'Remote Control' by Nnedi Okorafor, Review - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

Home Top Ad

Post Top Ad

'Remote Control' by Nnedi Okorafor, Review

Alexander Wallace searches for answers.
I have long liked the work of Nnedi Okorafor; I can credit her in particular for making me the voracious reader I am today. As luck would have it, I was assigned Binti in a college class, and inadvertently bought the whole trilogy on Kindle. I read the whole thing, and was enthralled. It was Okorafor who reawakened my appreciation for the power of literature. As such, I read any book of hers I get with great pleasure.

Such was my experience reading her newest novella Remote Control; I have a hunch this may well be on next year’s Hugo ballot. You could describe this novella as something of a parallel evolution to the superhero genre, with a particular emphasis on what it does to those with such powers thrust upon them.

The story is set in Ghana; the inciting incident is when a girl in a small rural town in that country finds a green orb that fell in a meteor shower that gives her powers that terrify those around her (and the reader, at times!). After an early cataclysm, she wanders northern Ghana in search of that which put her on this path.

In a sense, the protagonist, Sankofa, is a chosen one. In this regard, Remote Control joins big franchises like Star Wars and Avatar: the Last Airbender in interrogating what it really means to be ‘chosen,’ and why having such greatness thrust upon a person is invariably miserable. Because of what this glowing green stone gives her, Sankofa has no home, and cannot stay in one place too long lest she draw suspicion. In the near-future Ghana that she inhabits, this has yet another hurdle: she short-circuits any technology she tries to use.

This Ghana is cyberpunk in a quiet way. Among descriptions of things that we’d find to be quotidian are scattered mentions of things like flexible television screens and security robots. There is the implication that corporate greed ravages the world with its Orwellian surveillance, even more so than in our world. Most interesting is a certain machine that shows up when Sankofa enters a new town, one where she feels like she is safe.

Nnedi Okorafor coined the term ‘Africanfuturism’ to describe science fiction that focuses on African and African diaspora experiences and cultures (this is in opposition to ‘Afrofuturism,’ a term Okorafor dislikes, a term that is alleged to still center white, Western narratives). That is her goal when she writes (the fantasy counterpart of that term is ‘Africanjujuism’), and she has succeeded masterfully.

Remote Control is a novel about the future through the lens of a culture, a country, and a continent that has long been neglected in broader science fiction. Remote Control represents simultaneously a bright future and a needed correction in the genre, and I look forward with great enthusiasm for what Okorafor comes up with next.

Alexander Wallace is an alternate historian, reader, and writer who moderates the Alternate History Online group on Facebook and the Alternate Timelines Forum on Proboards. He writes regularly for the Sea Lion Press blog and for NeverWas magazine, and also appears regularly on the Alternate History Show with Ben Kearns. He is a member of several alternate history fora under the name 'SpanishSpy.'

No comments:

Post a Comment

Post Top Ad