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.
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