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Review: Binti by Nnedi Okorafor

Review: Binti by Nnedi Okorafor published on

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The best short fiction says much in few words. There is no room for tangents, for building a world with incautious words, for long descriptions of breakfast or the meticulous description of a length of hallway (unless that hallway stands for or means something significant, of course). Dr. Okorafor knows her craft and writes short fiction as short fiction rather than as abbreviated novels.

For some people, this novella will act as a window. For others, it is a mirror. Binti depicts the experience of a person who has lived her entire life designated as “other” by most of the people in both her home country and the universe at large. Her people do not even exist in other places; her people are largely invisible.

Binti Ekeopara Zuzu Dambu Kaipka of Namib, the title character, has grown up on our planet. She is the first of her people, the Himba, accepted to Oomza University, though this is not without its challenges. The Himba are an insular people who are obsessed with technology and innovation. They do not leave the tribe.

“We prefer to explore the universe by traveling inward, as opposed to outward.”

Binti herself is a master harmonizer, which is sort of like a magician of mathematics. Most of the humans who space-fare are Khoush, a different people than the Himba. There are some fundamentalist aspects to the Khoush, though I am uncertain from which specific religion they may have originated. This is certainly far in our future. Binti’s people are dark skinned, black haired, and wear otjize, a sort of orange-red clay with healing properties, over their bodies and through their thick hair. The Himba live in a place with little water, and this clay is used as a cleaner, but it also is a cultural symbol, a signifier, a comfort to those who wear it. Binti recalls a time when she and a group of other young women escape into the night to enact something taboo:

“But above all this, outside of the horror of what we’d done, we all felt an awesome glorious…shock. Our hair hung in thick clumps, black in the moonlight. Our skin glistened, dark brown. Glistened. And there had been a breeze that night and it felt amazing on our exposed skin. I thought of this as I applied the otjize to my new growth, covering up the dark brown color of my hair. What if I washed it all off now?”

The story is simple, as befits a short work, and I cannot tell much of it without giving it away. Binti leaves for school, boarding a giant shrimp-like ship that will fly her from our solar system to another. A terrible tragedy occurs on board. She is forced to survive, alone. She must evaluate who she is and what is important, and what she can sacrifice in order to remain alive. The plot? It exists, but I cannot go there. The story is too short to give away many nooks of story.

Though the story is simple, there are many things that need to be unpacked in this novella, things that exist outside of story. The book asks a lot of questions, but the reader is responsible for answering most of them. Do we need to transform ourselves in order to be accepted? Do we always recognize when this change occurs, or is it unperceived? Do we need to let go of that which protects us, that which makes us feel safe, in order to be trusted by others in turn? Can we still retain our culture, our self-identity when we have become something else? Do we ever truly become something else? Do we forgive trespasses against us, or do we respond in like fashion? Do we sometimes avoid speaking with those who are different from us, those who are “other,” because we recognize that speaking will lead to understanding, understanding to empathy, empathy to loving action and acceptance? What does it mean to “belong?”

This is one of the first publications from Tor.com Publishing. Purchase from Amazon HERE.

Cover Reveal: Maiden of Secrets by Paul Neslusan

Cover Reveal: Maiden of Secrets by Paul Neslusan published on

Today is the cover reveal for Maiden of Secrets (World of Almir #2) by Paul Neslusan. This cover reveal is organized by Lola’s Blog Tours.

Maiden of Secrets
Maiden of Secrets (World of Almir #2)
By Paul Neslusan
Genre: Dark Fantasy
Age category: Adult
Release Date: October 1

Blurb:
Raised deep underground in the city of Solypse, Caelin dreams of life in the world above. Her dreams are crushed when she is coerced into service, plunging her into a world of spies, smugglers, assassins, and corrupt politicians.

As Solypse negotiates a treaty with the city of Phira, a beloved war hero stumbles into secrets that could drive the political order of the depths into chaos. In the aftermath, they will have no choice but to try to save a mysterious nation from its own dark necessity, and in doing so, save themselves.

You can find Maiden of Secrets on Goodreads

paulAbout the Author:
Paul Neslusan devours books whole (figuratively speaking), and has since he was a child. When he finally decided to put pen to paper, he set a goal of writing something that was understandable to a fifteen year old, engaging to a twenty five year old, and still compelling to a thirty five year old. Basically, he wanted to write the kind of books that he would want to read, and would have wanted to read when he was younger, and wants to read now. He lives in Central Massachusetts with his extremely patient wife and three children.

The Depths was his first work of fiction, released in December of 2014. His next book in the world of Almir, Maiden of Secrets, will be released in early fall of 2015.

You can find and contact Paul here:
Website
Twitter
Goodreads
Amazon
Newsletter


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Giveaway: The Aeronaut’s Windlass (signed!) by Jim Butcher

Giveaway: The Aeronaut’s Windlass (signed!) by Jim Butcher published on 41 Comments on Giveaway: The Aeronaut’s Windlass (signed!) by Jim Butcher

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We’re picking up two signed copies of The Cinder Spires: The Aeronaut’s Windlass by Jim Butcher at a book signing in early October! We will give these two copies away to the lucky entrants who win the Rafflecopter giveaway.

We will be making our random selections through Rafflecopter’s site on or before 10/1, and contact the winners via email at that point. If we do not hear from the selected winners by 10/4, we will select random entrants to replace those we could not reach. So check your e-mail!

We hope to get the items sent out by 10/6 at the latest. One copy per winner, one winner per household. We will check to make sure that you have completed the actions required for the entries.

This giveaway is continental USA only, as the cost of shipping internationally is prohibitive and this is a no-profit site. Honestly, we’re sorry we can’t ship it elsewhere.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Aeronaut’s Windlass Giveaway!

Aeronaut’s Windlass Giveaway! published on 4 Comments on Aeronaut’s Windlass Giveaway!

Aeronaut’s Windlass by Jim Butcher will be out so soon we can almost taste it! Galleywampus will be attending one of the signings, which means… we want to get a couple of signed copies for our followers! If you want in on the action, please subscribe to our blog and/or follow us on Twitter. There will be two separate giveaways, so you have double the chances!

Keep in mind that the book won’t be out until the 29th, and the signing we will attend isn’t until October 2nd. But patience is a virtue when it comes to signed copies of Butcher books!

More Upcoming Reviews!

More Upcoming Reviews! published on

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