Friday, February 3, 2017

Binti: Home, by Nnedi Okorafor

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(Fantasy Science; Binti) After a year at college offworld, Binti comes back to Africa for a visit. Her relatives aren’t pleased with how she’s changed nor with the violent alien friend she brings with her. (33,523 words; Time: 1h:51m)

Rating: ★★☆☆☆ Not Recommended

This story depends heavily on the reader already having read the previous story. See related articles on Tor.com.

"," by (edited by Lee Harris), published on by .

Mini-Review (click to view--possible spoilers)

Pro: At it’s heart, this is a story about how you can’t go home again. In the beginning, Binti is unhappy at the university and misses her home. Also, although she’s supposed to be a harmonizer, she’s been prone to angry moods every since she got her tentacles. Plus it’s time girls her age went on their pilgrimage.

So she goes home, but her family disapprove of the changes in her, and they fight bitterly. Then the mysterious Desert People come, and, to her surprise, she’s related to them. She goes off with them instead of doing a normal pilgrimage. They teach her what she’s really meant to be--just as they get word of troubles back at home.

Con: And then it just ends, so it’s not a complete story.

Too many things in this story destroy suspension of disbelief. Here are a few:
  • Okwu and his teacher openly threaten each other’s lives. Okwu is alien, so maybe it's understandable, but the teacher is human—and yet the teacher gives Okwu a high grade for its project.
  • Although the people on Earth have made arrangements for Binti and Okwu to exit last to avoid conflict, the security guards immediately fire on Okwu anyway.
  • The spaceship that brings Binti home is pregnant.
  • Okwu comes from a world with no water, yet they worship water. Why? We come from a world with no liquid ammonia, but no one worships it.
  • Binti’s hair turned into tentacles because she got stung once.
  • A family of ten children is not remarkable.
  • The story treats mathematics as a form of mysticism that flows in “currents.” 
  • We meet a  character who was “born with mathematics sight.”
  • The family at the dinner are so over-the-top negative that it breaks disbelief. They were so friendly and polite before the meal but then suddenly turn crudely negative without warning.
Anyone without context from the previous novella is going to be very, very confused for at least the first half of this story.

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Nnedi Okorafor Info: Interviews, Websites, ISFDB, FreeSFOnline

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