Some people have the gift of writing, some don’t. A simple fact like seeing jellyfish (something that has happened to us this summer for sure) was the inspiration for Nnedi Okorafor to write this gorgeous science fiction story, part of Tor.com’s new novella line.
There are many themes in this novella and all of them are very different: the clash between tradition and modernity, the fear before something strange or incomprehensible when our only way to answer is fighting back, the oppression of dominated people and subyugation of their culture… This is a story related to the culturally diverse ones told in We See a Different Frontier, a not very well-known collection that deserves more repercussion.
The main protagonist of this story is simply fascinating. Binti belongs to the Himba, a tribe very attached to its origins. So attached that when she receives the opportunity of studying in prestigious out-of-Earth University, her parents tell her not to go. To leave her village means to leave her family, become an outcast. It doesn’t matter that she wants to put to good use her awesome mathematical capacities, if she leaves she will be marked forever. But nevertheless, the novella begins with her flight, leaving behind everything that she knows going into the unknown.
This cruel decision will trigger a series of events que Okorafor will show us in a right way. Dialogues are scarce, Binti’s thoughts are far more important, as we see her facing extreme situations with courage and logic, with the wisdom of her ancestors.
Binti manages to combine a real-Earth ancient culture with a space inhabited by diverse aliens without dissonances, it does sound all very plausible.
It is surprising to tell such a complete story in so few pages. Tor has made a wise move with its publication.
(a copy of this book was obtained from Tor.com in exchange for an honest review)