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Dick finalist. The publication of the novel itself was an award, a winning entry out of 1, submitted for the Warner Aspect First Novel Contest.

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I don't want to detract in any way from these accolades or the author's abilities, but Hopkinson stands out in large part because of her ethnicity in a field largely dominated by a white middle-class readership and authorship. Which is odd, if you think about it. Shouldn't minorities be attracted to a genre that deals in themes of alienation a reason why fantasy is thought to be particularly intriguing to adolescents, particularly those with homosexual tendencies?

Hopkinson herself, -- born in Jamaica, raised in Guyana and Trinidad before moving to Canada at the age of 16 -- has said that her use of Afro-American themes and idioms in speculative fiction stems from an attempt at: " I guess my ethnocentrism is showing. Sure, I recognize the Midnight Robber as a trickster figure and the tradition that goes with it, and you don't need to be an expert in African lore to understand some of the obvious references though a few do require explanation ; but it's not my culture.

Even while recognizing that one reason to read is to discover other cultural viewpoints, I felt removed from the book in way that I wouldn't to the cultural referents in the works of, say, Elizabeth Hand or William Gibson. But, hey, that's the whole point of reading isn't it, to discover new worlds in a larger sense than made-up planets or mythologies.

Midnight Robber - Wikipedia

I'd recommend Midnight Robber as a much more sophisticated work than her debut novel contradicting usual notions of sophomore jinx and even if I wouldn't necessarily put either book on an essential reading list, I look forward to following this author's career. It sort of reminds me when I was kid and being told to read authors that I didn't really get at the time, like Phil Dick or Roger Zelazny, but being excited about the sense that there was something really cool going on that I shouldn't miss.


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She had asked her mother the rules of the fight over and over till Ione got fed up and refused to repeat them any more. Tan-Tan knew the rules in her own head by now.

As she opened her eyes she started to recite them like a mantra. Daddy would be all right. She say to clean your teeth and take a shower, then put on your best frock, the white one with the sailor collar". Tan-Tan got out of bed. She went outside through the bedroom doors that led to the back verandah. The morning was looking dreary, oui. Papa Sun was hiding his face behind one big mako cloud.

Rainflies flitted everywhere, dancing on their wings in anticipation of a wetting.


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Tan-Tan went to her bathroom, washed herself and brushed her teeth. She reached into her closet for the white dress with the blue-piped collar, but her hand touched her Robber Queen outfit instead. She put it on.

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It covered up some of her scared feelings. Nursie bustled into the room, carrying combs, ribbons and fragrant coconut oil for Tan-Tan's hair. It confused Tan-Tan. She hadn't had any message from her mother. Nursie sighed with exasperation. These blue ones not going to match. Nursie oiled and parted Tan-Tan's hair, wove it into plaits, then rubbed some of the coconut oil into her elbows and knees so they wouldn't be ashy. Tan-Tan's mother was sitting at the table, staring off into the distance.

Nursie narrowed her eyes. It was a second before Ione replied. Panicking, she murders him with the birthday gift she got from her stepmother: a hunting knife. But in her village, the penalty for murder is execution, so she runs away into the bush to avoid capture, eventually learning how to survive in the wild and becoming the Robber Queen, a Robin-Hood-like do-gooder who punishes the wicked for their transgressions.

The incest? The rape? These were experiences far outside of my sheltered suburban life, and I found them too troubling to engage with. It felt appropriate.