Her name is Binti, and she is the first of the Himba people ever to be offered a place at Oomza University, the finest institution of higher learning in the galaxy. But to accept the offer will mean giving up her place in her family to travel between the stars among strangers who do not share her ways or respect her customs.
Knowledge comes at a cost, one that Binti is willing to pay, but her journey will not be easy. The world she seeks to enter has long warred with the Meduse, an alien race that has become the stuff of nightmares. Oomza University has wronged the Meduse, and Binti’s stellar travel will bring her within their deadly reach.
If Binti hopes to survive the legacy of a war not of her making, she will need both the gifts of her people and the wisdom enshrined within the University, itself – but first she has to make it there, alive.
This is one of those stories that had all the pieces in place for me to love it wholeheartedly, but it just wasn’t long enough.
It’s a classic fish out of water sci-fi story, featuring a smart girl from an isolated culture who gets into a university for geniuses. She leaves without the approval of her family, and on the way to the school, their space ship gets hijacked by an alien race long known for their violence. It has all the markers for being a fantastic tale, but I think the short novella format does it a disservice.
There simply isn’t enough time for the story to quite as in depth as it needed to make all the elements work together.
I usually love sci-fi tales that simply dive into the universe, giving us a feel for the world created by trusting the audience is smart enough to get it. Unfortunately I was mostly confused, and not in a good way here. What was the ancient doodad she had? What was the weird math she studies? Why were they at war with the aliens? Why didn’t I realize that there weren’t just humans going to this school until the last fifth of the novella? (That last part might be my own fault, I don’t know.)
Ultimately I wanted so much more out of this than it provided. It needed more time for world building, and it could be a fantastic universe if expanded. I’ll pick up the second novella to check it out and see if it grows the way I hope it will, since there’s so much potential here. Fingers crossed.