Review: Binti by Nnedi Okorafor
Tor.com started publishing novellas last year and Binti by Nnedi Okorafor is the second I’ve read. It’s an amazing story about a smart young woman caught between 2 warring parties, one human and one alien. Separated from her family and then her new friends, both her talents and her outsider status amongst space-faring humanity place her in a position to broker peace. This is great science fiction with aliens and organic spaceships and ancient technology and more.
There’s a line that gets at the heart of what makes this novella particularly awesome.
Thankfully, they knew not to touch my hair again. I don’t like war either.
Binti, the main character, is different. She’s African – specifically Himba, with elaborate braids in her hair and covered head to toe in a paste made from a combination of oils and red clay. I love that the cover by Dave Palumbo captures these elements as they are more than just ways to describe the character and make her unique. Her hair, the red paste covering her, and the meditative trance she uses to absorb the oral tradition her father recites to her all become integral to the deeply science fictional plot.
I absolutely loved this story. The issues of culture and identity. The issues of Academia. A war based on a lack of communication. I also just finished reading Future Visions and many of the stories involved machine translation. I highly recommend you read Binti. It definitely moved Lagoon to the top of my reading pile.