Science fiction and fantasy


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by Nnedi Okorafor

In this science fiction novella Binti is a young woman who leaves her large family in the dead of night in order to travel off-planet. She's a member of the Himba people, and she isn't used to travel. None of them are. But at sixteen she wants to study maths at university, and it will take more than her tribe's insularity to stop her.

The Himba don't travel, so Binti is an outsider amongst the other prospective students on the spaceship. She is further distanced from them by her need to cover herself in a special kind of mud that she keeps in a jar. And then disaster strikes when they encounter the murderous Meduse. These jellyfish-like aliens are advanced, yet also as foreign as possible, and they are unable to talk to humans. The Meduse simply kill people on sight. So when they turn up, Binti has the difficult task of trying to survive when surrounded by aliens who hate her and who she can't talk to at all.

Themes of overcoming prejudice, fear, and a lack of cultural understanding are prominent in this story. It's imaginative and interesting, if a little on the brutal side, and doesn't labour any points or dawdle in its pacing.

Since the story is novella length there isn't much in the way of development for characters other than Binti herself, because there isn't enough time. However, the writing style is engaging enough that I would gladly read a sequel. This is an uplifting, hopeful story which combines inventive science fiction with excitement and a pointed metaphor for real-world issues.

18th January 2017

5 star rating

Review ©

Source: own copy

Book Details

Year of release: 2015

Categories: Books
Science fiction
Female Protagonist

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