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Reading journal: Pashazade by Jon Courtenay Grimwood

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Genre: Science Fiction (alternate history/crime) Published: 2001 Series: Arabesk Trilogy Date read: March 2018 An extraordinary story, wonderfully written. Ashraf al-Mansur, known to his friends as ZeeZee, travels to the free city of El Iskandryia, part of the Ottoman Empire in this alternate future where power lies in the hands of Berlin, Istanbul and Moscow. He’s lived most of his life in institutions, boarding schools, hospitals and prisons, with a brief career working for Chinese triads in Seattle. So it’s a surprise to be broken out of prison and given a passport and ticket for Africa, where an aunt he didn’t know he had has brokered a marriage for him. The story weaves together crimes, culture clashes, and a cast of fascinating characters. The other books in the trilogy are Effendi , a brilliant and terrifying story about child soldiers and artificial intelligence, and Felaheen , in which Raf explores his biological heritage. Grimwood (who also writes under

Reading journal: Binti, The Night Masquerade, by Nnedi Okorafor

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Genre: Science fiction Published: 2018 Series: Binti Read: February 2018 Binti is a young woman with a foot in many worlds. In the first book in the series, Binti , she leaves her home world to travel through space to university, and becomes the only survivor of a deadly attack on the space vessel. In Home , she returns for a coming of age ceremony, bringing an alien friend with her, and discovers unexpected secrets about her family background. In The Night Masquerade Binti tries to prevent a war and to reconcile her cultural threads and new experiences into her adult persona. In the end she chooses her own path. I love these novellas. They blend a science fiction plot with African folklore and Binti’s coming of age story to create a wonderful whole. Binti’s commitment to her Himba culture, symbolised by her application of otjize to protect her skin, persists even as she is changed for ever by her extraordinary encounters with aliens and her personal growth into