... gorgeous ... Episodic and organic, the story winds along with a limber rhythm that allows every rich detail of Sankofa's surreal world to surface. It's a cumulative narrative, a slow burn that builds in emotional urgency even as the scope of Okorafor's worldbuilding bursts into something breathtakingly vast ... By story's end, Okorafor pulls a neat trick: She uses the way in which legends morph throughout time to add another level of ambiguity to Sankofa's origin and fate. It's a delicious ambiguity, though, one that blurs the lines between worship and fear, between machine and flesh, between corporation and culture, and between death and reclamation ... multifaceted.
Easy to read, emotionally gritty, and wildly imaginative, this is a short novel that takes readers into that wonderful place in fiction where genres collide and great character development leads to unforgettable protagonists ... the kind of narrative that seamlessly blends together the best of various genres ... Despite the plethora of enjoyable elements present, what truly makes it a satisfying read is Okorafor’s writing. Okorafor has a deep understanding of human nature and knows the ways a single element can make someone an Other even within their own culture ... Remote Control shines ... this is a great addition to her already stunning oeuvre.
... a richly rewarding look at identity and independence as Sankofa develops her own convictions, even as everything she knows and loves—her home on a shea fruit farm, her family, her identity—is taken away from her. At times bloody and grim, Okorafor’s straightforward prose highlights Sankofa’s precociousness as she tries to make sense of her frightening new abilities ... One of the most striking sections of the novella is where Sankofa is persuaded to embrace the idea of normalcy. Here, Okorafor illuminates a painful part of the teenage psyche ... Okorafor adds just the right touches of adult condescension and pubescent compliance to build a familiar scenario that resonates with many a reader—memories of being young and confused and stubborn, but secretly hoping for guidance and acceptance ... while references to 'remote control' within the context of witchcraft escaped me, it conjured an elusive sense of mystery that kept the pages turning until there was nothing left to read ... Some of the most pleasant passages are where Sankofa spends time in the bush, away from prying eyes and opportunistic adults who might use or abuse her. It speaks to a long heritage of fiction that explores young personhood and its place in nature, where human concepts of control are absurd and arbitrary ... Okorafor smartly avoids needless worldbuilding details—instead, she drops neatly-sized crumbs that draw easy parallels between our current reality and Sankofa’s world ... a charming read, opening up a universe of possibilities for more (or perhaps, in a world where we expect things to go on forever, perhaps Remote Control is, in fact, just right as it is).
Landing once again firmly in the subgenre of science fiction that Okorafor herself has termed Africanfuturism, this novella is sure to captivate existing fans and also draw new readers to her work ... Okorafor has created quite a world here. She explores the intersection of power and control with technology and politics, even weaving in the elements of mythology and legend that Sankofa brings to the table. There is a beautiful juxtaposition between the youth of this female protagonist and the weight of her role as the so-called 'adopted daughter of the Angel of Death'...And while the story may be set in a time yet-to-come, filled with futuristic elements, like any good science fiction story the themes are just as relevant in the real world we live in today ... a quick read, but is packaged with much care. Despite how the story sounds, it reads as more character-driven than plot-driven for this reviewer, which may leave some readers wanting more — of Fatima, her transformation into Sankofa, and of this unique world Okorafor has built. Regardless, fans of science-fiction will enjoy this unique adventure and fans of literary fiction will be impressed by the underlying considerations of culture, identity, family, and more.
... stunning ... transported me ... I loved so many things about Okorafor’s book. The futuristic details have wit, energy and brilliance, but there is also genuine depth to the narrative: a serene, folktale-ish cadence that feels timeless. Moreover, Sankofa isn’t just a symbol; she’s a heartbreakingly real character who must conquer loneliness and fear, and gradually learn to control her gifts. I especially liked her tender friendship with the fox who has followed her all these years, and I cried a little at the scene where, at age 14, she gets her first period, with no mother to help. A sympathetic stranger gives her sanitary pads and fresh clothing ... I can’t wait to see what she does next.
The colourful imagery of Ghana and the somewhat cautionary tale of Sankofa reminded me of the Anansi stories – Ghanaian folk tales about a trickster that could take the shape of a spider, which I recall from my childhood – but with a tantalising sci-fi mystery woven through it ... I love a good mystery and Remote Control is thrilling and surprising all the way through. Even the book’s ending comes suddenly and unexpectedly. I think there is definitely room for the story to continue and I very much hope it does.
Okorafor builds a deep awareness for the reader of what justice actually looks like, who is able to deliver it, and how ... An incredible Afrofuturistic legend, Remote Control offers a heroine who, when given power over life itself, relies distinctly on her humanity.
The Wire was known for its gritty realism, and Okorafor evoking the series in her latest work of Africanfuturism and mythology produces a unique tale of how legends are made ... Omar became a legend within The Wire’s version of Baltimore because he was a perpetual underdog, a fierce and canny figure fighting against the might of the city’s biggest gangs. Sankofa’s incredible power makes her untouchable, and the larger, hinted-at enemy of the LifeGen Corporation—a powerful pharmaceutical company searching for aliens, which is also featured in Okorafor’s 2016 novel The Book Of Phoenix—never manifests in any satisfying way ... While the book is full of powerful lines...Remote Control reads much like the books of mythology Fatima loved. The novella provides poignant expressions about grief, longing, growing up, and facing your past, but offers little explanation of why things happen or don’t. The ending in particular feels rushed, with a climax that’s meant to be dramatic but is more perplexing ... Okorafor has never felt a need to place her stories firmly into conventional genres, but given how short and fascinating Remote Control is, she could have done more to refine this work. Sankofa’s story feels complete by its end, making it unlikely that Okorafor will use Remote Control as the start of a new series. Standing alone, Sankofa is a fascinating character, but one whose legend isn’t quite compelling enough to take hold in our world.
Okorafor builds a stunning landscape of futuristic technology and African culture, with prose that will grab readers from the first sentence. Sankofa is at once innocent and experienced, facing a world forever changed for and by her ... This compelling novella is Africanfuturism sf at its best.
Sankofa is an engaging character and despite her strange circumstances, she is practical and driven forward by a strong sense of right and wrong. Tense moments of conflict are followed by gentler vignettes where she gets to know the people and the world around her. Sankofa’s path through Ghana covers both the mundane and the futuristic, and Okorafor examines what happens when normal people meet someone or something they do not understand. Great for speculative fiction devotees that are seeking a non-Eurocentric setting and an unusual but engrossing protagonist.
... electrifying ... Following a common trend in Okorafor’s work, this imaginative, thought-provoking story uses elements of the fantastic to investigate the complexities of gender and community outside of a European, colonial imagination. Readers will be blown away.
Rich with West African culture and history, including the magical healing powers of shea butter, this book reads more like a folktale than science fiction, though it does include questions about the advancement of surveillance technology, the ever growing presence of American pharmaceutical giants, and the ways they might be connected. With this new novel, Okorafor’s career continues in the same vein as her previous Nebula– and Hugo Award–winning Binti novella trilogy; she has a rare ability to open the reader's mind to various futures while creating complex characters and communities. Though Sankofa's story is short, it's gripping, and readers will likely find themselves rooting for her to find peace ... A captivating world, a tragic tale, and a dangerous future. This story must go on.