Binti, a woman of earth and stars

Binti and Binti: Home, by  Nnedi Okorafor
The above incredible image was sourced from DestinAsian 

I really want to write you a review of the novellas Binti, and Binti: Home, it’s a long time since I read such real science fiction. But I find I’m not sure where to begin. Instead of finding words or images to share with you, a story line to attract you, instead my brain is still and I can feel earth, coarse damp earth, rough wet clay on my skin. I want to smear it, rub it onto myself. This is unusual for me, I am a woman of water. But the scent of living soil is in my nostrils, minerals seeping into my blood. Enervating. I feel grounded. Real. Growing, alive, but still and stopped. I want to go outside and bury my hands in the soil, feel its pulsing life. To stand on rock and earth. I don’t want to appropriate her culture, to claim for myself otjize, the culture of the Himba women of Namibia. I just want to inhale that grounded life. Maybe I want to reach out and touch that warm supple skin. To taste transcendence in immanent earth. That is the gift of Binti.

Binti is a young woman of colour, the first of her people to be accepted into university on a far planet. She leaves alone in the early morning. By leaving she is exiled. She is the sole survivor of a massacre. She is a harmoniser, a woman who weaves mathematical patterns of meaning and peace. She is powerful. Transcendent and deliberately immanent. Woman.

I don’t think Binti asked me any profound questions, other than why she should be the first woman of colour to have a science fiction series of her own. I love that this is a book written by a woman, about a woman. A book about a woman who dared to defy social strictures that would have held her at home, told her who to be, how to be a good woman. Instead she journeyed away, redefined the meaning of being a good woman. Took the earth from which she came and healed others. Created earth with the power of womanhood and healing and home, although the distances of space ached between. Returned to find change for all life is change. To find something new of herself and her people and her universe. To find echoes of time.

Not since my earliest readings of Ursula Le Guin’s Rocannon’s World some thirty years ago have I felt so connected to a science fiction culture, a science fiction character. And I love science fiction. So that is the highest praise I can offer. Neither Binti or Binti: Home are long, they leave you aching for more. And to be honest, I don’t think I liked the end of Binti: Home. But I desire, long for the next instalment Binti: The Night Masquerade. I’m holding a deep hope that Okorafor doesn’t fly Binti away into unreality, when she has been so grounded, so real to date. And so sniffing earth, tasting ground, smelling stardust with our toes, we wait.

 

 

The Anti-hero you need

I need to tell you quickly (because I should be writing) about a book I read yesterday – total inspiration, made me walk taller: The Blue Place by Nicola Griffith. Look I have nothing in common with the hero, Aud, other than we are women living in a world that can be really hard. I mean she’s tall, Norwegian, an ex-cop, rich, a master of martial arts. She has woodworking skills and an incredible girlfriend. She has killed, I haven’t! But like all of us she’s damaged, she’s loyal, she takes no shit or prisoners. And while I was reading that book I walked proud, believed in myself, felt less overwhelmed by life: that positive feeling has lasted into today.

blueYes Aud steps outside the law, she does things that make her anti-hero not heroine, but to me that just makes her more real. There are quite a few reviews that rave about JJ, you  know that new Marvel series they think is empowering and feminist (umm not in my world) and how she’s the new anti-hero that women need to aspire to be. Well Aud would be a much better tv series female anti-hero than JJ! That show annoys me – as if women get superpowers to stand up against violence! We don’t get external superpower mojo when we are oppressed, when men manipulate and control and emotionally abuse. We have to find courage in our ordinary humanity, if we can we find other women, and then we get up and keep going. Hoping for superpowers or flopping hopelessly waiting for a superpower saviour won’t save abused women. I also feel like its a show that profits from rape culture & intimate partner abuse of women. End of sermon!!

Sadly the Aud series publishers are, well odd, so in Aus only books 1 and 3 are available electronically, which means that I’ll have to wait for book 2 to arrive in paperback from distant shores. And that well known web-publisher named for incredible women, well the product description for these books is “xx” hmmm, not very helpful! Luckily my electronic goggling skills found more details and I risked “purchase now”.

While I’m waiting for the delivery person you’d thing I should get back to my writing, but luckily Nicola Griffith has also written some interesting looking sci fi and historical fiction so procrasti-reading can continue. Have a look at the Blue Place, it really is worthwhile.

 

Sartre and Sacher torte

Every so often I will share my thoughts on the Parallel Truths I find in movies, song lyrics and books that I read.  Today’s is a confluence of existential mystical magical angst and love laden thoughts.  You see, at the same time that I was reading Jean Paul Sartre’s Concrete Relations with Others I read Laini Taylor’s e-novella Night of Cake and Puppets.  An inspired combination. Like chili and dark chocolate.

So I read the dark, convoluted Sartre straight after enveloping my senses in an e-novella about a shy tiny girl luring a violinist to dare to love her. Enticing him on a journey to experience her by following a bespoke treasure map and magic puppets, a journey to love and Mozart and sacher torte in Prague, in the dark, in the snow: pure seduction, pure for-itself anxiety desperate to know how the for-other was seen by the Other and whether she/he could find freedom in being known, being seen and being loved.  Oh the agony of fear, the angst when all is inverted and the observed twists the trap and lures his puppetess with music and desire.

A Night of Cake and Puppets had a happier ending than Concrete Relations with Others, but it is fiction.  Delectable fiction, black chocolate, dripping fiction.  Back to Sartre. Continue reading “Sartre and Sacher torte”