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Binti by Nnedi Okorafor
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FF6666: orphan going offroad towards home

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Binti: 01/28/19


Binti by Nnedi Okorafor won the Hugo for best novella in 2016. It's primarily set on a spaceship as Binti, the only Himba to be offered a spot at Oomza University.

The Himba as Binti describes them through her inner monolog are a people tied to the Earth. They show it through otjize paste made from local ochre colored mud they coat their hair in the in part. But Binti has a head for numbers and a desire to expand her horizons.

I expected this story to be about Binti being singled out for her otherness on the journey to university. I expected her to struggle to find her place at school. I did not expect the second act slaughtering of everyone on the ship but Binti and the pilot.

Binti survives because she's different. She survives because she is protected by tradition. She survives because she can think and communicate in complex math. She survives because she is a unique combination of aspects.

In terms of the road narrative project, Binti is an FFFF00: orphan utopia interstate. Binti is an orphan first because she is the first of her kind to travel to this university. She is also an orphan because she is a survivor. The university is a utopia in both senses of the word: a no-place (being made up and not reachable by conventional means) and a better place (a place where Binti can learn everything she wants to learn). Finally, this particular spaceship serves as a railway train in that it is on a fixed course that cannot be altered even with the massacre happening on board. Even if Binti were to have died, she still would have arrived at Oozma.

The second book is Home (2017).

Four stars

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