Reverse-Gentrification of the Literary World

Akashic Books

||| |||

Catalog » Browse by Title: C » Cosmogramma



A dark and incisive collection of speculative short stories set in an alternate future of interstellar space travel, robots, mythical creatures, and the uncanny.

Buy on Bookshop
Buy on Amazon
Buy on Barnes & Noble

$25.95 $19.46

What people are saying…

“Newland’s second venture into science fictional territories is a rich, diverse collection of short stories.”
The Guardian

“A collection that pushes the edges of sci-fi and Africanfuturism. The stories in Cosmogramma deal with class, race, and power imbalance, and more than one of them ends in regime change and/or mass casualties at the hands of renegade robots and/or mutant children. Sound grim? It can be, but Newland’s cinematic storytelling and sense for justice often leave you feeling like things turned out the way they should.”
Philadelphia Inquirer, one of the Best New Books of November 2021

“Courttia Newland’s collection of fifteen short stories, Cosmogramma, reads like Black Mirror or The Twilight Zone turned into prose.”
Full Stop

“Short stories have long been the bedrock of science fiction, and this batch is full of fresh, intriguing premises around which entire novels could have been based.”
The Herald

“Newland’s latest book, Cosmogramma, ventures into speculative territory, featuring a host of stories centered around the African diaspora.”
Vol. 1 Brooklyn

Cosmogramma is chock full of formidable tales told by a formidable literary voice and complete with characters that are finely drawn with realistic ambiguity and thus exhibiting the co-existing duality of grief and pain perfectly, these tales of what might be are some of his best, if not creatively paranoid works to date.”
Exclusive Magazine

“Newland easily engages readers with complex worldbuilding, well-shaded characters, and stories as entertaining as they are meaningful. It’s no small feat to so immediately and repeatedly appeal to readers’ hearts and minds, and Newland’s mastery of short-format storytelling is sure to impress. Speculative fiction fans won’t be able to put this down.”
Publishers Weekly, starred review

“Newland’s writing is in league with a host of SF subgenres, from pulpy space opera to N.K. Jemisin–style Afrofuturism to Jeff VanderMeer–esque eco-fiction. But his chief skill is weaving those tropes into stories that are both wildly speculative and on the news . . . Wide-ranging and deeply imaginative; Newland is equally at home in council flats and deep space.”
Kirkus Reviews

“The collection’s 16 stories interweave an unsettling familiarity with the strange, tackling themes such as the technological arms race, addiction, racism, state-sanctioned violence, and xenophobia, holding up a mirror to contemporary society and forbidding the reader to look away and take comfort in escapism . . . These visions of largely grim alternate realities and bleak futures will be appreciated by those who prize speculative fiction’s ability to tell uncomfortable truths about our present.”

“Newland’s work is tender but urgent, grounded but visionary. Risks don’t frighten him. These highly imaginative, often cautionary tales seem the product of a world governed by outrage, anxiety, and unease. You won’t forget them in a hurry. Nor should you.”
—Rupert Thomson, author of Barcelona Dreaming

“The stories in Cosmogramma are shot through with a sense of foreboding, a feeling that we as a species are heading for self-annihilation if we don’t get our act together and fast. In that sense, and in several others, the stories feel unsettlingly contemporary and can—and should—be read as a last call to action. ‘The Sanofka Principle’ in particular bent my mind out of shape, in a good way. Now there’s a story that requires (and repays) close reading!”
—Stephen Thompson, author of Meet Me Under the Westway

Critical praise for A River Called Time:

A River Called Time is a masterful reimagining of the African diaspora’s influence on England, and on the world. It’s a grand tale and still an intimate portrait of loss and love. What glory and influence would Africa enjoy if colonialism had never occurred? Courttia Newland reshapes our vision of the past, present, and future by taking this one question seriously. The result is something truly special. No other way to put it, this book is true Black magic.”
—Victor LaValle, author of The Changeling

“Courttia Newland’s writing is rich with passion and humanity. He manages to convey great depth without ever losing his lightness of touch. A rare feat only reserved for the few.”
—Steve McQueen, Academy Award–winning film director

“This is an ambitiously imagined book that, by removing the European lens on African cultures, creates a new reality that allows us to question how we view our own. Complex and multilayered, this novel opens the door to the possibilities of noncolonial worlds.”
Kirkus Reviews

“Set in a dystopian London separated into haves and have nots, this mystical coming-of-age tale . . . is sure to please fans of thought-provoking speculative fiction.”
Publishers Weekly

“No one can doubt the sheer energy and verve of Newland’s vision.”
The Guardian (UK)

A River Called Time is a real gem of a book. There are so many brilliant parallels drawn between the world we live in as well as gentle prods toward the reality we could create. I had my hands on my face throughout the end of the book as shock after shock was delivered. A River Called Time is an excellent, beautiful read that will make you think while taking your breath away.”
—Dorothy Koomson, author of Tell Me Your Secret

“Gloriously enthralling. An immersive, ambitious reimagining of the city from a formidable British voice. Newland’s magnum opus.”
—Irenosen Okojie, author of Butterfly Fish

A River Called Time is an incredible read. Perfectly plotted and layered with complex ideas, a heartbreaking love triangle and an astonishing ending. It’s not just a book of speculative fiction, but a starting point to learning about a kemetic spiritual system masterfully woven into the narrative. If you’re a fan of Philip K. Dick and J.G. Ballard, you’ll love stepping into the world Courttia has created.”
—Irfan Master, author of Out of Heart

Critical praise for The Gospel According to Cane:

Nominated for the 2014 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award for Fiction!

“A mother’s love is unbreakable, as Frank O’Connor Award–nominee Newland demonstrates in his latest novel . . . The storytelling is as captivating as the story itself. Newland, a Jamaican-born British writer, seamlessly integrates the joy, fear, uncertainty, and sadness . . . Newland’s prose is beautiful. His novel—part homecoming narrative in the vein of Toni Morrison’s Beloved and part haunting tale of loss similar to Ernest Gaines’s In My Father’s House—will appeal to all lovers of literary fiction.”
Library Journal

“The emotional tension is sometimes almost unbearable as a mother and son attempt to build a relationship out of their shared pain. A unique and very moving novel.”

“The characters are finely drawn with realistic ambiguity and genuinely exhibit the durability of grief and pain.”
Publishers Weekly, selected as a 2012–2013 “Notable African American Title”

“Newland delivers an intense portrait of mental conflict against a gritty inner-city background. The book we are reading is Beverley Cottrell’s journal . . . This ‘journal of my pain,’ becomes a spiral of cathartic violence during which Newland deftly keeps the reader guessing.”
Kirkus Reviews


In his exquisite first collection of speculative fiction, Courttia Newland envisages an alternate future as lived by the African diaspora.

Kill parties roam the streets of a post-apocalyptic world; a matriarchal race of mer creatures depends on interbreeding with mortals to survive; mysterious seeds appear in cities across the world, growing into the likeness of people in their vicinity.

Through transfigured bodies and impossible encounters, Newland brings a sharp, fresh eye to age-old themes of the human capacity for greed, ambition, and self-destruction, but ultimately of our strength and resilience.

Read an excerpt from “Dark Matters,” recommended by Morowa Yejidé, at Electric Literature’s Recommended Reading.

Book Details

  • Hardcover: 300 pages
  • Published: 11/2/21
  • IBSN: 9781617759789
  • e-IBSN: 9781617759932


COURTTIA NEWLAND is the author of seven books including A River Called Time, The Gospel According to Cane, and his much-lauded debut, The Scholar. In 2016 he was awarded the Roland Rees Bursary for playwriting. As a screenwriter, he has cowritten two episodes of the Steve McQueen BBC series Small Axe. Cosmogramma is his latest book.

More info »