Tade Thompson, Rosewater
Rosewater is an exciting science fiction novel set several decades after first contact with an alien called Wormwood, that has established itself as a large biodome in Nigeria. The novel follows Kaaro, a thief whose extra special abilities are forged from an unlikely connection with the alien. The whole thing is part sci-fi adventure and part spy novel.
The novel is set in multiple timelines with whole sections of the story told in flashback. This gives a sense of hopping through Kaaro’s memories and helps us explore this strange futuristic vision of Nigeria. It also really helps with pace, first by throwing us into the story and then helping to explain the relationships between the characters we are introduced to.
In many ways the style is reminiscent of William Gibson or Neal Stephenson. There’s no bothering to explain too much of what is going on, and with most of the action having branched off our own timeline, you get the feeling that Kaaro knows what we would understand of his world from our existing science fiction. The only things that really get explained are the truly odd bits. Well, almost all of those bits: there are some parts of events that even Kaaro doesn’t understand, and we are left none the wiser. Kind of a “I think that’s what happened” scenario. I liked this, and it left me thinking about the story for a few days after I read it.
There are two more novels in the sequence. Yes, it follows that science fiction trope of being a trilogy! What isn’t these days?! I don’t mind though, I’m quite keen to further explore the Rosewater universe and find out what those aliens are up to!