Three strangers, each isolated by his or her own problems: Adaora, the marine biologist. Anthony, the rapper famous throughout Africa. Agu, the troubled soldier. Wandering Bar Beach in Lagos, Nigeria's legendary mega-city, they're more alone than they've ever been before.
But when something like a meteorite plunges into the ocean and a tidal wave overcomes them, these three people will find themselves bound together in ways they could never imagine. Together with Ayodele, a visitor from beyond the stars, they must race through Lagos and against time itself in order to save the city, the world... and themselves.
"There was no time to flee. No time to turn. No time to shriek. And there was no pain. It was like being thrown into the stars."
At the outset of Nnedi Okorafor's new novel, three strangers meet on Bar Beach, "a place of mixing" which provides "a perfect sample of Nigerian society." (p.7) But this evening the sea is uneasy, for from the Gulf of Guinea comes a booming sound so deep that it rattles the teeth of the few who hear it.
Agu is a military man who's been attacked by his ahoa after refusing to stand silently by while his superior officer sexually assaulted a civilian. He's come to the beach to take stock of his situation—as has Adaora, a marine biologist and mother of two whose "loving perfect husband of ten years had hit her. Slapped her really hard. All because of a hip-hop concert and a priest. At first, she'd stood there stunned and hurt, cupping her cheek, praying the children hadn't heard. Then she'd brought her hand up and slapped him right back." (p.8)
The third of our three is the renowned rapper Anthony Dey Craze, who's apparently popped "out for a post-concert stroll." (p.9) He and Adaora and Agu have been drawn, inexorably, to the same spot, where they spend a few seconds exchanging pleasantries before being sucked into the sea... and summarily spat out. But the roiling waters have disgorged something far stranger than they—namely an alien.
You have named me Ayodele. You people will call me an alien because I am from space, your outer heavens, beyond. I am what you all call and ambassador, the first to come and communicate with you people. I was sent. We landed in your waters and have been communicating with other people there and they've been good to us. Now we want your help. (p.37)Adaora doesn't take much convincing, but she knows the world will, so she transports Ayodele to her lab and studies a skin sample which confirms her feelings. Enter her husband, Chris: a born again born again who insists Ayodele is a witch and runs screaming to his preacher when Adaora tells him to take a hike.
Their housekeeper Philo can't keep a secret either. She shoots some footage on her phone and shows it to her boyfriend Moziz, a scam artist who sees in this situation an opportunity to turn a proper profit. He and his friends plan to capture and ransom Ayodele. But one of them is a member of the Black Nexus, a secretive LGBT body whose members imagine Ayodele—who can shapeshift from man to woman at will—will almost certainly accept them, spurring on the world to do so too.
In this way word gets out that there's an alien about, and soon, chaos reigns in Lagos...