Archive for the ‘Nnedi Okorafor’ Category
Is it just me, or did 2015 fly by in like two weeks? How did that even happen? It certainly was a crazy year – I started a new job, we moved into a bigger apartment, i learned a whole new definition of the work “workaholic”, I didn’t read nearly as much as I wanted.
Anyway, here is my annual “Best of the year” list, presented in no particular order, with links if you’d like to read my reviews.
The Traitor Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson, easily my favorite novel of 2015.
The Bone Swans of Amandale – by C.S.E Cooney, in her short story collection Bone Swans
The Fifth Season, by N. K. Jemisin
Binti, by Nnedo Okorafor
Flex, by Ferrett Steinmetz
The Apex Book of World SF Vol 4 edited by Mahvesh Murad
Soft Apocalypse by Will McIntosh
Babel-17 by Samuel Delany
The Life of the World to Come, by Kage Baker
Honorable mentions for the year go to:
City of Blades by Robert Jackson Bennett. I read it in 2015, but can’t actually talk about how freaking amazing it was until 2016. So I guess it’ll have to make my best of 2016 list.
and this stuff, which is omg, what I always wished ginger ale would taste like. Also? it’s alcoholic.
2015 was a crazy year, and I don’t mind that it’s over. I’ll see everyone on January 1st for Vintage Science Fiction month!
published Sept 2015
where I got it: purchased new
In a way, Binti is a completely traditional scifi/hero’s journey story – young woman gets an opportunity to leave home, does so, finds herself in a situation far beyond her control, and ends up single handedly stopping an interstellar war. A perfect dove-tailing of tribal and futuristic, of sentient space ships and ancient cultural traditions, Binti was a beautiful story to read. For some of you, this will just be a story that you read and forget about two days later. For others of you, it will be a door that opens and never closes. File me under “others of you”.
Binti is from Earth, from a traditional family in a traditional village. Her people are curious, but they don’t travel. Her family is famously innovative, but inward looking. Her acceptance to a prestigious university is as thrilling to her as it is horrifying to her family. She leaves in the middle of the night. Just by leaving she has shamed her family, so she might as well go all the way and get on the damn shuttle.
She wasn’t surprised to learn she was the only Himba on the shuttle, nor is she surprised to be the only Himba student at the university. However it was a shocked, shameful silence that blanketed her when strangers poked and prodded her protective hairstyle – can I touch it, does it smell, why do you put mud in your hair, that’s so weird, don’t let the mud touch anything on the ship. What they are telling her is that she is different from them, and that she should be ashamed of her difference. That to be accepted, she needs to assimilate, and look and act like them. That when she reaches civilization, she’ll understand. Yes, all that in a facial expression and a few words spoken at her, not to her. People are just this crass in real life, too.
Welcome to the third and final part of my review of Long Hidden: Speculative Fiction from the Margins of History, edited by Rose Fox and Daniel José Older. With over two dozen pieces of fiction, I would have been cheating everyone if I tried to talk about all of my favorite stories in just one post. If you like what you read here, check out part one, and part two.
To unpack the subtitle of the anthology just a little bit, what are “the margins of history”? Among other things, it’s the edges, the background, the stories that haven’t been told, the viewpoints that were pushed aside. We’ve all heard the phrase “history is written by the winners”, and those “winners” often only tell their side of the story, their interpretation. The margins are what the writers of the history books left out, most often women and minorities. the writers of the history books may call themselves the winners, but look at what they’ve lost! By pushing people and cultures and religions and stories into the margins, we get such a narrow view of the world. And isn’t this exactly what speculative fiction is supposed to be about? Widening our horizons, seeing everything that’s out there?
While you are chewing on that I’ll give you some thoughts on some of my favorite stories that were in the final third of the anthology:
(Knotting Grass, Holding Ring), by Ken Liu – Easily one of my favorites in the collection, as I am a huge Ken Liu fan. in the mid 1600s, in Yangzhou China, two women are on the way to their client. Half porter, half assistant, Sparrow’s job includes carrying instruments and parcels, and making sure the client pays up. Green Siskin on the other hand, is the beautiful entertainer, carried through the city on a palanquin, as walking with bound feet is very difficult. Green Siskin offers the military men she has been hired to entertain a Tanci story, one of a prince who decided to save his father’s favorite concubine. Sparrow burns with jealousy, but even she’s got to admin that Green Siskin knows a thing or two about how to flatter men, how to get them to do exactly what she wants. The men flatter her back, but they see her as a lowly whore. The Manchus are on the march, and soon the city is under siege. With the subtle elgance of a tanci song, Green Siskin quietly saves all the women she is able. She knows what she’s capable of, she knows how to get men to do what she wants. As always, Liu’s prose is as gorgeous as blossoms falling from a tree on a perfect day. Green Siskin knows exactly what people think when they look at her. She knows the women in the prison courtyard want her to feel ashamed of herself, to be disgusted by what she does. She never complains, never brags, never asks for pity, never even asks to be seen as anything more than a whore with bound feet. She just saves as many people as she can from death and violence.
published April 2014
Where I got it: purchased new
Robots are supposed to help us, right? they’re supposed to do the jobs that humans don’t want to or can’t do, right? and thanks to Asimov’s three (four!) laws, there’s nothing to worry about.
wrong. Leave it to folks like Alan Dean Foster, Seanan McGuire, Charles Yu, Cory Doctorow, Ernest Cline, Nnedi Oforakor and others to remind me that robots do exactly what we program them to do, and in many cases this is fucking terrifying.
I just about every story in this anthology, we played God. We created something, typically in our own image, that would be able to do things we couldn’t. Our creations raise and teach our children, solve our computer programming issues, clean up radiation, do jobs that are too dangerous for humans to do, protect company assets, keep us healthy, etc. When we’re so sure our inventions will help us towards a better world, what could possibly go wrong?
But lets say we succeed. the computer programming issue has been solved, the kids are grown up, the asset has been protected, diseases have been cured, the radiation has been cleaned up. What do we do when our problem is fixed and our shiny tools are no longer needed? Robots are designs to work. they are not designed to stop.