No Soft Edges: Rosewater by Tade Thompson

Rosewater Tade Thompson book review

Rosewater is award-winning author Tade Thompson’s second novel. A science fiction novel—part near-future thriller, part post-first-contact story—set in Nigeria, it’s a fast, tense, pacy, interesting book. First published in 2016 by a small press outfit, it’s now been picked up by Orbit and given a wider release as the opening volume of a trilogy.

At first glance, Rosewaters setting, its mixture of mysticism and science, and its overall themes—communication, trust, the unknowable alien and irreversible transformations—recalls the work of another award-winning author of Nigerian extraction: Nnedi Okorafor’s acclaimed Lagoon (Hodder, 2014; Saga Press, 2016). But in terms of structure, characterisation, and tone, Rosewaters an entirely different beast. It reminds me a little of Elizabeth Bear’s Jenny Casey trilogy, and a little, too, of Ian McDonald. It’s not really into soft edges.

An alien biodome established itself in Nigeria in the 2050s. By 2066, the year in ...