This review was first published by Booklist on August 22, 2017.
A solar flare knocks out electrical grids and technology worldwide. Countries along the equator survive best, so Nigeria ends up with the only functional space program on Earth. With the help of a former NASA engineer, the Nigerian astronauts undertake a daring rescue operation to the International Space Station. Meanwhile, terrorists threaten the launch, and excavations unearth an ancient secret. Olukotun weaves together a broad spectrum of subjects: engineering and archaeology, culture and politics, biohacking and cybernetic animal technology, ancient tribal wisdom and magical stones. With such an original premise, the story is well-paced, with compelling characters and a subtle sense of humor. It’s particularly fascinating to witness the culture shock of an African-American man now living in his ancestral homeland. If there’s a weak spot, it’s that the proffered scientific explanation for the more fantastical elements is a bit strained. This is a solidly enjoyable dystopian near-future novel set in Nigeria, with an international cast of characters, written by a Nigerian-American author.