DAW. Nov. 2021. 224p. ISBN 9780756416096. $27. SF
Okorafor’s (Remote Control) latest is an Africanfuturist novel (a mode she describes as “specifically...rooted in African culture, history, mythology and point-of-view” that doesn’t center the West), set in a near-future Nigeria. Protagonist AO knows that she is only partially human in society’s view: she was born disabled, then was injured a car accident, after which she augmented her body with biotech modifications that enhance her existence. When a shopping trip in a Nigerian market leads to her near death—then the deaths of others at her hands—AO flees to the desert, where she meets a lone Fulani herdsman with his own survival story. The two are forced to go on the run, seen as murderers by strangers and friends alike. Their survival depends on reaching the Red Eye, a place that few try to enter, with good reason. Okorafor’s novel takes on technology, streaming media manipulation, and the reach of governments and corporations. The timely themes will inspire readers to ask the same hard questions of themselves that the main characters do: who has ultimate control over individuals if we rely so much on what others create and provide for us?
VERDICT Okorafor packs swift action and harsh emotions into this slim novella, showing her strengths once again as a speculative fiction writer.
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