Convergence Problems by Wole Talabi science fiction book reviewsConvergence Problems by Wole Talabi science fiction book reviewsConvergence Problems by Wole Talabi

Convergence Problems by Wole Talabi is a collection of sixteen science fiction stories by the author of Shigidi and the Brass Head of Obalufon (one of my most pleasurable reads lately). As with any story collection, Convergence Problems varies in impact of each individual piece, but if I wasn’t blown away by any of the tales save one, the collection as a whole is nicely consistent along the 3-4 scale, with no stories I’d call “weak” and most at the 3.5/4.0 level, making it in my mind a strong collection.

While the stories may incorporate familiar plots/subjects, they are freshened up by their (mostly) Nigerian setting on a surface level and more substantively by Talabi intermixing Yoruba folklore in several of the stories. As for those subjects, they range from several dystopic stories to stories that focus on grief, government corruption, freedom, AI, suicide, and more.

Talabi also plays with form in a number of stories, while others are more traditional hard sci-fi with the level of detail one might expect from an engineer, which Talabi is (I’ll confess sometimes the technical detail were a bit much for me — YMMV).

Overall, I’d recommend the book for the consistency of its above average quality, it’s relatively fresh take on familiar elements, and its playful use of form and structure.

A few specifics:

  • “Debut” — A story about AI sentience and art creation that is just as long as it should be and no longer.

    Wole Talabi

    Wole Talabi

  • “An Arc of Electric Skin” — A thought-provoking story with a not-so-easy ending.
  • “Saturday’s Song” — My favorite in the collection (I wrote “great story!” at the end). A strong dose of folklore mixed in with question of forgiveness, vengeance, grief and the pain often engendered by family. A difficult, powerful tale.
  • “Ganger” — One of the few that felt its length (actually felt overlong) and felt overly familiar. The story isn’t bad, just not unusual or surprising in any way save for the folktale woven in and out, which was more interesting to me in its own right, Its connection to the sci-fi story was too on the nose for me, but I did like the conveyed idea that the old stories serve just as well as the new ones to make points about current and/or future society.
  • “Ember” — Another difficult story, one with a character whose horrible actions doesn’t make him any less tragic for the reader.
  • “A Dream of Electric Mothers” — Another nice mix of myth, culture, and technology, probably my second or third favorite in the collection. Here, the political leaders of a country consult their ”collective digital memory . . . the memrionic copies of our citizens . . . an entity made up of the minds of citizens past that could process billions of input parameters . . and give advice on matters of national interest. An encoded and accessible electric voice of the ancestors.” What could have been merely political or technological is enhanced by Talabi’s deep dive into the personal.
Published in February 2024. The sixteen stories of Convergence Problems, which include work published for the first time in this collection, rare stories, and recently acclaimed work, showcase Talabi at his creative best: playful and profound, exciting and experimental, always interesting.


  • Bill Capossere

    BILL CAPOSSERE, who's been with us since June 2007, lives in Rochester NY, where he is an English adjunct by day and a writer by night. His essays and stories have appeared in Colorado Review, Rosebud, Alaska Quarterly, and other literary journals, along with a few anthologies, and been recognized in the "Notable Essays" section of Best American Essays. His children's work has appeared in several magazines, while his plays have been given stage readings at GEVA Theatre and Bristol Valley Playhouse. When he's not writing, reading, reviewing, or teaching, he can usually be found with his wife and son on the frisbee golf course or the ultimate frisbee field.

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