THE DABARE SNAKE LAUNCHER By Joelle Presby, Review - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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Alexander Wallace finds new meaning to 'out of Africa'.
We in the West have a nagging tendency to view the Global South as being without a future. The future is shiny, neat, and populated by Americans, Europeans, Chinese, and Japanese, with the odd South Korean thrown in if they want to be cosmopolitan. But those who study Africa know that it is a continent brimming with things Westerners find odd; the continent, having adopted smartphones not long after electrification, meaning that many regions have skipped the phase of telecommunications involving large networks of wires and poles entirely! Here, we shall be discussing one book that dares to show Africa as a full-fledged participant in the future: The Dabare Snake Launcher by Joelle Presby, to be released from Baen Books in November 2022.

The concept is simple: a group of entities has decided, in the face of rhyme, reason, and common wisdom, to build a space elevator on Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, the first in the world. It is that simple idea that leads to the entirety of the book’s plot; in this regard, it is not unlike older science fiction focusing intensely on the ramifications of a single great endeavor. One can see the fingerprints of Heinlein all over this book, but planted in a country where nobody in his generation had dared to dream about. One could also see this book as something of a more optimistic version of Neal Stephenson’s novella Atmosphaera Incognita, which likewise revolves around the construction of a space elevator.

But this amazing endeavor does not come without scheming and plotting. You have both Africans and Westerners involved in this scheme, and there is plenty of corporate skullduggery that makes up the bulk of the plot. In this regard, it reminds me strongly of many other megaprojects of the past, for it feels like a miracle that these people were willing and able to cooperate as much as they did. Her characters, both African and otherwise, are all strong-willed people with conviction and ambition, but those ambitions always clash, as the brilliant are wont to do.

The Dabare Snake Launcher is a very believable depiction of when this species decides to do something amazing: backstabbing, plotting, and inflamed passions galore. Presby has created a future that I could easily imagine reading on the news in a few decades, and the novel is all the better for it.

Alexander Wallace is an alternate historian, reader, and writer who moderates the Alternate History Online group on Facebook and the Alternate Timelines Forum on Proboards. He writes regularly for the Sea Lion Press blog and for NeverWas magazine, and also appears regularly on the Alternate History Show with Ben Kearns. He is a member of several alternate history fora under the name 'SpanishSpy.'

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