If you like your fantasy stories shaped by George R.R. Martin and HBO, then you may want to start reading Nnedi Okorafor’s Who Fears Death, because the most consistent TV studio in the business has just optioned the 2010 award winning novel, and apparently George Raymond Richard is attached.
Okorafor dropped the news herself today, via a tweet and attached selfie in front of gratuitous HBO signage…
We haven’t heard anything official from HBO or Martin, as of yet, but Okorafor’s word seems plenty fit to print, judging by that PhD and all the words she’s had printed over the years. The Nigerian-American writer has published titles for children, young adults, and adults, and won several awards doing so, including a Nebula and a Hugo.
Who Fears Death was Okorafor’s first adult novel, and the winner of the Best Novel at the 2011 World Fantasy Awards.
Here’s the official synopsis:
In a post-apocalyptic Africa, the world has changed in many ways; yet in one region genocide between tribes still bloodies the land. A woman who has survived the annihilation of her village and a terrible rape by an enemy general wanders into the desert, hoping to die. Instead, she gives birth to an angry baby girl with hair and skin the color of sand. Gripped by the certainty that her daughter is different—special—she names her Onyesonwu, which means "Who fears death?" in an ancient language.
It doesn't take long for Onye to understand that she is physically and socially marked by the circumstances of her conception. She is Ewu—a child of rape who is expected to live a life of violence, a half-breed rejected by her community. But Onye is not the average Ewu. Even as a child, she manifests the beginnings of a remarkable and unique magic. As she grows, so do her abilities, and during an inadvertent visit to the spirit realm, she learns something terrifying: someone powerful is trying to kill her.
Desperate to elude her would-be murderer and to understand her own nature, she embarks on a journey in which she grapples with nature, tradition, history, true love, and the spiritual mysteries of her culture, and ultimately learns why she was given the name she bears: Who Fears Death.
At 396 pages, it’s not exactly the lengthy treasure trove of source material that HBO got with Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series. But Okorafor also wrote a 241-page WFD prequel (if it’s going to be an HBO show, we may as well start truncating the title) called The Book of Phoenix, so perhaps that’s on the table as well.
So, what do you think? Is it high time we started reading Okorafor? If you’ve already done so, let us know what we've been missing.