This is a long memoir essay or short memoir written by Nnedi Okorafor author of several sci fi and fantasy novels, of which I’ve only read the Binti trilogy. This book is published by TED books and the audiobook which came out this week is narrated by Okorafor, and given the subject matter and length of the book is perfect. I don’t know or didn’t know much about Okorafor before this, but did enjoy the Binti books. One of the primary focuses of this book is her long-term recovering and rehabilitation from significant spinal injuries, the recuperation of that energy, the use of reading and writing as a recovery tool, the ways in which her recovery took on the auspices of science fiction stories, and lots of other things.
She ties her injury and recovery to the becoming of a cyborg figure. If you’ve read Donna Haraway’s “The Cyborg Manifesto” (you should! — http://faculty.georgetown.edu/irvinem/theory/Haraway-CyborgManifesto-1.pdf) it talks about the use of technology to change and adapt bodies. I think about this a lot when it comes to discussions of sports and warfare and other activities built and designed around healthy male bodies. Okorafor gets into some of this same discussion when she references Avatar, and how the adaptations of the various rigs and body-augmentation technologies allows a cyborg existence. She ties these same ideas to her own use of technology to allows her legs and spine to recovery from the traumatic injury. In sports and the military there’s a constant discussion of what “women can do” and no discussion about how equity would better solve some of the same issues that these spaces try to force equality into.