Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Riot Baby, by Tochi Onyebuchi


(Dystopia) Born during the Rodney King riots, Kev struggles his whole life against structural racism that prevents him from living up to his potential. His sister Ella, gifted with enormous psionic powers, wants to help, but fears doing more harm than good. (35,471 words; Time: 1h:58m)

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

Review: 2020.072 (A Word for Authors)

Pro: The story has two main threads: one thread follows the development of Ella’s powers and her struggle to find ways to use them that don’t hurt people. The other follows Kev’s life, showing how promising he was, showing how being a good boy didn’t protect him from systemic racism, and how all his promise ended up wasted when he went to prison.

In the process, it reminds us of the countless injustices that still affect black people even today.

Con: There’s no actual plot here. Kev is a pure victim; he’s not trying to accomplish anything, and nothing he does makes much difference. The story ends in a deus ex machina when Ella, having essentially become a god, kills all the white people in the world.

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Tochi Onyebuchi Info: Interviews, Websites, ISFDB, FreeSFOnline

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