The Book Of Phoenix

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Rated dvd & blu-ray -

Ashes To Ashes

Re­lease Date: 7 May

232 pages | Hard­back/ ebook Au­thor: Nnedi Okorafor Pub­lisher: Hod­der & Stoughton

For her fol­low- up to

last year’s La­goon, Nnedi Okorafor has gone back to the past, with a pre­quel to her World Fan­tasy Award- win­ning Who Fears Death. To put it sim­ply, The Book Of Phoenix is the build- up to the apoca­lypse that Who Fears Death is post.

Like the pre­vi­ous nov­els, it puts Africa and Africans front and cen­tre of its imag­ined fu­ture, with a par­tic­u­lar fo­cus on the re­la­tion­ship be­tween Africans and the United States. Phoenix is an “ac­cel­er­ated or­gan­ism”, born and raised – in a way that gives her four decades of phys­i­cal and men­tal devel­op­ment in two years – in one of a net­work of US lab­o­ra­to­ries de­voted to pro­duc­ing ge­net­i­cally and cy­ber­net­i­cally mod­i­fied be­ings.

Okorafor draws on com­mu­ni­ca­tion tra­di­tions old and new – first- per­son oral sto­ry­telling, the in­stant global reach of so­cial me­dia – and pro­vides a strong sense of place in lo­ca­tions stretch­ing across two con­ti­nents. Since most of the peo­ple used to cre­ate the hy­brid crea­tures are African and AfricanAmer­i­can, she also uses her SF fu­ture to ex­plore par­al­lels be­tween the en­slave­ment of Africans in the past, and mod­ern in­sti­tu­tional racism and ex­ploita­tion. Phoenix – who has wings and can set things on fire just by touch­ing them – is an ar­rest­ing char­ac­ter: thought­ful, rash, car­ing and in­creas­ingly ( jus­ti­fi­ably) an­gry. A short, sharp novel, which packs a lot of the­matic and ac­tion- se­quence punch. Nic Clarke One in­spi­ra­tion: African- Amer­i­can woman Hen­ri­etta Lacks, who died in 1951 but whose cells are still used for re­search.

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