Binti by Nnedi Okorafor
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I enjoyed the novella's grounding in cultural differences and the twist of a strong math "Harmonizer" tech, and while I also appreciate the fundamental message of acceptance, I had a really hard time with the message's the execution here.
Don't get me wrong, the writing was good and I loved the firm opening leading to a great horror tale set in a well-imagined SF universe, complete with a reverse fish-out-of-water twist.
It's what happened afterward that I take umbrage.
I like tales of acceptance. It is a core trope of SF, for heaven's sake.
What I don't like is a completely insane turnaround in a plot firmly rooted in terrorism and attempted mass-murder of [ a whole university after the aliens killed almost everyone on Binti's spacecraft. And it was all done because the chief lost his stinger.]
Where is the consequence of these horrible actions? [Oh, we're slapping the wrists of the scientists who lopped off the chief's stinger and exiling them to some other place in this galaxy of worlds. And all that death that you aliens caused? Yeah, fine, whatever, here's the stinger and by the way, you want to go to school here?]
Sorry, this might have been pulled off better had it been a much longer format with a lot more than a hate-and-prejudice exhortation of death in place of a meet-cute. Perhaps an adventure a-la Enemy Mine where they have to learn, slowly, to tolerate each other. And THEN end with [Hi, Binti, child ambassador.]
And don't get me started on Why Mud Cures All Ails. [The aliens are high-tech. They even managed to alter Binti at the molecular level. Are you seriously telling me that they couldn't figure out that a bit of mud would save all their people's ailments and turn Binti into some honoured demigod? Read my lips: Deus Ex Machina.]
Other than these fairly huge issues, though, I thought the novella was charming and well-written and it might have been something quite glorious with a bit more meat and plot. I'm glad I read it. :)
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