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After the Flare: A Novel (Nigerians in Space) Paperback – September 12, 2017
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In a deceptively slim novel, Olukotun (Nigerians in Space, 2014) orchestrates a complex dystopian story about what happens when a massive solar flare damages electrical systems worldwide and leaves Nigeria with the only functioning space program on the planet.
When the solar flare envelops the Earth, it also cripples the equipment on the International Space Station, stranding one astronaut with limited supplies and setting the station up to eventually fall out of orbit and crash into Mumbai. A few months later, Kwesi Bracket, an American engineer freshly unemployed from NASA, accepts an invitation to join the rescue effort in Nigeria, one of the few places left untouched by the flare and the only country currently capable of building a functioning spaceship. Bracket directs the construction of a massive simulation pool, balancing his duties as a scientist with the need to appease the whims of the charismatic politician who supports the space program and the volatile traders from whom he acquires supplies. He soon finds himself caught in a web of converging threats: political maneuvering, terrorist attacks by Boko Haram, and mysterious powers wielded by a small group of tribal women. Olukotun manages these complex threads of story with a wily grace, weaving them into a surprising and briskly paced plot while also reveling in an abundance of inventive, vivid detail. In this version of Nigeria, a fascination with tribal identity exists alongside new technological devices that bring together animals and computer technology―geckolike phones, a malicious hacking spider―and a complicated monetary system that combines cowrie shells with block chains. It is a place where industrial development flourishes next to nomadic trading people and where both traditional gender roles and fluid explorations of gender and sexuality exist at the same time. The entire novel is spectacularly imagined, well-written, and a pleasure to read.
An absorbing novel that explores a compelling, African-centered future world.
One of The Guardian's Best Books of the Year
"Deji Bryce Olukotun’s After the Flare is pacy Nigerian-set SF in which a supermassive solar flare has knocked out the world’s electrical generation, and attempts to restart the space programme are haunted by what may be alien presences. Vividly written and smartly realised, this is only Olukotun’s second novel: he is a rising star." ―The Guardian
A Kirkus Starred Review
"The entire novel is spectacularly imagined, well-written, and a pleasure to read. An absorbing novel that explores a compelling, African-centered future world." ―Kirkus Reviews
"A follow up to Olukotun’s Nigerians in Space, After the Flare excels in extrapolating aspects of African culture and tradition into future technology (semi-sentient phones that resemble geckos and specially adapted cowrie shells serving as currency). An eloquently written and ambitious novel." ―James Lovegrove, The Financial Times
"Olukotun weaves together a broad spectrum of subjects: engineering and archaeology, culture and politics, biohacking and cybernetic animal technology, ancient tribal wisdom and magical stones. With such an original premise, the story is well-paced, with compelling characters and a subtle sense of humor." ―Booklist
"He keeps the action moving at a rapid, almost non-stop pace, skillfully dropping in bits of slightly futuristic technology...Olukotun shows a flair for both kinetic pacing and credible SF speculation." ―Gary K. Wolfe, Locus Magazine
"These are stories in which ancient history coexists with urgent contemporary concerns, where technology evolves into unexpected forms, where seemingly minor narrative digressions can pay off on an epic scale. It isn’t always easy to see where Olukotun’s novels are headed, but that’s part of their appeal―and entirely appropriate for works that are, gradually and unexpectedly, leading the reader into the future." ―Tobias Carroll, Tor.com
Praise for Deji Bryce Olukotun:
"A madcap first novel that unravels like a spy thriller."
Mark Haskell Smith, Flavorwire
"Deji Olukotun's novel Nigerians in Space is an impressive debut, a literary thriller that also deftly explores themes of the African diaspora."
David Gutowski, Largehearted Boy
"Fast-paced, well-written and packed with insight and humor. Olukotun is a very talented storyteller. "
Charles Yu, National Book Award 5-Under-35 winner and author of How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe
"A deft mingling of satirical humor, Noirish twists and a keen-eyed yet accessible take on cultural displacement in contemporary times. "
Olufemi Terry, winner of the Caine Prize for African Writing
"You can taste Cape Town, you can hear it in the dialogue, see its beauty in the descriptions. Deji Olukotun has my city's number: especially its nasty underbelly, the dangerous dealing of abalone poachers. "
Mike Nicol, author of the Revenge Trilogy
"A transnational mystery novel replete with assassins, abalone poaching and an international fashion model who exudes light from her skin."
Matt McGregor, Warscapes
"A crime thriller that is out of this world."
Samantha Lim, The Brooklyn Paper
"Nigerians in Space captures the cocksure attitude and dignified clip of the 1950s radio play, with more mischievous and macabre elements that reflect the frustration of anti-colonial and Pan-African politics."
Megan Eardley, Africa is a Country
"The book is a must read."
Dianah Ninsiima, Africa Book Club
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Another highlight: the newshounds, so addicted to a constant stream of headlines that they constangly punctuate conversations with them. Hit a a bit close to home!
Sobering to think how much of our lives and assumptions are predicated on our electrical grids, and how quickly the world could be reshaped if they failed. Give it a read.