Binti: Home

In Nnedi Okorafor's series, a gifted young Himba girl named Binti heads to an off-Earth university for highly talented galactic citizens, against her family's wishes. En route, she chooses to become genetically altered to better broker a peace between the jellyfish-like aliens who attack the transport ship (the Meduse) and the humans aboard.

This altering gives Binti tentacles in place of hair, further making her feel like an outsider at home. While she befriends aliens on a different planet, her Himba family and friends value putting down roots and never wandering. Binti and her honorable Meduse friend, Okwu, have both done well in their studies on Oomza; still, Binti feels called to return to her family home and undergo the traditional rites of becoming a woman. Taking her friend home with her is Binti's way of harmonizing relations between humanity, her conservative family and Okwu himself.

Once on Earth, Binti's family has a hard time accepting Binti's new tentacles, not to mention her wanderlust. When Binti's paternal grandmother comes to the tiny village from the nearby desert, Binti must choose between loyalty to her matriarchal tribe and yet another unsanctioned trip away, with her grandmother's tribe, who are outcasts among the Himba.

Home, like its Hugo and Nebula-winning predecessor, Binti, gives readers a view of humanity's future from a non-Western perspective, with a young woman-of-color protagonist and a well-constructed universe full of alien and human foibles. --Rob LeFebvre, freelance writer and editor

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