When a detective with psychic powers begins to investigate a mysterious sickness plaguing those like him, he uncovers sinister truths that may very well call into question the survival of the human race.
It’s 2066, and in Nigeria, the town of Rosewater has grown up around a strange dome that heals whomever stands beneath it. Kaaro, a government security officer who was a criminal before becoming a soldier, is a “sensitive,” a rare breed of human endowed with psychic powers. Just as Kaaro meets a woman who could possibly make him happy, sensitives like him begin to get sick and die. As Kaaro digs deeper and deeper into the source of the sensitives’ illness, his troubled past and riveting present come together to paint the picture of a horrifying future. Thompson’s debut novel brims with inventive and seamless worldbuilding, eloquent prose, a strong cast of powerful black characters, and cutting social commentary on the current geopolitical shift toward authoritarianism and post-colonial trauma. Thompson’s rendering of the “xenosphere,” a theoretical dimension into which psychic characters can project their consciousnesses, is nothing short of brilliant. Perhaps Thompson’s most impressive feat is his use of Kaaro’s psychic powers to assert unprovable facts. For instance, when Kaaro senses a suicide bomber in a nearby crowd, he thinks: “I hate suicide bombers. Their heads are always full of mushy rhetoric, faulty logic and grim fucking resolve. Just after they activate the detonator there is some regret, but still.” Though the novel feels slightly overlong and the way the chapters rigidly alternate between past and present feels forced at times, it never fails to intrigue and entertain.
A captivating, cerebral work of science fiction that may very well signal a new definitive voice in the genre.