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Midnight Robber Paperback – March 1, 2000

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Editorial Reviews Review

Nalo Hopkinson's first novel, Brown Girl in the Ring, was selected from almost 1,000 entries to win Warner Aspect's First Novel Contest, and after publication it received the Locus Award for Best First Novel and was a finalist for the Philip K. Dick Award. So expectations have been pretty high for her second book, and Midnight Robber lives up to them; it's a beautifully written, innovative, demanding, and wonderful novel.

On the Caribbean-colonized planet of Toussaint, Carnival is a Lollapalooza of music and dance, a Mardi Gras, a masquerade; and the Robin Hood of Toussaint legend, the Robber Queen, is just another costume, Tan-Tan's favorite. Then Tan-Tan's corrupt politician father commits a crime that sends them into exile on the extradimensional planet New Half-Way Tree, Toussaint's untamed quantum twin. As she struggles to survive the violent criminals, mysterious aliens, and merciless jungles of New Half-Way Tree, Tan-Tan finds herself taking on--or being taken over by--the mythic persona and powers of the Robber Queen. --Cynthia Ward

From Publishers Weekly

The sounds and rhythms of the Caribbean and Carnival suffuse Hopkinson's second novel (after Brown Girl in the Ring). On the Carib-colonized planet of Toussaint, Antonio Habib, the scheming, philandering mayor of Cockpit County, murders his wife's lover in a rigged duel and must then flee his high-tech planet, taking with him only his young daughter, Tan-Tan. The pair end up on New Half-Way Tree, Toussaint's alternate-universe twin, a primitive and dangerous world inhabited primarily by Toussaint's exiled criminal class and the douen, an alien race reminiscent of creatures from Caribbean folklore. There, Antonio's life lacks purpose, and although he remarries, he gradually degenerates into an angry, sexually predatory drunk. Growing to adulthood, Tan-Tan is deeply scarred by her father's assaults on her. Eventually she kills him in self-defense and, pregnant with his child, flees into the forbidding bush that surrounds their small settlement. Tan-Tan is kept on the run by Antonio's jealous widow, seeking vengeance for her husband's death. Hiding among the trees, Tan-Tan learns the secrets of the douen and gradually transforms into another figure out of Caribbean folklore, the Midnight Robber, who dresses in black, spouts poetry, steals from the rich and gives to the poor. Hopkinson's rich and complex Carib English can be hard to follow at times, but it is nonetheless quite beautiful; her young protagonist, at once violent and vulnerable, is extremely well drawn. Both Toussaint, a world almost awash in nanotechnology, and the more primitive New Half-Way Tree are believable, lushly detailed worlds. Like its predecessor, this novel bears evidence that Hopkinson owns one of the more important and original voices in SF. Agent, Don Maas. (Feb.) FYI: Brown Girl in the Ring won a Locus Award for Best First SF Novel.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing (March 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446675601
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446675604
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #79,588 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I'm a novelist, editor, short story writer. I also teach, and I freelance sometimes as an arts consultant. Most of my books have been published by Warner Books, now known as Grand Central Books. If you like knowing about awards and such, my work has received the Warner Aspect First Novel award, the Sunburst Award for Canadian literature of the fantastic, the World Fantasy Award, the Gaylactic Spectrum Award, and Honourable Mention in Cuba's Casa de las Americas Prize for literature.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Shanshad VINE VOICE on July 11, 2002
Format: Paperback
With a voice and a world-building style startlingly different from the usual SF or Fantasy author, Ms. Hopkinson transports readers into an altogether different sort of future. The story is of Tan-Tan, a young girl growing up on the Caribbean-colonized planet called Touissant. There she lives in relative wealth and comfort, until her father flees the authorities, and the two become exiles in the strange, and unforgiving world of New Half-Way Tree. It is in this realm of strange creatures, and hard-bitten men and women that Tan-Tan must come of age, and discover her own story. The struggle is a long and arduous one, and persevering against all the odds will cost Tan-Tan a great deal more than she imagines. It is this struggle and her growth into adulthood that allow her to take possession of the Robber Queen myth for herself.
There is so much here that is impressive. Ms. Hopkinson's skill with world building is a treat. So much of the standard fantasy and SF scenarios and metaphors are cleared from the field, and a wealth of mythology, story telling and culture from the African and Caribbean worlds are set in place. The result is a departure from what this genre usually has to offer, a deft weaving of myth and technology a grittier and oft-times harsher world-view. The narrator's poetic voice and author's skilled use of language serve to cement the landscape and confirm that the reader has departed from the tried and true paths, into the wilds of another culture, another realm, where anything might happen. The Caribbean flavor of the language is spicy and powerful-strong and primal. These are storyteller words, delicious to read aloud and savor. And Ms. Hopkinson is able to paint her story with this language without making the read ponderous or awkward. Ms.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Suzette Haden Elgin on March 19, 2000
Format: Paperback
I've just finished this book, and I enjoyed it tremendously, even the heartbreaking parts. Even the parts that pose major moral questions for which nobody has any answers. It's a great read, like all books by this author. It's also unusual because although it's written in a dialect (a Creole dialect) the language never gets in the way of the story or distracts the reader. On the contrary; the dialect is an advantage rather than a drawback. I recommend _Midnight Robber_ without reservation.
Suzette Haden Elgin
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Richard R. Horton on May 18, 2001
Format: Paperback
_Midnight Robber_, nominated for both the Hugo and Nebula awards, is a pretty darn good book. It's told in a Caribbean-flavoured English "patwa", which quickly reads entirely naturally, and adds a musical dimension to the prose that enhances the book greatly. The story itself begins slowly, and I think I would have severely cut (or restricted to flashbacks) the opening segments, set on the main character's home planet. But the bulk of the novel is excellent, with a convincing and involving main character, and a neat setting on an alien planet with cool aliens, and a solid plot involving the main character dealing with severe family issues and coming of age.
The story is about a girl from the planet Toussaint, called Tan-Tan. Toussaint is a highly technological planet: most of the work is done by machines, and everybody (except a few resisters) has an implant which connects them to a planet-wide AI. The AI monitors everybody as well as linking them to news and such -- thus crime would seem to be difficult, and when crime does happen, the criminals are treated harshly, exiled to a primitive planet called New Half Way Tree. Tan-Tan is the daughter of the Mayor of her town, Antonio. Antonio is a serial adulterer himself, but when he catches his wife in flagrante, he flies into a rage. Eventually his actions lead to exile to New Half Way Tree -- and more or less by accident, he takes Tan-Tan with him. This whole first section is a bit slow, and not well enough integrated with the rest of the novel. Antonio doesn't seem well-portrayed -- and Tan-Tan's mother Ione is both an unpleasant and unnecessary character.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Ned D. Okra IV on March 13, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Patois speaking frilled lizard creatures, succulent fruits, deadly plants, a problematic father and a main character with fire in her soul. This book was hard to put down as soon as I cracked it open. The blend of Caribbean folklore and the sci-fi genre was very cool and unique. It also teaches you some patois as you read. If you want to be taken somewhere realistically fantastic, check out this book!
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14 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on March 18, 2000
Format: Paperback
On the planet Toussaint, womanizing Cockpit county Mayor Antonio catches his wife sleeping with Quashee. Irate, Antonio moves out of their home, but for the next five months does nothing about being cuckolded. He has only a few hours left to challenge Quashee to a duel of honor in the fight yard before the legal limit for such a matter ends. The rules do not allow for loss of life, but Antonio kills his opponent anyway.

Under arrest for murder, Antonio, accompanied by his daughter Tan-Tan flees their technically advanced planet through a dimension shifter to land on its primitive "twin," New Half Way Tree. On their new home planet, the dinosaur-like Douen that are mythological creatures on Toussaint thrive. As the years pass Antonio drifts into a world of alcohol and sexually abuses his daughter, who ultimately kills him in self-defense. As she flees from her stepmother's ire, Tan-Tan begins to understand her new tree mates the Douen and soon becomes the MIDNIGHT ROBBER, a legend on her former home planet.

The MIDNIGHT ROBBER is an excellent science fiction tale because author Nalo Hopkinson makes both of her worlds seem vividly real. Toussaint appears to be a technologically advanced Caribbean planet while New Half Way Tree seems very primal. Antonio is a strange, but fully developed character while Tan-Tan will steal the hearts of the audience. As with BROWN GIRL IN THE RING, the award winning Ms. Hopkinson proves she has a unique and wonderful perspective that provides a fresh voice in the science fiction arena.

Harriet Klausner
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