New Barbadian Fantasy: “And Sometimes They Fly” by Robert Edison Sandiford
And Sometimes They Fly expands on Robert Edison Sandiford’s tradition of telling “real stories about the Caribbean,” often by way of Canada. As enchanted by the legends of the Diaspora’s folklore as Nalo Hopkinson, as curious about the nature of human courage as C.S. Lewis, his first novel is a comic-book-flavoured quest story that asks: How are heroes and villains defined in a post-9/11 world? What role is there for the global citizen when the Super Powers fail to serve and protect? Robert’s extraordinary characters leave the reader wondering about the choices they make right up to the novel’s final chapter. The book’s Barbadian leg is expected to be available in time for Anime Kon 2013 at the end of August later this year…
The disasters of 9/11 trigger a Cataclysm that is unleashed every so many cycles. It can only be averted by the selfless act of the Elect, a trio of exceptional humans who are guided by Milton, a being known as an Elder. The three, all Barbadians, are David Rayside, Marsha Durant and Franck Hurley. And it is their time: to save the world before the deadliest characters of their legends and myths – the baccou, the steel donkey, la djablès & the heart man – destroy it.
All their lives, the Elect have had their abilities: David, the power of flight; Marsha, incredible strength; and Franck, super speed. With great power may come great responsibility, yet the choice to act or not remains theirs. Milton, like his adversary, Mackie (short for Machiavelli), is an Elder who can inform, not influence, the course of events. Are the Elect mature enough to decide what’s best for humanity? The longer they take to agree to Milton’s plan, which he can’t reveal until they are all on board, the more their world is overrun with Caribbean folklore creatures.
Set in Bridgetown, and Montreal (“where much of the Diaspora live”), And Sometimes They Fly questions notions of the heroic. Where do heroes – not just a region’s but also a culture’s heroes – come from? George Woodcock once noted that, unlike Americans or the British, “Canadians do not like heroes, and so they do not have them.” Humanity is in trouble if this is also true about Barbadians.