Kirinyaga Paperback – May 25 1999
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Kirinyaga: A Fable of Utopia collects Mike Resnick's famous Kirinyaga stories and ties them together in a thematic arc that has novel-like continuity. The story focuses on Koriba, a mundumugu (sort of like a witch doctor and a wise man rolled into one) of the Kikuyu tribe. Koriba feels that his tribe has been corrupted by "European" technology, so he helps to establish a small, utopian planetoid named Kirinyaga where the Kikuyu can return to their roots, farming the land and worshipping the god Ngai without technological or cultural interference. As utopias go, Kirinyaga experiences its fair share of problems--both from within and without--each of which is detailed in the individual chapters and stories. The writing is not stylish but the stories are all excellent, and Resnick does a good job of integrating the traditional Kikuyu way of life into tales that any culture can appreciate. Readers looking for a novel may come away a bit disappointed because this book is really a collection of stories, but as far as collections go, few are better than Kirinyaga. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From School Library Journal
YA-Set in the 22nd century, this stunning sci-fi allegory describes the struggles and ultimate failure of a utopian colony on a terraformed planetoid. In the African nation of Kenya, polluted cities crawl up the side of Mount Kirinyaga. The magnificent animal herds of the past are but distant memories and native crops have been supplanted by European imports. Koriba, a well-educated man, is determined to reinstate the ancient customs and strict laws of his Kikuyu ancestors and invites others to join him in a new society named for their sacred mountain. As the mundumugu-witch doctor-Koriba faces numerous challenges to the utopian society's survival. He must deny a brilliant young woman an education because it is not the ancient way of his people. He watches helplessly as his charges insist on bringing in a white hunter with a gun to kill marauding hyenas when the colony's primitive weapons prove insufficient. With the technology comes subservience to white men's ways. But, in an ultimate irony, Koriba maintains his pure society with a computer link to the rest of humanity, even adjusting weather patterns by communicating his needs to an outside "Maintenance" group. It is the thirst for knowledge that this computer represents that becomes the ultimate threat to the colony. Young adults will love this provocative tale that examines the need for an orderly society, the rights of the individual, and the siren's lure of knowledge.
Pat Bangs, Fairfax County Public Library, VA
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
We did not like the book. She could not finish it and I struggled to do so. While the stories and the ideas explored are interesting, it does not ring true to us. I recognize that this book is fiction and want to stress that it is just that, fiction. It is not a representation of the Kikuyu and makes only the most distant references to them. For example, most of the names used are not Kikuyu and one time, when they do use a male Kikuyu name, it is given to a woman. The foundation of this book is weak and, with very minimal effort, could have been made stronger.
In my opinion, a tribe should have been invented or lip service should have been given to the tribe that was being used. The photo on the back cover summarized things for us. Resnick is standing in a safari suit, next to a rhino. We are sure the photo was taken at Mt. Kenya Safari Club, one of the most exclusive hotels in Africa and is as far from the Kikuyu as his writing is. He looks like the tourists we see and his writing reflects as deep an understanding of the Kikuyu as the two week visitors do.
This is a remarkable book, written with so much wisdom and insight. The dialogue and prose is sharp and controlled. Resnick presents both sides of the arguments with such clarity and humanity, it's sometimes heartbreaking. Koriba's well-intentioned but ultimately misguided crusade against change is challenged again and again, not necessarily by the "outside", but by the "inside" - the minds and hearts of his villagers. It's fascinating to see how he resolves these challenges to his authority and his hopes for the Kikuyu ... and sometimes downright scary.
The book also shows us the erroneous assumption of multiculturalism - that everything in every culture is worth saving and perpetuating. The modern myths of the Kikuyu - and indeed of many peoples on this planet - that "the West" is to blame for their condition and/or corruption (and everything "Western" should therefore be anathema) is not spared. It's tempting to carry on here about the general public's overwhelming ignorance of Africa's booming slave trade, because it's all in the same vein.
The stories show that for all our differences in time and space, people are the same everywhere - and that is the "problem" that cannot be controlled by isolation.
The reality is that every culture is always changing.Read more ›
1. humans and where humanity is headed
2. what gender roles mean and how changing them changes a society profoundly
3. the past is a place that holds many charms and many restrictions
4. the consequences of our choices, and the effects that those choices have on those under us-- who amongst us is wise enough to make the decisions?
5. utopia, Resnick explored this topic in ways that I could never have predicted, and in very human ways without over-exaggeration (unlike the treatment in Candide, etc.)
I was alternately fascinated, interested, angered, amused.... At one point I was so upset that I put the book down for about two weeks because of the emtions that it aroused in me-- I can't say that about many books that I have read. I finally picked it up again and was completely satisfied by the ending. The fact that it was written as a series of separate stories was effective as well. I have used this in class (adult ESL) and it was successful.
The planetoid in the story, Kirinyaga (Mountain of Light, the Maasai name for Mount Kenya), is home to a group of ancestral Kikuyu who wished to leave the bustling, high-tech Earth for a back-to-nature lifestyle. Koriba, an educated multilingual man, presides over this simple culture as the mundumugu (witch doctor). Dangerously cunning and self-righteous to a fault, he reads omens, blesses infants, performs marriages, negotiates dowries, places and removes curses, tells stories, operates the computer that controls orbital motions and weather, and generally controls the lives of all in the village. He is a complex man trying to show a simple face, he is a simple man playing a complex role.
As anyone who wishes to leave Kirinyaga only needs to walk to the small spaceport and announce an intention to leave, Koriba rules with enough fear and charisma to keep most of the people under his thumb. The people are prisoners only because they allow it.
While pure science fiction (complete with spaceships and undersea cities and asteroid colonies), these are extremely human stories. Human nature, not always pretty, is laid out here for all to see. Koriba will turn this society into a "proper" Kikuyu society, no matter what the cost. What can one do? He really *does* control the weather.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
Koriba, a distinguished, educated man of Kikuyu ancestry builds a utopian colony on a terraformed planetoid. Read morePublished on May 31 2000 by Rebecca Brown
I'm generally a fan of Mike's SF-Stories. Nevertheless, this one's won a special price in my collection for not only being a good SF-book but also a critical view on human... Read morePublished on Feb. 14 2000 by Dr. Alexander Burger
Read this book.. Very much worth your time.. not merely science-fiction but more a book of ideas.. provokes you to think things through and choose sides and i like that most about... Read morePublished on Sept. 17 1999
Mike Resnick has an incredible understanding of tribal african thinking. I am a South African and I was absolutely positive that this had been written by a fellow White (South)... Read morePublished on Sept. 3 1999
This is arguably the best colection of science-fiction stories EVER!! And I am taking into account "The Martian Chronicles"! A bold statement? Over-exageration? Read morePublished on Sept. 30 1998
It's a good--maybe even great--story cycle, but good lord, do yourself a favour and assiduously avoid reading the horribly arrogant and obnoxious afterward, in which Resnick... Read morePublished on Sept. 26 1998 by GeoX
I have been a Resnick fan for some time so I am somewhat biased. Saying that, I find Kirinyaga to be the finest fiction ever written. Read morePublished on Sept. 12 1998 by Alex Schott
Kirinyaga is a collection of short stories that Resnick originally published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. Read morePublished on July 5 1998 by Dave Long (email@example.com)