Binti Question 6 - Aliens

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There are a lot of aliens throughout the Binti series, many taking strange shapes. The Meduse are the only ones developed to any degree, and there are several species who are Meduse-like physically and/or speak a Meduse-like language. They seem to get along well at Oozma Uni, though the war between the Meduse and the Khoush seems particularly bitter elsewhere. Did you enjoy this aspect of the stories? Were there aliens which you thought interesting and needing a fuller description? How did you feel about the Meduse? Did you find them as fascinating as Okorafor evidently did?

Comments

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    Not really. It's a bit too Star-Trekie for me. At least the aliens WERE pretty alien, and not just humans with knobs on their heads. Intellectually, though, they kind of were mostly humans with knobs on their heads.

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    I wasn't sure about this... on the plus side it's always great to read a book which delights in endless diversity of alien life, as part of a long tradition going back to EE Doc Smith at least.

    On the minus side I felt that many of these life forms were kind of ad hoc and not really rooted as a natural reflection of their home planets. Likewise their friendships and enmities seemed to be narrative ploys rather than have any background.

    I guess my feeling was that Okorafor was bursting with ideas but for unknown reasons - maybe book length or intended audience or personal disposition - didn't choose to think them through thorough or develop them to the extent they could be. Not unlike Christopher Priest, perhaps? Though the kind of storytelling is radically different :)
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    @Apocryphal said:
    Not really. It's a bit too Star-Trekie for me. At least the aliens WERE pretty alien, and not just humans with knobs on their heads. Intellectually, though, they kind of were mostly humans with knobs on their heads.

    Agreed!

    @RichardAbbott said:
    I wasn't sure about this... on the plus side it's always great to read a book which delights in endless diversity of alien life, as part of a long tradition going back to EE Doc Smith at least.
    On the minus side I felt that many of these life forms were kind of ad hoc and not really rooted as a natural reflection of their home planets. Likewise their friendships and enmities seemed to be narrative ploys rather than have any background.

    Also agreed. I think aside from the Meduse, her aliens were not interesting.

    I guess my feeling was that Okorafor was bursting with ideas but for unknown reasons - maybe book length or intended audience or personal disposition - didn't choose to think them through thorough or develop them to the extent they could be. Not unlike Christopher Priest, perhaps? Though the kind of storytelling is radically different :)

    Possibly! Not a bad analogy!

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    The aliens didn't do it for me, but at least they were not all a happy family.

    Nor did the old reaching for the middle-class dream of a United Federation of Planets university, dearly held by people who have never had to work in one, and promoted by those seeking paying customers to buy whatever they offer, which usually is debt for not much prospects. At least is said up-front that they are also war- and arms-mongers. I was disappointed that Binti's motivation (born to it, always is always a sign of not having a choice really) was just left for us to accept. Maybe it was her midochlorians.

    As a side note: I have come to see that universal translators in speculative fiction almost always indicate that the reader is juvenile, i.e. supposed to think that everything can be solved, and solving it is done by communication. Give me PKD or Lem anyday.

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    I'm sorry you had such a terrible time, Barner.

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    I think the aliens were different physically, but not that different intellectually. Especially in Oomza, all the staff seemed very similar in outlook. That may have been a consequence of them all being university academics.

    @BarnerCobblewood said:
    Nor did the old reaching for the middle-class dream of a United Federation of Planets university, dearly held by people who have never had to work in one, and promoted by those seeking paying customers to buy whatever they offer, which usually is debt for not much prospects. At least is said up-front that they are also war- and arms-mongers. I was disappointed that Binti's motivation (born to it, always is always a sign of not having a choice really) was just left for us to accept. Maybe it was her midochlorians.

    I don't think Binti was "born to it", destined to be the chosen one, prophesied to bring peace to the universe. Instead, she was someone who was in the right place at the right time. There were other victims of Medusae attacks. There were other attempts to broker peace between Khoush and and Medusae. Binti's was special because it was successful, and that was the story worth telling.

    As a side note: I have come to see that universal translators in speculative fiction almost always indicate that the reader is juvenile, i.e. supposed to think that everything can be solved, and solving it is done by communication. Give me PKD or Lem anyday.

    Or, like the sonic screwdriver, it's a plot device to avoid the irrelevant details of awkward communication and instead allows the story to focus on the detail of conflicting outlooks and desires.

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    @NeilNjae said:

    Or, like the sonic screwdriver, it's a plot device to avoid the irrelevant details of awkward communication and instead allows the story to focus on the detail of conflicting outlooks and desires.

    Bingo!

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