Binti: The Beauty of Culture Amidst Change

The Binti series has become one of those phenomena that has swept the world, taking us to a beautiful future alongside our eponymous protagonist. To celebrate the release of the full trilogy in February, I’ll be reviewing all of the novellas and the new short story included in the collection. It’s a great time to pick them back up and enjoy the world again!

Binti is a beautiful piece of cultural poetry, examining the roots humanity has in our heritage and how those experiences help us grow into the people we will one day become. Binti, a young woman from Namib, becomes a sensation overnight thanks to her quick thinking amidst a terrible attack. The novel is a love story to her culture, harkening back to her people’s rituals and their deep knowledge of mathematics and life lines. It’s a story that deserves to be read multiple times, to be seen as a masterwork of world-building and character creation. 

NOTE: I was provided a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest, unbiased review.

A Few of My Favorite Things

Binti displays a beautiful, completely unique set of cultures rich with traditions and specialized knowledge. Binti’s culture is an essential part of her life, from the otjizse made from her homeland’s clay to the intricate pattern of her hair to the specialized knowledge of astrolabs and the associated complex mathematics. We also get an in-depth analysis of the Meduse language which is the cornerstone of their culture. It’s an intense body-to-body form of communication that both fascinates and boggles the mind.

Binti is an expert in mathematics, as is her father. She’s brilliant, the first of her people to get a full ride to the pre-eminent university in the universe. I had a strong admiration for the focus on mathematics and how beautiful it can be as a science and an art form. We see her going to a mathematical mindset, traveling through numbers and equations to get to her calm place. It’s an inspiration, and a testament to the power math can have on young minds.

This is one of the places Binti shines. First, we have astrolabs, a complicated mechanism that holds the entire life of a person within its sphere. It’s powered by mathematics and can be analyzed to fully understand a person and where they’ve come from. Second, we have the living ship Binti travels on. It’s an enormous organism with an intense system of air filtration built into its body that allows people to travel within it. It’s hard to imagine, but intensely brilliant. Third, we have the edan, a mysterious object that allows Binti to communicate with the Meduse. Its source of power is unknown, as are its origins, making it all the more intriguing.

Binti: The Complete Trilogy

By Nnedi Okorafor
DAW
Release Date: February 5

If you want to get started now on Binti and can’t wait for the complete trilogy:

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Author: Jacob Olson

Writing about science fiction and fantasy at ReviewsandRobots.com! I write reviews on novels, short stories, television, movies, etc. and throw in a few articles and thoughts as well.