I appreciate sci-fi that takes me into a fantastical place and simultaneously reminds me of the wonders of the real world.
From the beginning it was clear that this trilogy was going to do that for me. Set in a future with plenty of alien cultures and interactions, our protagonist Binti is a member of the Himba tribe from Nairobi. We meet her when she is on way to Oomza University, a university in space that welcomes intelligent life from all over the galaxy. Her initial conflict is with her family and culture that does not believe in leaving the land where they are from, but that tension carries over quickly into more life threatening conflicts.
This science fiction world is unlike anything I have read before. By having a character that is part of a real culture that the author is more than familiar with, the imagined future of the Himba people is just as fascinating as the cultures and creatures that Binti meets on her journey.
Each book of the trilogy is less than a couple hundred pages, so it is not an overwhelming read by any means. That being said, I can see some readers being frustrated with how short they are. The universe presented is so vast and yet we only get a taste of it. Upon completion though, it makes sense that we only get as much of this great big sci-fi world that is relevant to Binti’s particular story.
There are stories happening all around the one we are being told, and seeing how the author Nnendi Okrofor is on the rise, with an HBO show in the works and a book for Marvel Comics, I’m expecting that it is only a matter of time before we visit this world again. In the mean time, I’m happy to re-read Binti discover things that I missed the first time. If you have ever heard the term Afro Futurism, (which is a blend of futuristic science fiction and African culture), this trilogy is a short and sweet wonderful example of what that is.
This story will stay with me for a long time and I hope it does the same for you. It’s been a a couple months since I finished reading it and I still sometimes picture the giant space fish that carries people to different star systems. It is an original story from a promising author that we are sure to hear more from.
If you think you’ll be picking it up or have already read it, do let us know what intrigues you most.