Binti – Nnedi Okorafor

Synopsis: Her name is Binti, and she is the first of the Himba people ever to be offered a place at Oomza University, the finest institution of higher learning in the galaxy. But to accept the offer will mean giving up her place in her family to travel between the stars among strangers who do not share her ways or respect her customs.

Knowledge comes at a cost, one that Binti is willing to pay, but her journey will not be easy. The world she seeks to enter has long warred with the Meduse, an alien race that has become the stuff of nightmares. Oomza University has wronged the Meduse, and Binti’s stellar travel will bring her within their deadly reach.

If Binti hopes to survive the legacy of a war not of her making, she will need both the the gifts of her people and the wisdom enshrined within the University, itself — but first she has to make it there, alive.

“They say that when faced with a fight you cannot win, you can never predict what you will do next. But I’d always known I’d fight until I was killed.”

First of all, how insanely gorgeous is the artwork by Greg Ruth for the new hardcover editions of this novella trilogy?! Each cover is incredibly striking & makes such an impact.

This is only my second Nnedi story, the first being her contribution to the glorious Star Wars: From a Certain Point of View collection, The Baptist. Which I fucking LOVED! It’s about a dianoga, a species of squid that averages 23 feet long. They feel most at home in the garbage. This particular one, named Omi, made it’s way down to the trash compactor of the Death Star. Well.. Nnedi Okorafor somehow managed to tell the most gorgeously rendered story about this monster. The monster in the trash compactor. It is the standout in a collection of exquisite stories! Truly.

Because of The Baptist, I had a taste of what an amazing writer Okorafor is. Binti seals the deal, completely. There is a reason that Nnedi Okorafor is as highly regarded in the book world as she is.

This is a science fiction series set within a distant future about an African woman who leaves home to study at the prestigious Oomza University on another planet. She is the first of the Himba people to be awarded such a distinction. The journey goes horribly wrong & shit hits the fan. More specifically, jellyfish-like aliens attack the ship she is travelling on.

This story is less than 100 pages long, so I won’t go into much more detail than that!

I ADORED Binti! What a fucking fantastic character! She is a vibrant, smart, proud, strong, brave young woman. The fact that she is a female techie & genius mathematician made my nerdy little heart so happy. Give us more SFF stories with interesting, diverse characters like this, please!

The worldbuilding is clever & deliciously detailed. I’m someone who enjoys writing about food, as well as reading about it. It’s such an important part of storytelling, which heightens the experience, especially when it comes to culture. Nnedi is one of those with a knack of describing food in such mouth-watering detail, whether it is a known dish to the reader or something completely imagined by the author. She proves that it’s not just fantasy writers who can portray food as innate to the story!

“I was at the table savoring a mouthful of a gelatinous milk-based dessert with slivers of coconut in it; I was gazing at Heru, who wasn’t gazing at me. I’d put my fork down and had my edan in my hands. I fiddled with it as I watched Heru talk to the boy beside him. The delicious creamy dessert was melting coolly on my tongue.”

For such a short book, Okorafor packs a lot into the story. There are many layers to this & I know more will be revealed when I continue on with the series. This is a brilliant little novella that blends tradition & science fiction, weaving the past with the future. I look forward to devouring the rest!

(Massive thanks to my rad friends over at Tor.com Publishing for sending me copies of these new editions!)

11 thoughts on “Binti – Nnedi Okorafor

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