The best science fiction explores the human condition from an outlier position. Speculative and fantastical species and races turn the magnifying glass onto Earth and the sorry state to which we have often descended. Issues of slavery, castes, xenophobia and genocide become topics removed from the immediacy of history which taints the discussion.
This futuristic novella finds Earth one among infinite worlds populated by infinite species. Academically, the best of the best is the university on Oomza Uni, far away from Earth’s solar system. No more than 5% of the students at Oomza are human. And those students are all from the Earth-dominant Khoush culture.
Binti’s acceptance at Oomza comes as a shock on many levels. She’s not Khoush, but part of the small but surviving African Himba culture. No Himba has ever gone to Oomza–indeed, none have left Earth. They prefer not to leave their ancestral desert home. Her family rejects her university acceptance for her. So she runs away . . .
Despite her “tribal” upbringing, Binti is a technological and mathematical genius. She also possesses the near magical ability to harness and align energies. When her student-full transport to Oomza is commandeered by the Khoush’s enemy, the Meduse, almost everyone but Binti is immediately killed without a fight. The space-jellyfish-like Meduse don’t understand that not all humans are like the Khoush . . .
This tale appears in The Year’s Best Fantasy & Science Fiction Novellas: 2016 edited by Paula Guran, which I received directly from Prime Books. I’ve previously read this author’s “Hello, Moto” and “Tumaki”.
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