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Interview: Why Nnedi Okorafor Keeps Coming Back to Coming-of-Age Stories

'In my stories in general, I've always played with this idea of the written word and the oral storytelling...'
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  • Remote Control
  • 'In my stories in general, I've always played with this idea of the written word and the oral storytelling...'

Publisher's Summary

An alien artifact turns a young girl into Death's adopted daughter in Remote Control, a thrilling sci-fi tale of community and female empowerment from Nebula and Hugo Award-winner Nnedi Okorafor

Winner of the AudioFile Earphones Award

"Narrator Adjoa Andoh captivates listeners with a stunning new sci-fi novella set in a near-future Ghana. Andoh is perfectly in tune with Okorafor's compelling story, smoothly switching between her British accent as the narrator and the intonations of the vibrant characters she brings to life." (AudioFile magazine)

“She’s the adopted daughter of the Angel of Death. Beware of her. Mind her. Death guards her like one of its own.”

The day Fatima forgot her name, Death paid a visit. From hereon in she would be known as Sankofa ­­- a name that meant nothing to anyone but her, the only tie to her family and her past.

Her touch is death, and with a glance a town can fall. And she walks - alone, except for her fox companion - searching for the object that came from the sky and gave itself to her when the meteors fell and when she was yet unchanged; searching for answers.

But is there a greater purpose for Sankofa, now that Death is her constant companion?
A Macmillan Audio production from Tor.com

©2021 Nnedi Okorafor (P)2021 Macmillan Audio

Editor's Pick

A new hero for a new year
Nnedi Okorafor has a knack for writing extraordinary, young, female protagonists who ground us in the fantastical worlds she unfurls: from Binti to Akata Witch’s Sunny. But Remote Control may just be my favorite story from Okorafor yet, with its young hero, Sankofa—a girl who, at the age of six, discovers a strange and terrifying power within her that changes her life forever. It’s a stunning take on feminism, technology, and what defines identity. (There’s also a nod to the “2020 pandemic,” which gave me an odd amount of hope. If we can make it through and someone like Sankofa is on the other side, we’ll be okay.) Narrator Adjoa Andoh (who can currently be seen in the wildly popular Bridgerton!) is brilliant as always, lending authenticity and vivid personality to Sankofa through all stages of her life. —Sam D., Audible Editor

What listeners say about Remote Control

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Afrofuturist Sci/Fantasy Fairytale

This was a great, engrossing Sci/Fantasy novella with a likable protagonist and very Neil Gaiman-esque fairytale vibe.

THE GOOD

Despite being a short story, there is a surprising amount of story told, as well as great character development. I feel like I knew Sankofa’s character very well. We experience her coping with grief, a terrible power over death, and the superstition surrounding her powers. The most striking thing was her ability to take everything in stride. I wish I were half so resilient myself.

Mervyn Peake?? I listened to the audiobook, and I couldn’t help a squeal of delight when I first heard the name she gives her companion, the fox. I had to hear it several times to be sure, but it sure sounds like she named her fox Mervyn Peake? What a wonderful and unexpected reference to the Gromenghast series, which I just read last year. A lovely nod to an important writer in the Fantasy genre, and totally unexpected. Now it makes me want a pet fox name Mervyn Peake, LOL.

World Building: I loved the very Afrofuturist vibe of the world, somewhere between Fantasy and SciFi. The world building was slow and subtle, but vivid. A nice change of pace from typical European-centric Fantasy settings.

Narrator: the narrator was great, though oddly her American accents were not quite right. They had a slight African lilt to them, but this is just a nitpick. Great overall.

THE NOT-SO-GOOD

Abrupt Ending: About the time I was really getting into the story it ends abruptly. And the ending is kind of vague, leaving you scratching your head over what just happened.

THE VERDICT

A lovely novella that wold have garnered a five star rating from me were it not for the unsatisfying ending. Hopefully this is due to more stories to come –maybe a trilogy, like Binti? More please!

12 people found this helpful

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Amazing is not a strong enough description

This book was everything I didn’t know I wanted in a book. Beautifully written and the narrator did such a wonderful job!! I was a thousand percent satisfied with this book and will be searching for more pieces by this author. ♥️♥️

3 people found this helpful

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Perfect!

I loved the story! I loved the narrator! It was a fantastic book. Nnedi Okorafor's work shines, like all her work. Get lost in her worlds you will not regret it.

2 people found this helpful

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  • J
  • 02-06-21

Engaging story

This well written tale pulls you into the journey of the main character. The narrator gives an excellent performance. If 6 stars were available, I would give them. A must read on any list.

1 person found this helpful

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Another hit from Okorafor!

I love Nnedi Okorafor. I discovered her with “Binti” and this one is just as fresh and engrossing. It’s quite unlike anything I’ve read before and just draws you into her world. She has an masterful narrative voice and a writing style that miraculously makes you really feel part of the life of a young African girl from a small village who comes across strange alien powers.

What really makes this story shine is the narration. Adjoa Andoh’s performance is masterful, lending voice and emotion to the character in a way that is music to the ears. I would put her in my top ten narrators I’ve heard. I highly recommend this short tale as well as all of Nnedi Okorafor’s work!

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amazing story

this was wonderful. the narration really helped me with the pronouciations of unfamiliar words. the story was beautiful and strange, it broke my heart several times and filled me with hope at others.

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And the point was...?

This is the first book I have read by this author, and I have very mixed feelings about it.

The reader is the absolute BEST I've heard. Her ability to do an array of voices, for both sexes, is astounding. Also impressive is the many accents, and the range of emotions.

The story, however, was a mystery to me. I kept wondering where it was going, and the ending was obviously meant to get the reader to buy the next book. But the story didn't seem to have a plot, it just kept wandering on (like the main character), and at the end I couldn't see any point to it. I do not plan to continue the journey.

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Short, Sweet and deadly

Loved the story and the narrator really brought you into this world. you follow a young girl with an incredible ability and see how she over comes it.

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Afrofuturism/Africanfuturism at its best❣️

Afrofuturism, a term coined in the 1990s by Mark Dery in his article “Black to the Future,” describes music, literature, and art that contains elements of science fiction, fantasy, magical realism, historical fiction, Afrocentricity, and non-Western cosmologies.
The description above aptly describes the scenarios in this book. A small 8 year old girl known in the book as Sankofa begins an journey through futuristic Ghana ( another dimension if you ask me) after tragedy strikes her small town and after she finds a stone that changes her into the Angel of Death. When bad negotiations take that stone from her she is lost to a normal childhood and people learn to fear her. She is accompanied by a fox, I am not sure what the symbolism is but her companion stays with her throughout the book and the trials and tribulations she encountered; even a robo drone. I wonder is this is a take on a Ghanaian fantasy tale. I loved the Binti trilogy so I am okay with this being speculative fiction more in line with fantasy over the science part of science fiction.

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Okorafor and Andoh do it again

I love everything I've read by Nnedi Okorafor and everything I've listened to by Adjoa Andoh. Both are brilliant at their crafts. Hooked till the end.