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Tochi Onyebuchi ’09
Tordotcom, $26.99
Reviewed by Mark Blankenship ’05MFA

Like so many writers in the genre, Onyebuchi uses science fiction to comment on modern society. But his novel Goliath stands out by barely leaving our reality.
The story is set a few decades from now, at a time when destruction of the Earth’s environment has forced most human beings to live on space stations. Yet there are still people on the planet—many of them people of color—and despite the so-called wonders of advanced technology, they’re keenly aware that the same old structures of race, wealth, and power dictate who gets to be truly comfortable.

Onyebuchi wants to make sure we’re aware of it, too. Though he does an admirable amount of world-building, particularly regarding life on the space stations, he also pauses the story multiple times to deliver chapters that read like op-eds about contemporary America. (Some of these chapters are framed as articles written by an intrepid reporter.) Any sensitive reader, however, will be able to glean the sociological point without the blatant assistance. The story of earthlings learning to resist exploitation by people in the sky is resonant enough on its own.

One more note about world-building: the earthbound plotlines largely take place in the remnants of New Haven. Yale grads may be especially interested in how Onyebuchi depicts the city’s future and how he imagines the ongoing manifestations of its economic and racial tensions.