I’d like to briefly discuss my thoughts on the short “Skin Dragons Talk” by Ernest Hogan in the collection “Mothership: Tales from Afrofuturism and Beyond.”
This story is set on the Moon, where much of society has emigrated to. Our story follows Goro, a very unintelligent member of the Yakuza, who seems to keep messing up, as shown by his lack of ten full fingers. What makes him special, however, is that the “skin dragons” (his tattoos) on his body are alive and can speak to him, and are able to control him and help him make modifications and improvements to his body. This makes him both very dangerous and intriguing to the crime world on the Moon. I’ll leave the rest for you to read so I don’t spoil it for you.
The world is an interesting one wherein humanity (or at least factions of it) has left the Earth for the Moon. While that seems like it would make some drastic changes on how society functions, centuries-old organizations such as the Yakuza still persist. I enjoyed the mixing and integration of various cultures, seeing how our main character’s heritage is Peruvian, yet he grew up in Japan. This world seems to have quite the mix of languages, such as Japanese, English, and Spanish intermingled together.
The biggest thing of interest in this short is the “skin dragons” that talk to Goro and comment on the frailty and unimpressive state of humanity, especially in the case of below-average intelligent Goro. Why is it that when writing about other races and civilizations, many writers make them look down upon humans? I have no problem with it, but it seems interesting that anything out there in the unknown usually tends to be superior, at least intellectually, than we as a race. Also, the slightly ambiguous, yet sinister, ending (that’s not too spoiler-y, is it?) really explores certain aspects of human-alien interactions.