Riot Baby by Tochi Onyebuchi
This is a raw, chaotic, difficult novella, bursting with righteous anger and inconsolable grief. It is a graphic documentation that violence against people of color has not ended; it is the only thing we see in Onyebuchi’s dystopian near future. The tally of injustices flashes by, unexplained and unmoored in time, skipping randomly among present events, memories from the recent past, and glimpses of a terrible future.
The story is told by two siblings, a younger boy (Kev), born during riots that destroy San Francisco, and his few-years-older sister (Ella), whose magical abilities enable her to see visions of violence. Ella’s visions both predict the future and replay past memories held by people and places. But her magic turns destructive in her teens, particularly after smart, successful Kev loses his way in violence. Kev must learn to control his rage in order to survive prison, though he is never allowed to forget it. Ella tries to channel her powers, but her own rage builds with every vision. In the end, it may be best for their world to burn.
This novella has been nominated for a 2021 Hugo Award.
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