skygiants: storybook page of a duck wearing a pendant, from Princess Tutu; text 'mukashi mukashi' (mukashi mukashi)
[personal profile] skygiants
I CANNOT WAIT to get my hands on Nnedi Okorafor's Lagoon, but I can't do that until I'm moved into Boston and can get my Boston library card, so to tide myself over I read Kabu-Kabu, her collection of short stories from last year.

Actually 'from last year' is not really correct -- while the collection was published last year, many of the stories included were written towards the very beginning of Okorafor's career. And ... you can tell! A lot of it definitely reads like very early work. The writing's much more jagged, and many of the stories feel like initial explorations rather than complete works. It's super interesting, though, because you can get a chance to see the themes that show up in the novels developing, and Okorafor's favorite secondary worlds coming together and becoming more thematically solid in various short snapshots throughout.

My favorite thread is a bunch of stories about Windseekers -- people born with the gift of flight -- which it turns out are mostly part of an unpublished novel about a Windseeker named Arro-yo. What's cool about these stories is you get mythology being established and then questioning and problematizing itself; one story introduces the concept of DESTINED REINCARNATED SOULMATES for Windseekers, and in the next you get a pair of destined soulmates who ... pretty much immediately murder each other every time they recognize each other after reincarnating, because having a soulmate ties you down, man! Gotta get rid of that before it's too late!

(Nnedi Okorafor actually wrote in her afterword that she didn't like that story anymore and if rewriting it probably would not have had them actually murder each other. TOO BAD, I LOVED IT.)

A couple of my favorite stories from the collection are actually available online - I want to call out Spider the Artist, at Lightspeed Magazine, about a woman who befriends an oil pipeline guard robot, is one of my favorites in the collection, and The Palm Tree Bandit, at Strange Horizons, about the creation of a legend. But reading them in the context of Kabu-Kabu as a whole is different from reading them alone, I think. It adds context to a lot of Okorafor's other stuff -- even though many of the stories really aren't as strong, taken by themselves.

(Fair warning #1 is that the content rating is pretty much the usual for Okorafor's adult stuff, by which I mean PRETTY HIGH: lots of spousal abuse, gendered violence, rape racism, race-based violence, and imperialism in the collection as a whole. You don't have to brace yourself as much as you do for Okorafor's Who Fears Death, because with Who Fears Death it's just CONSTANT, and Kabu-Kabu will frequently give you a breather with, like, a whimsical story about a trickster spirit. But some bracing nonetheless required.)

(Fair warning #2 is that the one thing about Okorafor's stuff is that nobody is ever anything other than cis and straight, which stands out more when you have, like, 20 chances for somebody in a story not to be, and most of the characters are not twelve..)

Date: 2014-08-27 08:49 pm (UTC)
sapote: The TARDIS sits near a tree in sunlight (Default)
From: [personal profile] sapote
Haha, man, that is the best soulmates canon I have ever heard. Grim! It's super grim! But also the best.

Date: 2014-08-27 09:07 pm (UTC)
sapote: The TARDIS sits near a tree in sunlight (Default)
From: [personal profile] sapote
ugh what if you have to move for their job
ugh what if they belong to the other political party
WHAT IF THEY LIKE BAD ART. WHAT IF THEY WANT IT OVER THE SOFA. Let's just end this thing right here. Perfect logic.
Edited Date: 2014-08-27 09:08 pm (UTC)

Date: 2014-08-27 11:56 pm (UTC)
vass: T-Rex and Utahraptor in a clinch with a heart above their heads (T-Rex/Utahraptor 4 Evar)
From: [personal profile] vass
But if they're your soulmate, doesn't that mean you're at least somewhat compatible?

Like, "Ugh, whatever, we're soulmates. Let's get drunk and fuck once a decade, and the rest of the time you can be over there on that continent with your freshman year Klimt prints and reality TV obsession, and I'll be over here on this continent with my cat that you're allergic to, my Greens Party bumper sticker, and the really stinky shrimp paste I cook with."
"Fine. Don't fuck anyone I wouldn't... wait, what am I saying? You can have all my rejects you want to, just don't block me by telling people I'm interested in that we're soulmates. Later, babe."
[they ride off into opposite hemispheres, humming Vienna Teng's 'Flyweight Love' in perfect unison]

Date: 2014-08-27 11:31 pm (UTC)
jothra: (Failboat)
From: [personal profile] jothra
I never recovered from Who Fears Death. In my heart, I am still face down on the floor, crying my eyes out.

Date: 2014-08-28 03:05 am (UTC)
jothra: (No catgirls allowed)
From: [personal profile] jothra
BUT??

EVERYONE WAS *SPOILER* AT THE END!

Date: 2014-08-28 03:24 am (UTC)
shati: [as] mad hatter. ([as] hey kids~)
From: [personal profile] shati
and in the next you get a pair of destined soulmates who ... pretty much immediately murder each other every time they recognize each other after reincarnating

angel sanctuary??

Date: 2014-08-28 03:34 am (UTC)
shati: [as] mad hatter. ([as] hey kids~)
From: [personal profile] shati
ALEXIEL AND ... Lucifer ... yes?? Not the soulmates part, but didn't they keep reincarnating and murdering each other romantically? Maybe they only murdered each other a few times.

Date: 2014-08-28 04:28 am (UTC)
shati: [as] mad hatter. ([as] hey kids~)
From: [personal profile] shati
I was trying to remember if they even met pre...that incarnation. Did Sara even have any established preincarnations? w/e she had space whales.

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skygiants: Princess Tutu, facing darkness with a green light in the distance (Default)
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