Hugo Award Nominee for Best Novella (2016)
Nebula Award for Best Novella (2016)
Locus Award Nominee for Best Novella (2016)
As she leaves her small world behind forever, Binti is the first of the Himba desert people to be offered a spot at the galactic Oozma University. Although she’s desperate to explore the wider world, Binti holds on to her familial customs, which set her far apart from the strangers that surround her. But just when Binti begins the first step to making friends, the alien species Meduse attacks her transport vessel in retribution for an old wrong.
Binti is a herione that straddles two worlds, who will eventually need both the wisdom and gifts of her people, and the knowledge and learning of the University stay alive and make a peaceable agreement with the Meduse. Her ability to perform complex mathematical calculations in her head transcends to a higher skill of visualizing waves of harmony and the ability to use astrolabes. Binti also brings along a pot of the clay her people wear on their skin and hair and a useless family hierloom, both of which emerge as too-convenient plot devices.
Traditional scifi often uses aliens and future worlds to explore the in-group versus the out-group, and deal with difference boundaries, but Binti offers the same outsider experience from our own world. The distinct cultural voice and prejudices Binti faces when she leaves her home re-imagines the coming-of-age scifi tale in a fresh way.
Recommended as a entry into scifi, especially for young girls. The protagonist and her voice elevate this otherwise simple scifi outsider story.
“No matter what choice I made, I was never going to have a normal life, really.”