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Broken Places & Outer Spaces: Finding Creativity in the Unexpected

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A powerful journey from star athlete to sudden paralysis to creative awakening, award-winning science fiction writer Nnedi Okorafor shows that what we think are our limitations have the potential to become our greatest strengths. Nnedi Okorafor was never supposed to be paralyzed. A college track star and budding entomologist, Nnedi’s lifelong battle with scoliosis was just A powerful journey from star athlete to sudden paralysis to creative awakening, award-winning science fiction writer Nnedi Okorafor shows that what we think are our limitations have the potential to become our greatest strengths. Nnedi Okorafor was never supposed to be paralyzed. A college track star and budding entomologist, Nnedi’s lifelong battle with scoliosis was just a bump in her plan—something a simple operation would easily correct. But when Nnedi wakes from the surgery to find she can’t move her legs, her entire sense of self begins to waver. Confined to a hospital bed for months, unusual things begin to happen. Psychedelic bugs crawl her hospital walls; strange dreams visit her nightly. Nnedi begins to put these experiences into writing, conjuring up strange, fantastical stories. What Nnedi discovers during her confinement would prove to be the key to her life as a successful science fiction author: In science fiction, when something breaks, something greater often emerges from the cracks. In Broken Places & Outer Spaces, Nnedi takes the reader on a journey from her hospital bed deep into her memories, from her painful first experiences with racism as a child in Chicago to her powerful visits to her parents’ hometown in Nigeria. From Frida Kahlo to Mary Shelly, she examines great artists and writers who have pushed through their limitations, using hardship to fuel their work. Through these compelling stories and her own, Nnedi reveals a universal truth: What we perceive as limitations have the potential to become our greatest strengths—far greater than when we were unbroken. A guidebook for anyone eager to understand how their limitations might actually be used as a creative springboard, Broken Places & Outer Spaces is an inspiring look at how to open up new windows in your mind.


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A powerful journey from star athlete to sudden paralysis to creative awakening, award-winning science fiction writer Nnedi Okorafor shows that what we think are our limitations have the potential to become our greatest strengths. Nnedi Okorafor was never supposed to be paralyzed. A college track star and budding entomologist, Nnedi’s lifelong battle with scoliosis was just A powerful journey from star athlete to sudden paralysis to creative awakening, award-winning science fiction writer Nnedi Okorafor shows that what we think are our limitations have the potential to become our greatest strengths. Nnedi Okorafor was never supposed to be paralyzed. A college track star and budding entomologist, Nnedi’s lifelong battle with scoliosis was just a bump in her plan—something a simple operation would easily correct. But when Nnedi wakes from the surgery to find she can’t move her legs, her entire sense of self begins to waver. Confined to a hospital bed for months, unusual things begin to happen. Psychedelic bugs crawl her hospital walls; strange dreams visit her nightly. Nnedi begins to put these experiences into writing, conjuring up strange, fantastical stories. What Nnedi discovers during her confinement would prove to be the key to her life as a successful science fiction author: In science fiction, when something breaks, something greater often emerges from the cracks. In Broken Places & Outer Spaces, Nnedi takes the reader on a journey from her hospital bed deep into her memories, from her painful first experiences with racism as a child in Chicago to her powerful visits to her parents’ hometown in Nigeria. From Frida Kahlo to Mary Shelly, she examines great artists and writers who have pushed through their limitations, using hardship to fuel their work. Through these compelling stories and her own, Nnedi reveals a universal truth: What we perceive as limitations have the potential to become our greatest strengths—far greater than when we were unbroken. A guidebook for anyone eager to understand how their limitations might actually be used as a creative springboard, Broken Places & Outer Spaces is an inspiring look at how to open up new windows in your mind.

30 review for Broken Places & Outer Spaces: Finding Creativity in the Unexpected

  1. 5 out of 5

    Gretchen Rubin

    I love Okorafor's fiction, and was always curious to learn more about her life, so I was thrilled to get the chance to read this memoir. Short and powerful.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Britta Böhler

    Some interesting thoughts on creativity but the book was way to short (112 pages) to develop any of them in depth. 2.5*

  3. 4 out of 5

    Vanessa Halls

    A quick and inspiring read. Okorafor's lush literary style is on full display, and every page packed a punch. It's not everyday you get such a brutally honest and intimate offering from one of your favorite authors, and not every author can produce nonfiction this lovely. I feel very privileged to have gotten to read this arc. It only cemented my certainty that Nnedi Okorafor is one of my favorite human beings on this planet.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Donna

    A Ted talk memoir of how the author coped with being paralyzed. Just based on her fiction, I knew Nnedi Okorafor was an amazing person. I enjoy her way of looking at living with a different slant, partially based on her background and visits with her family to Nigeria, and partially (I see now) due to the difficult fight she had to regain the use of her legs when a scoliosis surgery leaves her paralyzed. I don't feel the short Ted talk format let this memoir breathe enough to really reach a grea A Ted talk memoir of how the author coped with being paralyzed. Just based on her fiction, I knew Nnedi Okorafor was an amazing person. I enjoy her way of looking at living with a different slant, partially based on her background and visits with her family to Nigeria, and partially (I see now) due to the difficult fight she had to regain the use of her legs when a scoliosis surgery leaves her paralyzed. I don't feel the short Ted talk format let this memoir breathe enough to really reach a great place. This was more like the sharing of facts, with a bare outline of how it affected her. I didn't feel like I understood her in my gut, just my head. I was a little concerned by the implication that you need to be 'broken' in order to be able to grow stronger and be creative. One neat fact I got out of this is finally understanding 'treeing' (which shows up in her Binti novellas). Apparently it's a tennis term for heightened awareness, and refers to "...when you are playing out of your mind, when you can do no wrong, when you can make the universe yield to your every whim."

  5. 5 out of 5

    Kingtchalla83

    "What we perceive as limitations have the potential to become strengths greater than what we had when we were “normal” or unbroken. In much of science fiction, when something breaks, something greater often emerges from the cracks." pg 5 🦗 🦗 🦗 Nnedi Okorafor's works are a tour de force. When I found out she would be publishing a memoir I didn't even read the blurb. Okorafor recounts paralysis from the waist down as a result of a "simple" operation for scoliosis, which runs in her family. Ultimately, "What we perceive as limitations have the potential to become strengths greater than what we had when we were “normal” or unbroken. In much of science fiction, when something breaks, something greater often emerges from the cracks." pg 5 🦗 🦗 🦗 Nnedi Okorafor's works are a tour de force. When I found out she would be publishing a memoir I didn't even read the blurb. Okorafor recounts paralysis from the waist down as a result of a "simple" operation for scoliosis, which runs in her family. Ultimately, this leads her to self-reflection and exploration of an untapped fertile imagination. She begins to journal, dream, write and changes her major to creative writing. Charting a path that transformed her existence inside and out. 🦗 🦗 🦗 There is power imbued in the written word. "Broken Places, Outer Spaces" resonated within the marrow of my bones, plasma of my blood and hidden crevices of my soul. I understand the before and after metamorphosis of a body no longer functioning like "before." Within that stillness a quiet death and rebirth occur. This chrysalis of rebirth is uncertain and lonely, but prepares the mind for the new "after" body. I too fantasized about the possibility of cybernetic enhancements be like "before." At one point I called myself The Six Million Dollar Man. My imagination ran wild along with my emotions. But she picked herself up like myself and became something greater. 2029 here I come! 🦗 🦗 🦗 🦗 ✊🏿✊🏿✊🏿✊🏿✊🏿 5 fists

  6. 5 out of 5

    Margaret

    This book speaks to me on so many levels. As a disabled woman who didn't receive a diagnosis until more than a decade after my health problems surfaced, it's been a process of looking back to see where and how my life changed--became broken and rearranged. Because Okorafor's disability occurs so suddenly and dramatically, she's able to make connections that I hadn't thought to make about myself. Despite my almost thirty years of living with this disability, I now see it differently. I highly rec This book speaks to me on so many levels. As a disabled woman who didn't receive a diagnosis until more than a decade after my health problems surfaced, it's been a process of looking back to see where and how my life changed--became broken and rearranged. Because Okorafor's disability occurs so suddenly and dramatically, she's able to make connections that I hadn't thought to make about myself. Despite my almost thirty years of living with this disability, I now see it differently. I highly recommend reading this slim memoir about finding creativity within a life-altering disability.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Cortney

    3.25 A brief look into her struggles with learning to walk again after being temporarily paralyzed from surgery and how it spurred her creativity.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Rana

    A short little peek into the head (and body) of a favorite writer. Would love to see more of these long-format essays in book form.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Lekeisha The Booknerd

    I've long since said that Nnedi isn't from this world. She is a creative goddess from some unknown dimension. I love her Binti trilogy, and am slowly acquiring her other titles so that I can go on a binge read. I wanted to read this to get to know an author that I love. This Ted Talk is short but filled with inspiration. Nnedi goes deep into her brush with paralysis and finding her space. I've often read about when people are at their worst that they find creativity from that pain. Nnedi disclose I've long since said that Nnedi isn't from this world. She is a creative goddess from some unknown dimension. I love her Binti trilogy, and am slowly acquiring her other titles so that I can go on a binge read. I wanted to read this to get to know an author that I love. This Ted Talk is short but filled with inspiration. Nnedi goes deep into her brush with paralysis and finding her space. I've often read about when people are at their worst that they find creativity from that pain. Nnedi discloses some glimpses into that part of her life. Also, if you follow Nnedi Bug (ha! that's what I call her in my mind) on Social Media, then you know of her love for the beautiful creepy crawlies. More incite on that in the pages. Overall, this was a quick read from a writer who found her creativity through a period in her life when she thought that her life was over. Great read!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Christen

    I fell in love with Binti last year. I honestly knew nothing about the author other than I should really read more of her stuff. I really enjoyed hearing Ms. Okorafor's stories of how and why she began telling her stories. I also appreciated the reference to related TED talks at the end of the book. This is a great story about resilience. Bad things happen to everyone, some things worse than others. Some things more lasting than others. I truly had never thought about how I know where my body is I fell in love with Binti last year. I honestly knew nothing about the author other than I should really read more of her stuff. I really enjoyed hearing Ms. Okorafor's stories of how and why she began telling her stories. I also appreciated the reference to related TED talks at the end of the book. This is a great story about resilience. Bad things happen to everyone, some things worse than others. Some things more lasting than others. I truly had never thought about how I know where my body is until I read about someone who does not know. I am glad it spurred her to write stories wondering "what if" about her characters. A very worthwhile and short read. Enjoy.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Rae

    I know Nnedi said she'd written and rewritten and edited down this book - but I for one would have read three times as much. Her story was written so engagingly and I loved how it jumps in time from her accident to 2029 - I for one look forward to that year much more now that I might have otherwise. This is a mini-biography around how Nnedi started writing and I found it fascinating as well as her decision around what kind of Science Fiction she was going to write. (And boy is that SF excellent). I know Nnedi said she'd written and rewritten and edited down this book - but I for one would have read three times as much. Her story was written so engagingly and I loved how it jumps in time from her accident to 2029 - I for one look forward to that year much more now that I might have otherwise. This is a mini-biography around how Nnedi started writing and I found it fascinating as well as her decision around what kind of Science Fiction she was going to write. (And boy is that SF excellent). It's a quick read too.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Hannah

    I listened to the audiobook version (read by the author) and I was actually shocked by how short it was: even shorter than novellas like Binti. If you are familiar with Nnedi Okorafor's fiction, there are lots of Easter eggs in here, - including the concept of treeing. For everyone else, in addition to a personal memoir about finding one's new calling (and college major!) against the backdrop of botched surgery, there are also references to pop culture like Kill Bill. I passed this one along to my I listened to the audiobook version (read by the author) and I was actually shocked by how short it was: even shorter than novellas like Binti. If you are familiar with Nnedi Okorafor's fiction, there are lots of Easter eggs in here, - including the concept of treeing. For everyone else, in addition to a personal memoir about finding one's new calling (and college major!) against the backdrop of botched surgery, there are also references to pop culture like Kill Bill. I passed this one along to my dad since two of his go-to subjects lately have been scoliosis devices and Kill Bill and he really needs to branch out more. I am also left wondering why giant insects haven't shown up more in her books I've read.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Laura Hoffman Brauman

    Nnedi Okorafor is an auto-buy author for me -- I love her work. This is a TED talk she did regarding her personal experiences when she was a college student and athlete and a surgery for scoliosis left her paralyzed. During the grueling experience of learning how to walk again and how to adapt to the reality of continuing issues with proprioception, she began to write as a way to cope -- and out of her broken place, she worked hard and developed an incredible ability to tell riveting stories.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Marzie

    Acclaimed author Nnedi Okorafor's moving account of her experience with paralysis following scoliosis surgery at nineteen sheds insight into so much of her work. From her love of insects to her frightening experiences with racism while growing up in Chicago, you can find traces of her experiences in her Akata Witch series and her Binti novella trilogy. A fascinating and poignant account of a life-defining, if terrifying, experience.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Kirsti

    Brief, focused memoir on the author's botched surgery that led to paralysis. Okorafor describes how this hardship led her to become a science fiction writer. She prefers the term Africanfuturism to Afrofuturism to emphasize that the SF has its base in Africa itself and African lore rather than in the African diaspora.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Ashley

    If you’re a fan of Nnedi Okorafor’s fiction then you NEED to read this! It’s add such a deeper understanding to her work and her story is so inspiring. She is an awesome woman and author. Loved this and I was even okay with the fact that I was so short!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Sierra

    Love it.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Richard

    You may hold this against me but I do not care to know about the private lives of authors, actors, or athletes that I follow. I focus on their work. What they do in their private lives does not effect me or my enjoyment of their work, unless they gain headlines by doing something totally egregious. I love Nnedi Okorafor’s writing. She combines science fiction with African history and culture in a unique and empowering way. Her characters work through their trials and come out better and stronger You may hold this against me but I do not care to know about the private lives of authors, actors, or athletes that I follow. I focus on their work. What they do in their private lives does not effect me or my enjoyment of their work, unless they gain headlines by doing something totally egregious. I love Nnedi Okorafor’s writing. She combines science fiction with African history and culture in a unique and empowering way. Her characters work through their trials and come out better and stronger in the end. They are all mentally tough - tried by fire and fused into steel. So, when Nnedi Okorafor published a book about her life and problems with scoliosis, surgery, and paralysis you would think that I would have passed it by. Instead I put in for an advance purchase of the Ebook, unable to wait for my library to get in a copy. I can only explain this by the fact that I have found Nnedi’s characters so powerful that I needed some insight into who their creator was and how she got that way. This is a very short book in number of pages but, like still waters, the story and message it contains runs very deep. It is a story of a young woman who is thrown one of life’s biggest curves, it is the about her pain and anger, it is about helpful friends and family, and it is about climbing out of a deep, deep well to emerge stronger and more self aware at the top. As Nnedi puts it, “as I grew older, and after my experience with paralysis opened my mind wider, I began to observe and understand more.” This is not a woman who made lemonade out of lemons but a woman who has merged two cultures into a series of science fiction books that are full of doubt, self-reflection, growth, struggle, and emergence. Her books are about not only pushing back at adversity but powering through it to emerge changed, better, and more powerful than ever. After reading this book I understand so much more about how Nnedi has come to be the writer that she is and how she is able to write the books that she does. Perhaps I will have to learn more about the lives of the powerful WNBA players that I follow, authors that I read, and the actors that I like. Maybe knowing more about them will help me to understand their works at a deeper level. This book certainly has given me some more insight and understanding of Nnedi’s creations and I highly recommend it.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Katherine

    When author Nnedi Okorafor was younger, she had severe scoliosis. Once its progression worsened to a point where surgical correction was needed, she was brought in to have some of her vertebrae fused and a steel rod implanted to help correct the curvature of her spine. The doctors assured her that there was a small chance of anything going wrong. But Nnedi woke up from that surgery without any feeling in her legs, and she spent years fighting back against that partial paralysis to be able to wal When author Nnedi Okorafor was younger, she had severe scoliosis. Once its progression worsened to a point where surgical correction was needed, she was brought in to have some of her vertebrae fused and a steel rod implanted to help correct the curvature of her spine. The doctors assured her that there was a small chance of anything going wrong. But Nnedi woke up from that surgery without any feeling in her legs, and she spent years fighting back against that partial paralysis to be able to walk again. On the road to recovery, Nnedi realized her world views had changed, her beliefs forever altered by this life-shaking event. She turned to science fiction writing to explore her feelings about her new body, her struggles, and the things she believed about the world. Along the way, she found a way to be at peace with herself and to make a new future that enveloped all she now believed. Broken Places & Outer Spaces is the companion novel to a TED talk by author Nnedi Okorafor. Now a proclaimed and prolific science fiction writer, Nnedi once was on a path to becoming a scientist herself. Her paralysis changed everything, and fighting back to regain control of her body put her back in control of her life, albeit with a different direction than before. Her openness and honesty in this book is comforting, it draws the reader in and makes her story one of intrigue and possibility, not one of despair. From this tragic event, Nnedi creates herself anew and uses her writing to imagine the world as it could be, a world full of possibility beyond any modern physical limitations. I enjoyed her story and her closeness in this book, her writing makes you feel as if you’re the only person she’s talking to- even though the opposite, with her far-reaching fan base, is true. If you’ve enjoyed her writing, don’t skip this book. It’s an inspiring, insightful look into the ways we can overcome even the most dire circumstances and reshape ourselves to become stronger and better than even before.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Chris Blocker

    I'm sure the intended audience of Broken Places & Outer Spaces is fans of Nnedi Okorafor's fiction. Though Okorafor is one of many authors whose work I hope to get around to, I have yet to make that journey with her. So perhaps, by not being familiar with her work prior to reading this short volume, I have missed out on something I might have otherwise enjoyed. If only one could know these things ahead of time... I decided to read Broken Places & Outer Spaces because I thought it would be I'm sure the intended audience of Broken Places & Outer Spaces is fans of Nnedi Okorafor's fiction. Though Okorafor is one of many authors whose work I hope to get around to, I have yet to make that journey with her. So perhaps, by not being familiar with her work prior to reading this short volume, I have missed out on something I might have otherwise enjoyed. If only one could know these things ahead of time... I decided to read Broken Places & Outer Spaces because I thought it would be an inspirational and eye-opening look at the creative process. I was looking for something to spark my own creativity. Unfortunately, Broken Places & Outer Spaces doesn't offer much in this regard. Instead, what it offers is a very honest and articulate look at Okorafor's struggles related to a surgery that left her paralyzed for some time, a paralysis that detoured her from the path she had chosen, to that of being a writer. Okorafor's ordeal is written about with such painful candor and splendid prose. It's a very well-written account of this time in her life, and in that regard, the book succeeds. But as anything else, it falls flat. If other parts of Okorafor's life had been explored, or if she'd put as much heart and soul into her transformation as a writer, I think this book would've worked for me. It's a wonderful account of the loss and grief one experiences from a life-changing event, but it's only one chapter in the author's life and Broken Places & Outer Spaces feels like only one long chapter in a much bigger book.

  21. 4 out of 5

    BookTrib.com

    Living life with a disability is never easy, and Nnedi Okorafor paints an incredible picture of how difficult her life became after her surgery gone wrong. She was destined to be the next star athlete, the next best doctor. But being paralyzed was never a part of her plan. In Broken Places & Outer Spaces (TED Books), Nnedi uses imagery to create a beautiful portrait of her struggles throughout her life. With her family being from Africa and also being the first African-American family in her Living life with a disability is never easy, and Nnedi Okorafor paints an incredible picture of how difficult her life became after her surgery gone wrong. She was destined to be the next star athlete, the next best doctor. But being paralyzed was never a part of her plan. In Broken Places & Outer Spaces (TED Books), Nnedi uses imagery to create a beautiful portrait of her struggles throughout her life. With her family being from Africa and also being the first African-American family in her neighborhood, she endured countless moments of racism and bigotry. Nnedi shows exactly how she is one of the strongest people, despite the problems had to endure. Nnedi took her experiences and made them benefit her in any way she could. There was nothing else she could do but fight back with all her strength and show that she was better than the bullies in her path. The best part about this book is that it is entirely raw and emotional. Nnedi does not hold back from expressing exactly how she felt in the most difficult moments. She talks about her anger, hurt, and confusion. You can feel her emotions radiate right out of the page. Nnedi has to go through something that not everyone has to experience. She went in for routine surgery and came out with a worse problem than she had. Going from having scoliosis to being paralyzed seems like an awful trade-off, but Nnedi was able to keep hold of what little optimism she had left in order to persevere. The rest of the review: https://booktrib.com/2019/06/overcomi...

  22. 5 out of 5

    Mary

    Ms. Okorafor is one of my favorite authors. I've enjoyed her science fiction stories and when I learned that she had a book coming out talking about how she got started writing science fiction I went online and pre-ordered it. She writes about her journey as an athlete who has scoliosis and needs surgery to correct it. The surgery doesn't go well and her belief in science is shaken. Readers will learn that not only is Ms. Okorafor an amazingly talented writer but also so incredibly strong. Not j Ms. Okorafor is one of my favorite authors. I've enjoyed her science fiction stories and when I learned that she had a book coming out talking about how she got started writing science fiction I went online and pre-ordered it. She writes about her journey as an athlete who has scoliosis and needs surgery to correct it. The surgery doesn't go well and her belief in science is shaken. Readers will learn that not only is Ms. Okorafor an amazingly talented writer but also so incredibly strong. Not just in surviving but in the manner in which she deals with her life. The cover is not one that is eye-catching but I actually think it makes sense - the sparse, blue background with the clean font and that creative ampersand was definitely how I felt about her writing style which, at least to me, is indicative of her fiction as well: just enough words to pull you in, with a bit of style throughout.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Tanya

    This was actually a rather difficult read for me. I've had the same surgery as Nnedi, although it was 17 years after she had hers. I had become paralyzed with my surgery as well, though with the help of technology I did not wake up paralyzed. I also had the unfortunate problem of dealing with more pain and issues after the surgery then before. But this book did bring back a lot of memories and feelings. So with my history, without a doubt, I can say that Nnedi is an incredibly strong and unique h This was actually a rather difficult read for me. I've had the same surgery as Nnedi, although it was 17 years after she had hers. I had become paralyzed with my surgery as well, though with the help of technology I did not wake up paralyzed. I also had the unfortunate problem of dealing with more pain and issues after the surgery then before. But this book did bring back a lot of memories and feelings. So with my history, without a doubt, I can say that Nnedi is an incredibly strong and unique human being. There are regular human beings that just try to survive what life throws at them. Then there are superheroes that take the worst life has to throw at them and do something extraordinary with it. As far as the writing goes, she managed to cram a lot into such a small book but because of that the I wasn't a huge fan of the flow of the book. If she were able to write this as a longer book (and if I wasn't so emotionally affected) I probably would have enjoyed the book more.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Nanette

    Nnedi Okorafor is a fascinating woman, and this book explores her beginnings and growth as a writer. It's a quick read, and will be interesting to her fans as well as to readers who are interested in the creative process. Her resilience and determination are exceptional. My only (minor) quibble is that I wanted more, especially about the intersection of Nigerian culture with the science fiction worlds that she creates. She starts to touch on it toward the end of the book...and then the book ends Nnedi Okorafor is a fascinating woman, and this book explores her beginnings and growth as a writer. It's a quick read, and will be interesting to her fans as well as to readers who are interested in the creative process. Her resilience and determination are exceptional. My only (minor) quibble is that I wanted more, especially about the intersection of Nigerian culture with the science fiction worlds that she creates. She starts to touch on it toward the end of the book...and then the book ends. Also, I get way too excited when interesting people write about growing up in the southern suburbs of Chicago. I was hoping that I'd be able to pull out a "I was in the same room as Nnedi Okorafor when we were in high school..." but it's unlikely that it happened. Alas, no teenage-brush-with-future-greatness for me.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Dan Trefethen

    This short book accompanies a TED talk that Nnedi gave about her experience in losing the ability to feel her legs after a botched surgery to fix her scoliosis. A star athlete in high school, the surgery at 19 changed her life forever. While she regained her ability to walk, she still suffers from the results of the surgery. However, the Breaking (as she calls it) drove her to focus on writing, and she went on to find her calling in writing Africanfuturism (her coinage), winning awards in scienc This short book accompanies a TED talk that Nnedi gave about her experience in losing the ability to feel her legs after a botched surgery to fix her scoliosis. A star athlete in high school, the surgery at 19 changed her life forever. While she regained her ability to walk, she still suffers from the results of the surgery. However, the Breaking (as she calls it) drove her to focus on writing, and she went on to find her calling in writing Africanfuturism (her coinage), winning awards in science fiction and winning fans worldwide. An amazing story. See the TED talk, then read the book for the full story.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Violeta

    I hadn’t heard of Nnedi Okorafor before picking up this book, and I don’t normally read sci-fi, but I do often read medical-ish creative nonfiction, and that’s how this book came to my attention. Okorafor’s writing is fierce and beautifully other, particularly in the sections when she is writing about the pain and recovery she undergoes after a scoliosis correction surgery leaves her temporarily paralyzed. I only wished Broken Places, Outer Spaces had been longer, to dive more deeply into some of I hadn’t heard of Nnedi Okorafor before picking up this book, and I don’t normally read sci-fi, but I do often read medical-ish creative nonfiction, and that’s how this book came to my attention. Okorafor’s writing is fierce and beautifully other, particularly in the sections when she is writing about the pain and recovery she undergoes after a scoliosis correction surgery leaves her temporarily paralyzed. I only wished Broken Places, Outer Spaces had been longer, to dive more deeply into some of Okorafor’s sub-themes, and hear more about the second half of her creative evolution- her time in Nigeria.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Lorette

    A TedBook, so intentionally short, it almost reads like a Young Adult book. The challenges with which we struggle the most can be the source of our strengths and gifts - indeed our superpowers, as is the case with this writer, who was paralyzed as a young adult after surgery to correct scoliosis. A gifted athlete before the surgery, the author asks Who am I if I can't run? Running and body confidence were part of her identity, and a source of self preservation and safety at times. While she does A TedBook, so intentionally short, it almost reads like a Young Adult book. The challenges with which we struggle the most can be the source of our strengths and gifts - indeed our superpowers, as is the case with this writer, who was paralyzed as a young adult after surgery to correct scoliosis. A gifted athlete before the surgery, the author asks Who am I if I can't run? Running and body confidence were part of her identity, and a source of self preservation and safety at times. While she does regain the ability to walk, she is changed, and with that change comes - an awakening? an unveiling? a discovery? of her creative, sci-fi self.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan

    If you are a fan of Nnedi Okorafor - and no self-respecting science fiction fan can claim not to be - then this is a real prize. I read the Binti series and a few short stories without the benefit of knowing much about the author’s personal story. It was a bit mind blowing to read this autobiography on the heels of finishing the third Binti book, and realizing the foundation for so much of her themes of alienation and personal change. Not to mention the fact that she evolves the genre beyond its If you are a fan of Nnedi Okorafor - and no self-respecting science fiction fan can claim not to be - then this is a real prize. I read the Binti series and a few short stories without the benefit of knowing much about the author’s personal story. It was a bit mind blowing to read this autobiography on the heels of finishing the third Binti book, and realizing the foundation for so much of her themes of alienation and personal change. Not to mention the fact that she evolves the genre beyond its roots...

  29. 4 out of 5

    Hannah (Peevey) Way

    I love her other books and novellas; so, this was pretty disappointing in comparison. It was under 100 pages and wasn’t really cohesive in terms of her own story and journey. I have seen her speak in person and she is so captivating and firm in her convictions. Some of her comments in this (about healthcare professionals) cane off really bitter, and did not seem to add to the story. It just did not do it for me.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Fiore

    A concise look at what brought Okorafor into writing when she could no longer follow the path she had for her life before "The Breaking". The only part that seemed a little off was the view that a better life couldn't have existed given a different trajectory. But she does mention others, like Hugh Herr, who continued the same passion prior to his loss. Comforting how different people experience life shattering events and can come away to make something more.

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