Friday, June 17, 2011

For I Have Touched the Sky, by Mike Resnick

Mike Resnick's Kirinyaga series tells the story of Kikuyu who have given up life in modern Kenya to reclaim their ancestral lives in a satellite.  For I Have Touched the Sky is the second story in the series, and like the first (and I suspect them all) it fully explores the strengths and limitations of tribal life.

Koriba the mundumugu (witch doctor) for his tribe is the protagonist in the series, and in this story he encounters a young girl who is fully tied to tribal life, and yet is a genius longing for much more than the tribe can give her.  The story metaphor is of a wounded bird, who could be cured but could not fly again, and so will not be content and dies.  Koriba knows that allowing her to be herself will introduce ideas that will be the end of the colony, and also knows that thwarting her will be almost impossible.  And it is.  The story fully shows the fragility of the idea of the colony itself--it will be only by a series of increasingly difficult compromises and costly decisions that the colony will continue.

Resnick is a good and prolific author.  I had a chance to chat with him about SF over 20 years ago via email, when online chats were still a novelty.  He is full of ideas and never seems to stop writing.  This series won several awards and is well worth reading.  4 stars for this one.

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