Into the Forest discussion

Midnight Robber
This topic is about Midnight Robber
33 views
African American Caribbean > The Midnight Robber by Nalo Hopkinson

Comments Showing 1-42 of 42 (42 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Jalilah (last edited Feb 02, 2017 11:51AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jalilah | 4261 comments Mod
The thread is for our carnival themed group read, Midnight Robber by Nalo Hopkinson!
The read will be roughly February 15-March 1.
Feel free to start before or afterwards (anyway all our discussion threads stay open)


Leah (flying_monkeys) | 1009 comments Lila wrote: "The thread is for our carnival themed group read, Midnight Robber by Nalo Hopkinson!
The read will be roughly February 15-March 1.
Feel free to start before or afterwar..."


I have to buy this one, which is why I wasn't planning to read it until later this year... but I don't need much of an excuse to add a new book to my collection. ;)


Melanti | 2125 comments Mod
I want to finish my current book and the Arabian Nights book first, then I'm going to try to wrk this in.


message 4: by Jan (new) - added it

Jan M Flynn | 4 comments Marked it Want To Read, but trying to be realistic about my reading commitments this month! Sounds delicious, though :-)


Melanti | 2125 comments Mod
Good to hear so many want to join in!

I've been eavesdropping on the Swords & Laser group, and coincidentally, they're reading The Salt Roads this month. I've been surprised to hear the number of people in that group who've never heard of her!


Leah (flying_monkeys) | 1009 comments My copy hasn't come in yet :(

Seller delivery timeline states between 2/10 - 3/3. Hopefully sooner than later since I've had this one on the ol' TBR list for a couple years.


Melanti | 2125 comments Mod
Oh no!
It might be such a broad window if they're using media mail since the post office won't grant delivery dates for that.

But in my experience, it generally doesn't take more than a few extra days to arrive. I'll cross my fingers for you!


Melanti | 2125 comments Mod
Robyn wrote: "I haven't started reading this yet, but by chance, I just read a great story by Truman Capote that includes carnival (and Voodoo and a ghost): "House of Flowers." Thought I would mention it, though..."

I think that one's usually published with Breakfast at Tiffany's. Oddly enough, both times I've read the novella, it's been in stand-alone volumes and I've never read the stories usually published with it.


Leah (flying_monkeys) | 1009 comments My copy arrived today - yay! I'll be starting this on Saturday.


Jalilah | 4261 comments Mod
I have my copy, but have to finish what I am reading first.


Melanti | 2125 comments Mod
Just waiting for everyone else.

I've seeing various parties on the news and hearing people making plans for road trips to New Orleans, so it's definitely Carnival season now!


message 12: by Katy (new) - added it

Katy (kathy_h) | 820 comments Has anyone started this one yet? It is written in dialect so will not be an easy read for me, but the dialect has such a wonderful rhythm to it that I think I will love the writing.


Jalilah | 4261 comments Mod
Kathy wrote: "Has anyone started this one yet? It is written in dialect so will not be an easy read for me, but the dialect has such a wonderful rhythm to it that I think I will love the writing."

Hopefully tomorrow! The book I'm reading is taking longer to finish. I've had so little time to read!


Melanti | 2125 comments Mod
Just finished my current book, so I'm all ready to get started on this one!


message 15: by Katy (new) - added it

Katy (kathy_h) | 820 comments I actually just set aside the other books I was reading for this one.


Melanti | 2125 comments Mod
I didn't realize it was so dialect-heavy!

This is proving useful: http://jamaicanpatwah.com/term/Pickne...

But browsing via first letter seems more reliable since they're not always spelled identically.


Jalilah | 4261 comments Mod
Melanti wrote: "I didn't realize it was so dialect-heavy!

This is proving useful: http://jamaicanpatwah.com/term/Pickne...

But browsing via first letter seems more reliable since they're not alw..."


Kathy wrote: "Has anyone started this one yet? It is written in dialect so will not be an easy read for me, but the dialect has such a wonderful rhythm to it that I think I will love the writing."

If I remember Brown Girl in the Ring was also in dialect, but I managed to understand it once I got used to it. I am curious how I'll fare here. I will be starting tonight!


Jalilah | 4261 comments Mod
Oh boy, I'm having a hard time understanding this one! Not because of the dialect, rather because I don't usually read science fiction, so it hard for me to understand the world Hopkinson has built. All her other books have taken place in our world.
There are spoilers here, but it did help me understand the setting as well as cultural references https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Midni...


Jalilah | 4261 comments Mod
How's everyone else doing with this?


message 20: by Leah (new) - rated it 4 stars

Leah (flying_monkeys) | 1009 comments I've only read to page 8 but that's because of a work project interfering with my reading time. I thought of you, though, when I started it because you've mentioned that sci-fi isn't usually your genre.


Melanti | 2125 comments Mod
Doing good. I'm about 1/3 to half done.

Enjoying it so far!


Melanti | 2125 comments Mod
Just realized that some folks in this group might appreciate a heads up - this does deal with some heavy issues.

(view spoiler)


message 23: by Jalilah (last edited Feb 24, 2017 05:47PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jalilah | 4261 comments Mod
Melanti wrote: "Just realized that some folks in this group might appreciate a heads up - this does deal with some heavy issues.

[spoilers removed]"


Yeah, I read that in the Wikipedia page.

Leah wrote: "I've only read to page 8 but that's because of a work project interfering with my reading time. I thought of you, though, when I started it because you've mentioned that sci-fi isn't usually your g..."

Well, I'm continuing because it's Nalo Hopkinson and focusing on the story of Tam Tam and her parents. There's a lot I don't understand and can't visualize or imagine. For example I don't really get it about the eshus. I always thought that Eshu was a trickster god. Here it seems more like they are computers or like the internet. I also don't understand what the runners are supposed to be.
If anyone can clarify, I'd greatly appreciate it!


Melanti | 2125 comments Mod
So, basically, in our culture we'd probably give Eshu a name like "computer" or "robot" or "artificial intelligence." But most of those words refer back to Greek or Latin root words.

However, since it's a solely Afro-Caribian society, instead of using those Greek and Latin root words, they're using names from the African culture instead.

The runners are basically pedicab or rickshaw operators but pulled by hand rather than cycle. It's explained later that they're descendants of the original computer programmers and know know some of the back-door codes for the Granny Nanny AI monitoring system.


Melanti | 2125 comments Mod
Ah! I found the interview with Hopkinson that I was remembering:

Why does the technology in the novel have different names than we're used to?

In part, I was interested in how we think of technology. So many of our stories about technology and our paradigms for it refer to Greek and Roman myth and language: we name rocket ships "Apollo" and communication devices "telephone," a human-machine interface a "cyborg." It shapes not only the names for the technology we create, but the type of technology we create. I wondered what technologies a largely African diasporic culture might build, what stories its people might tell itself about technology. So a communication device that sees and hears becomes a "four-eye;" literally, a seer. The artificial intelligence that safeguards all the people in a planetary system becomes Granny Nanny, named after the revolutionary and magic worker who won independent rule in Jamaica for the Maroons who had run away from slavery. Rather than being a "Big Brother" paradigm it is an affectionate reference to her sense of love, care, and duty. The operating system that runs a dwelling is an "eshu," named after the West African deity who can be in all places at once, who is the ghost in the machine.


The intelligence that watches over the planet Toussaint knows everything that every human on it does, nearly all the time. Is this paradise or hell?

At some point, most of the way through creating the world I needed to tell the story, I realized to my surprise that I had created a utopia. I hadn't set out to do that, am not sure I could have if I'd made a deliberate effort. It isn't perfect; the person who invented the system saw the high level of benign surveillance as an acceptable trade-off for the kind of safety and high quality of life that the people would have. There are no poor people on Toussaint, and no wage slaves. And though Granny Nanny perceives all, she doesn't tell all, unless she thinks it's an issue of someone's safety. It really does feel like being mothered, and sometimes that's a good thing, sometimes it's a smothering thing.



Full interview here: https://www.sfsite.com/03b/nh77.htm


message 26: by Jalilah (last edited Feb 26, 2017 10:27AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jalilah | 4261 comments Mod
Melanti wrote: "Ah! I found the interview with Hopkinson that I was remembering:

Why does the technology in the novel have different names than we're used to?

In part, I was interested in how we think of techno..."


Great interview Melanti! Thanks for sharing. I'm about half way through and loving it! I think Hopkinson is also raising important questions regarding society and how much government can and should interfere.

I love the dialect! I agree with what she says in the interview:
"If I had written Midnight Robber completely in English Standard, it would have had a very different feel and rhythm. I could say "Carnival revelry," but it wouldn't convey movement, sound, joy the same way that "ring-bang ruction" does. "


Melanti | 2125 comments Mod
I finished the last little bit yesterday, accompanied by some King-Cake flavored coffee. Yum!

I liked it overall, but think it's a bit flawed. I'll save the bulk of my comments until others have finished.

Tan-Tan was someone I felt sorry for but didn't necessarily like.


Jalilah | 4261 comments Mod
I just finished it and am not sure how to rate it. Overall I liked it and considering I usually don't like science fiction, I am pleasantly surprised. That being said, I found many parts to be confusing and Im not sure if it's because of the setting taking place on another planet or the writing. I don't think Tan Tan is meant to be likeable, but I too felt sorry for her. I liked the part of the douen very much.


message 29: by Katy (new) - added it

Katy (kathy_h) | 820 comments Well, no one has given this one 5-stars so I think I will move on and read something else.


message 30: by Jalilah (last edited Mar 03, 2017 05:54AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jalilah | 4261 comments Mod
Kathy wrote: "Well, no one has given this one 5-stars so I think I will move on and read something else."

Oh it's definitely worth reading Kathy! It's just I agree with what Melanti said, that its flawed. There are some pieces that don't quite come together (view spoiler) and the characterization: (view spoiler). That's what it was for me, but I still enjoyed the book immensely.
I think I'll give it 4 stars . The idea and the world she created are 5 stars but the flaws bring it down to 4.


message 31: by Katy (new) - added it

Katy (kathy_h) | 820 comments Nice to know, thanks.


Melanti | 2125 comments Mod
Neither of those elements made sense to me either, Lila.

(view spoiler)


message 33: by Leah (last edited Mar 03, 2017 05:51PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Leah (flying_monkeys) | 1009 comments I finished around 2am this morning. After around the 150 page mark I couldn't put it down. The douen were my favorite part of Tan-Tan's world and I found this article from the Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online that I thought other members might enjoy reading. Now I'm off to read the full interview Melanti linked to.

ETA: I think Antonio was a controlling narcissist and that's why he did what he did. (view spoiler)


message 34: by Jalilah (last edited Mar 05, 2017 05:38AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jalilah | 4261 comments Mod
Leah wrote: "I finished around 2am this morning. After around the 150 page mark I couldn't put it down. The douen were my favorite part of Tan-Tan's world and I found this article from the Trinidad & Tobago Gua..."

The douen were definitely my favourite part too!
Yes, I think your right about Antonio but still did not make sense to me because by logic, "granny" should have been able to prevent these types of things. I would think..........


Melanti | 2125 comments Mod
Glad you liked it, Leah!

(view spoiler)


message 36: by Leah (new) - rated it 4 stars

Leah (flying_monkeys) | 1009 comments Lila wrote: "Yes, I think your right about Antonio but still did not make sense to me because by logic, "granny" should have been able to prevent these types of things. I would think.........."

I cannot find the specific passage I'm thinking of, but it's mentioned more than once that Granny cannot prevent everything. (view spoiler)

Melanti wrote: "I mean, if you had the choice between being stranded in a wild area with company but zero knowledge and/or supplies, or being stranded with a Robinson-Crusoe-like stash of survival goods, which would you choose?"

(view spoiler)


Melanti | 2125 comments Mod
Leah wrote: "Why wouldn't Granny prevent/stop that? ..."

(view spoiler)


message 38: by Leah (last edited Mar 06, 2017 07:51AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Leah (flying_monkeys) | 1009 comments (view spoiler)


Melanti | 2125 comments Mod
(view spoiler)


Margaret | 3442 comments Mod
I finished this morning. I'm enjoying reading everyone's thoughts!

Things I liked: the dialect, the carnival aspect, the Robber Queen, the douen.

The last third or fourth seemed so much stronger than the beginning to me. (view spoiler)

That was my first Nalo Hopkinson. I definitely enjoyed it enough to read another by her. It was very original.


Margaret | 3442 comments Mod
Robyn wrote: "I also did not think the beginning of the novel connected well to the end. Why have the runner say he's going to follow after Antonio if he isn't going to? The runner brings to my mind the rule about not putting a gun in the first act if it isn't going to go off in the third. It felt like a part of the story was just dropped."

I completely agree. Though I really liked the end, it would've been much stronger if more time were developed with Tan-Tan's recovery and transformation vs. her childhood. And the runner thing did seem like a convoluted way to say sometimes you could do things without Granny knowing.


Melanti | 2125 comments Mod
Yeah, I agree. Less time spent on the early childhood and more spent on the transition would have made for a much better book.

Not that her early childhood world - Granny Nanny, etc - wasn't interesting, but overall it's just not enormously relevant to the last half of the book.


back to top