Another African saga from Resnick (A Miracle of Rare Design, 1994, etc.) comprising nine linked stores (all have appeared before; several have won major awards) about Kirinyaga, the spiritual homeland of Kenya's Kikuyu people. In the 22nd century, the Eutopian Council grants the Kikuyu people a terraformed planet to be their new homeland (old Kenya is citified and Europeanized) where they can live according to their ancient customs and practices. Though the paramount chief is Koinnage, the ultimate authority on Kirinyaga is the witch doctor Koriba, healer, arbitrator, teacher, priest, and repository of the tribe's wisdom. By Kikuyu custom, the old and infirm are put outside for the hyenas, and infanticide is both common and necessary; Maintenance, which controls the planets's orbit and climate, objects but has no power to intervene. But other threats to Koriba's utopia arise, and at first his wisdom and cunning prevail: He is able to make his rulings with dissent. Slowly, however, despite Koriba's best efforts, modern ideas and technology begin to corrupt his nascent utopia. At last even Koriba's apprentice, Ndemi, abandons Kirinyaga, while the people reject the Kikuyu god, Ngai, whose spirit embodies the mountain of Kirinyaga. Readers will be constrained to ask: Is this a genuine utopia tragically destroyed, or the impossible dream of a mulish old man who rejects even the possibility of change? It's thought- provoking, unquestionably, and Resnick's yarn-spinning is top- notch. But problems remain, such as the traditional status of Kikuyu women, whose lot is unremitting toil, enforced ignorance, and genital mutilation.
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