Exploring Nnedi Okorafor’s Africanfuturist Universe

In 2010, Nnedi Okorafo’s Who Fears Death was released and introduced readers to a future Sudan. Who Fears Death follows Onyesonwu as she goes on a journey of discovery, loss, and renewal. She was more than powerful; she was thoughtful, flawed, strong, and remarkable. Five years later, we returned to the themes brought up in Who Fears Death through its prequel, The Book of Phoenix, about a new character, Phoenix, who like Onyesonwu, has been born into a brutal world with powers beyond her understanding. On Okorafor’s blog in 2015 she said, “Who is Phoenix to Onyesonwu and Onyesonwu to Phoenix? You’ll have to read them to find out. Don’t bother going in with expectations; you’ll probably be wrong.”

Reading more than one of Okorafor’s books cues readers into the fact that they are reading something larger than what they see on the page. There’s more being said, referenced, and examined across all of her texts, which is why The Book of Phoenix, though a prequel, felt more like another piece in a puzzle. Following the release of those two books and several others, Okorafor released the Binti series in 2015, 2017, and 2018 all charting the experiences and history of yet another woman. This time she wasn’t being forced into her circumstances; instead, Binti seizes her future before someone else has a chance to crush it. Now, four years later, Okorafor’s recent release Remote Control bridges our current world with her universe.

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Five Speculative Visions of Britain in Chaos

To live in Britain is to live in eternal existential anxiety. The tiny island nation lives on the knife-edge of global warming-driven sea level rise (which would submerge much of what is now dry land) and global cooling, which, while not on the books in the immediate future, has in the past repeatedly scoured hominin life from the region. It’s not surprising that many authors have offered visions of an ephemeral United Kingdom that is no longer united…

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A Horse by Any Other Name: Anne McCaffrey’s Dragons

I’ve talked before about how Anne McCaffrey modeled her famous dragons on horses, and specifically the Lipizzan horses of the Spanish Riding School of Vienna. What I hadn’t done at that time was sit down and do a reread of a bunch of dragon books.

Recently I got the urge. There happened to be an eBook sale, one of those short-term grab ’em with the first volume deals, and I was looking for some high-quality work avoidance. Bonus chance to find out if I remembered the horseness of dragons correctly? Bring it on. [Dragons vs. Horses…]

Star Trek: Voyager Rewatch: Sixth Season Overview

Star Trek: Voyager Sixth Season
Original air dates: September 1999 – May 2000
Executive Producers: Rick Berman, Brannon Braga

Captain’s log. By the sixth season, Voyager had settled into its role as the spiritual successor to The Next Generation. While the general backstory of trying to get back to Earth was always there, the actual day-to-day adventures that they had were mostly unrelated to that, instead focusing on two catch-phrases that have been associated with Trek for ages: “to seek out new life and new civilizations” and “the human adventure is just beginning.”

[It was a fire hazard…]

Series: Star Trek: Voyager Rewatch

Do Hippos Count as Dragons: An Examination of Identity and Taxonomy

Someone recently asked me a fun question: Do hippos count as dragons?

When I was a kid, I mean a real little kid, I had this toy, it was a long white board with five white pegs sticking up off it, and there were shapes with holes in the middle of them—stars, triangles, squares, circles, and hearts—and each shape came in five colors—red green yellow blue purple—and I would sit there for hours sorting them onto the pegs. All the same colors together, or all the same shapes together, or all different colors and shapes in a very particular order. I treated the game like a puzzle I was intended to solve, only of course, there was no way to solve it. One of my earliest memories is of the realization that this was not a thing that would reveal an answer to me, and that was the last day I played with it.

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Fairy Tale Magic in Elizabeth Lim’s Six Crimson Cranes

I’ve always loved fairy tales. Like many people my age, I grew up on the Disney fluff and stayed on the fairy tale train for the darker, Into the Woods style takes. Then, I fell into anime and started learning about fairy tales, folk tales, and mythologies from other cultures. Fairy tale retellings and reimaginings are nothing new in the young adult world, but that doesn’t stop me from getting my hands on every single one that I can. Sometimes, they’re fairly predictable but still fun to read. Other times, they completely blow you away.

I loved Elizabeth Lim’s Blood of Stars duology, and Six Crimson Cranes immediately rocketed up to the top of my most anticipated reads list. I am so thrilled to say that it exceeded all hype and expectations.

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Were We Wrong All Along? Interspecies Relations in CJ Cherryh’s Foreigner Series

Bren is back from space, but he has to go to the human enclave of Mospheira to deliver a copy of the kyo treaty to President Tyers and make the arrangements for the first Reunioner families to land on the planet. For the first time, he goes to Mospheira as an atevi lord and diplomat, and that means his bodyguards and a few staff go with him. The majority of these four books (Convergence, Emergence, Resurgence, Divergence) is about atevi politics, but the first two show how Bren’s bodyguard reacts to Mospheira and how the structure of the atevi studies department at the university is, in fact, a hindrance to human-atevi relations. [Read more]

Why? Seriously, WHY? An Investigation Into A Quiet Place Parts I & II

For various reasons, I’ve missed a lot of pop culture over the last few years. I’m behind on… everything really. Even after months of lockdown, with all my careful quarantining and marathons of TV and deep dives into directors’ entire oeuvres, I have giant holes in my current knowledge. Which is why I spent a few hours this weekend watching the first two films in the saga known as: A Quiet Place.

And my question is a dramatically screamwhispered: WHYYYY? WHY ARE THESE MOVIES?

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Five Classic SFF Novels About Environmental Disaster

As astonishing as this may now sound, industrial development far outran environmental regulation until surprisingly recently. However, by the early 1970s various issues—water pollution, air pollution, resource depletion, the alarming discovery that the main difference between polyester clothing and napalm is the absence of a spark—became so obvious that visionaries like Richard M. Nixon (later noted for innovations in hospitality services such as those offered by the Watergate Hotel) created agencies whose task it was to enforce environmental preservation laws. Presumably this was the end of the matter. Indeed, so confident am I that it was so that I will not even glance out the window to see if these efforts succeeded. No need to even smell the air.

Nevertheless, while nattering nabobs of negativism might have muttered about mass extinctions, anti-terraforming, and the potential self-extermination of the human species, one cannot deny that rising alarm about the changing environment inspired some classic SFF novels.

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