MIDNIGHT ROBBER by Nalo Hopkinson

Nalo-Hopkinson_2000_Midnight-Robber-e1341837629858Classified as sci fi, but really, it seems more like fantasy fiction.  No, not even that.  Let’s call it speculative fiction.  Dang.  Now I have to make another new category.  Life is so much easier to pigeonhole if you just stick to crime fiction, thrillers and romance novels.  I know, right?  Like life should be that neat and tidy.  Pffft.

Let me see if I can lay out the basics for you.  It is set in some far future, on another planet to which have traveled several (generation?) ships of people from the Caribbean. We don’t know exactly why.   To have a better life?  Could be.  Anyway, manual labor is now looked down upon, and they rely on A.I.s which connect to them through nanobots or something implanted in their ears when they are babies.  They have a number of robot devices which do the work, however, there are some humans called runners who pull rickshaw type vehicles, and who prefer to live totally without the technology.

Granny Nanny is the quantum computer web that oversees everything and overhears everything ….. but in a benign way, as a way of keeping order and peace.  If someone has done something horrific, such as child abuse, or killing, they are either imprisoned or sent into exile, which is by way of  a device which sends them to Half Way Tree, a prison planet or dimension.

The Nation Worlds does ship them all to New Half-Way Tree, the mirror planet of Toussaint [the planet where Tan-Tan lives] on the next side of a dimension veil.

So is it  a planet or a dimension?  Whatever, this is where  the exiles must make a home by their own two hands and deal with the native inhabitants there, a kind of bird/lizard creature.

The protagonist is Tan-Tan, the daughter of her city’s mayor.  Although he has apparently had a number of women, when his wife cheats on him, he becomes enraged an engages in a duel with his rival, the rules of which are only until one fighter or the other cries enough.  However, he secretly poisons his sword, nicks the guy, who subsequently dies.  He is then sent to prison.  While Tan-Tan is visiting him, she gives him something a runner friend has made which allows him to escape his cell, and grabbing Tan-Tan, he runs through the prison until he comes to the room with the device for exile.  He pulls her in with him, and off they go to the new place.

The second half of the book is all about her struggles on the new planet/dimension or wherever they are, and becomes a kind of coming-of-age story, which gets darker than indicated in the first half of the book.

The entire narrative is told in a kind of Caribbean patois, or Creole, and bless me chile if I know if it is authentic or made up, but it is beautiful and rhythmic, and some reviewers absolutely hated it, but I found it gave a wonderful flavor to the whole story.

Men make things and women magic them.  Is so the world does go, ain’t, doux-doux?

It is an interesting read.  I mean, how often do you find Caribbean-based sci fi?  Not so terribly often, I’m thinking.  So, yeah, total thumbs up, 5 stars, and topped off with a hearty “You go, girl!”

 

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One comment on “MIDNIGHT ROBBER by Nalo Hopkinson

  1. Phoghat says:

    “It is an interesting read. I mean, how often do you find Caribbean-based sci fi? Not so terribly often, I’m thinking. ”
    crappity-crap-crap Another book on my “to read” list
    You make it sound so interesting

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