Short Book Reviews: The Nigerian Space Program Saves the Day
After the Flare,
by Deji Bryce Olukotun (Unnamed Press, 2017).
Non-Western-centered science fiction has found an eager audience in
recent years, and this novel is a worthy addition. In the not-too-distant
future, a gigantic solar flare paralyzes the electrical grid across the world.
Among the many unfolding catastrophes are the marooning of a single astronaut
on the International Space Station.
Because nations near the Equator are relatively spared, it’s up to the
Nigerian space program to rescue her. From this remarkable premise, Olukotun
spins a tale that is part thriller (will the astronaut be rescued in time? Will
the terrorists drawing ever closer to the base take over before the rescue
rocket can be launched? What ancient, possibly magical artifact have the desert
women discovered?), part science fictional examination of the endless ingenuity
of human beings, and part cultural drama. The richness of the African backdrop,
from local customs to corrupt politics to wildlife to a vanished civilization,
colors every aspect of Nigeria’s fast-paced space race.