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Shaka II by Mike Resnick

1/01/2010. Contributed by Kelly Jensen

Buy Shaka II in the USA - or Buy Shaka II in the UK

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pub: PS Publishing, 98 page hardback. Price 12.00 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-848630-59-8.

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'Shaka II' follows the story of Robert ole Buthelezi and his meteoric rise from record clerk to President of South Africa, from self-proclaimed Kingship of an expanded South African nation to Tchaka of seven planets. Then he sets his sights on Earth's colonies. Mirroring the story of the original Shaka (Tchaka), this tale takes place in the 25th century when weapons at hand are far more sophisticated and Earth is at war with interstellar species.

In the end it's not the germ warfare which kills as many of his own people as those of the enemy. It's not the genocide of another humanoid species fighting for their home. It's not the complete destruction of not one but two complete planets that is Tchaka's final undoing. It's the death of his beloved pet, Nandi, named for the original Shaka's mother. The following year, declared an official period of mourning, unleashes a madness previously directed outward at expanding and consolidating his empire. He turns against his own people and, finally, they have had enough.

Exactly the right length for a novella, the story of Shaka, retold as 'Shaka II' by Mike Resnick is a compelling read from the first page. I read the entire thing in one sitting, finally coming up for air at the end feeling completely satisfied if not a little horrified by the contents of the previous 98 pages. One of the best reasons for speculative fiction is the what if and Resnick has outdone himself here.

Kelly Jensen

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