if you do happen to bump into him, remember to say hi from us and ask him nicely to write shorter bios in future.