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Kirinyaga/One Perfect Day, with Jackals
Mike Resnick
Infinivox, 83 minutes

Kirinyaga/One Perfect Day, with Jackals
Mike Resnick
Mike Resnick sold his first book in 1962 and went on to sell more than 200 novels, 300 short stories and 2,000 articles, almost all of them under pseudonyms. He turned to SF with the sale of The Soul Eater, his first under his own name. Since 1989, Mike has won three Hugo Awards (for "Kirinyaga", "The Manamouki", and "Seven Views of Olduvai Gorge"), a Nebula Award (for "Seven Views of Olduvai Gorge"), and has been nominated for sixteen Hugos, eight Nebulas, a Clarke (British), and five Seiun-shos (Japanese).

Mike Resnick Tribute Page
Review of Kirinyaga
ISFDB Bibliography

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Steven H Silver

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As I've written elsewhere, I have highly enjoyed the entire "Kirinyaga" Cycle written by Mike Resnick. With the complete set of stories about to be published in novel form, I took the opportunity to listen to the first two stories on audio tape as presented by Infinivox.

Unfortunately, Infinivox dropped the ball in their selection of a reader for Resnick's powerful fables of one man's attempt to secure a utopian society for his people. While Koriba is described as a mundumugu, part of which entails being a masterful story-teller, Pat Bottino recites both stories, and the fables Koriba tells, in a stiff, nearly monotonous manner.

The first story on this tape is not the title story, but rather "One Perfect Morning, with Jackals." This story, one of the last published, is set the earliest chronologically and tells the story of Koriba's last morning on Earth before leaving for Kirinyaga. Infinivox placed this story at the beginning, as does Resnick in the novel form of Kirinyaga. Unfortunately, I think doing so does a great disservice to the story cycle as a whole and to Koriba's character in particular.

As I read the stories in their original appearances, Koriba's character began as something of a hero: a man trying to maintain his own culture in the face of both internal and external threats. As the stories progressed, his flaws became more apparent and he moved from being a hero to being a tragic figure. "One Perfect Morning, with Jackals" focuses on Koriba's character flaws. Rather than beginning the cycle as a hero, he begins as an hypocritical and didactic character.

Of course, "One Perfect Morning, with Jackals" is the prologue to the series as a whole which gets underway with "Kirinyaga." It has been ten years since I first read "Kirinyaga" and the story of Koriba's attempt to fend off European interference in Kikuyu culture is as powerful now as it was then. One of the strengths of the story is the multiple levels on which it can be read (or heard).

The plot is reasonably simple. The Kikuyu have left Earth for an artificial world named Kirinyaga, which has been created to resemble the African savannahs as much as possible. On Kirinyaga, they are supposed to have complete autonomy. However, when Koriba, the witch doctor, kills a child who was born under a curse, the Europeans feel they must interfere. Koriba tries to fend off European interference while maintaining his own people's support for their customs.

"Kirinyaga" explores what it means to belong to a particular ethnic group. Koriba dictates (in his own mind, at least) who is and is not a Kikuyu. At the same time, Resnick is examining cultural interference. Are the Europeans correct in trying to stop the Kikuyu from killing children who are born "cursed," or should they respect a foreign culture which is doing something anathema to them? Despite the simplicity of plot, the issues "Kirinyaga" raises are complex.

That this tape stands up as well as it does is a testimony to the power of Resnick's writing. Less powerful works would have been destroyed by Bottino's reading. With luck, Infinivox will manage to find better readers for subsequent volumes of the Tales of Kirinyaga, readers whose voices can do justice to the fabulous story-telling quality of Resnick's words.

Copyright © 1998 by Steven H Silver

Steven H Silver is one of the founders and judges for the Sidewise Award for Alternate History. He sits on concoms for Windycon, Chicon 2000 and Clavius in 2001 and is co-chair of Picnicon 1998. Steven will be serving as the Programming Chairman for Chicon 2000. In addition to maintaining several bibliographies and the Harry Turtledove website, Steven is trying to get his short stories published and has recently finished his first novel. He lives at home with his wife and 3200 books. He is available for convention panels.


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