RogerBW's Blog

Binti: The Night Masquerade, Nnedi Okorafor 26 June 2019

2018 Hugo-nominated science fiction novella in the Binti series. Binti is back on Earth with Strange Things in (and on) her head.

I suspect this would make more sense if I'd read the two prior stories. As it is I'm pitched into a situation that even for me, as an SF reader used to putting things together from contextual clues, seems quite sparsely explained. One word turns out to mean a group of aliens, and the humans who like them, and their distinctive technology; an "astrolabe" is apparently something like a smartphone, only it can be made by villagers with no visible technology; "treeing" seems to be some kind of meditation…

Apart from that, there's also no time spent on making Binti sympathetic: as we open, she has a bunch of different alien supertech that nobody else has, but she makes no effort to do anything with it, just complains about the hallucinations that she's getting because she doesn't want to learn how to use it. By the end, with even more alien supertech (not to mention qrngu naq erfheerpgvba), everything has fallen into her lap simply because she's endured feeling bad a lot.

This was nominated as a stand-alone, and as a stand-alone it doesn't work. If the four books of The Murderbot Diaries were published together as a novel, it would be much better than Artificial Condition on its own, and it's quite possible that the same would apply here.

(This work was nominated for the 2019 Hugo Awards.)

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