Kirinyaga by Mike Resnick

(Fable of Utopia #1)

What if humans could back to a simpler time? Could we do it? And, would you go back? This is a book about one tribe in the future, the Kikuyu tribe, who try and ultimately fail. Set in the future, Kenya is a bustling metropolis with has all the problems you would expect, pollution, overcrowding. They have hover cars and other future technologies. Just as humans today have moved from hunter-gathering, to farmers, and now, consumers, it is so in future Kenya. Many of the traditional “African” animals such as lions, and elephants are extinct. Koriba, a witch doctor of the Kikuyu tribe, tries to go back “in time”. He gets a planetoid where he and other Kikuya tribe members can try and revive their traditional way of life without all the modern “European” technologies that the Kikuyu weren’t meant to have.

They settle on their Utopian planetoid and name it Kirinyaga. Their idea of utopia is challenged from within and from other events outside of the colony. As you would guess, it isn’t easy to satisfy everyone with this utopia and knowledge yearns to be free. If we think about our world, could we really go back to a time without computers? without cars? without electricity?

The book is an interesting look at the attempt to go back in time, in a sense. I knew from the start that it could never work out, but it was still a fantastic, philosophical book about the valiant attempt of one man, Koriba, trying to create his little utopia.

The book itself has a cool backstory. The prologue and 8 chapters of the book were original written as short stories. A lot of them were nominated for science fiction awards and one or two of them even won. The author made more short stories about this world and fit them together as a novel.

Now, I do find it a bit strange that a white author from Chicago, USA has written a book about an African tribe. He made many trips to Kenya, so I guess he has a connection to that place. He did use the Kikuyu tribe well as a general metaphor of what happens when places are colonized. He is very interested in myths and fables, as am I. He really drew me into the world of the Kikuyu. Now that I know it’s a real tribe, I wonder how many of the fables in the story are real, or made up?

Rating: ★★★★★

Book #4 in my My 2022 Reading Challenge

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