'Muezzinland' is a tale of pursuit across 22nd-century Africa (or "Aphrica" as it's known in the story), and the struggle for control of the world. American and European civilisation has fallen into decline, and the most powerful person in the world is the Empress of Ghana. Her daughter, Mnada, has gone mad and fled north across the Sahara desert in search of a place called Muezzinland. Mnada's sister Nshalla, with her friend Gmoulaye, sets off on foot to find Mnada and help her, while the Empress tracks them both, hoping to recapture her daughters and seize control of Muezzinland for herself. This takes place against the backdrop of the aether, an ambient information network that is becoming a part of the natural environment itself. A sort of living, interactive Virtual Reality. To call this novel cyberpunk would be misleading - the emphasis is on humanity more than technology, and on African tribal culture and folklore, something not often found in science fiction. "Tribalpunk", maybe? Ghanaian village life, nomadic oasis culture and the bustling cities of Morocco are all here. Several times the plot meshes with West African folk tales, due to the cultural feedback of the aether, and this ends up playing a large part in the plot. Several major revelations are exposed quite early on, which leaves 'Muezzinland' a little lacking in suspense, but the impetus of the characters and the story itself maintains the interest, and the ending is neither blatantly obvious nor pulled out of a hat. Stephen Palmer's lyrical prose is a highlight of the book, sometimes lending it the feel of a folk song, appropriately enough. Moreover, he's clearly done his research into the culture and wildlife to be found in Western Africa, which also helps to anchor the story. 'Muezzinland' is an unusual and highly enjoyable work of future folklore.
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