The Freedom Race, Lucinda Roy’s explosive first foray into speculative fiction, is a poignant blend of subjugation, resistance, and hope.
In the aftermath of a cataclysmic civil war known as the Sequel, ideological divisions among the states have hardened. In the Homestead Territories, an alliance of plantation-inspired holdings, Black labor is imported from the Cradle, and Biracial “Muleseeds” are bred.
Raised in captivity on Planting 437, kitchen-seed Jellybean “Ji-ji” Lottermule knows there is only one way to escape. She must enter the annual Freedom Race as a runner.
Ji-ji and her friends must exhume a survival story rooted in the collective memory of a kidnapped people and conjure the voices of the dead to light their way home.
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Roy (The Hotel Alleluia) turns to speculative fiction for the first time with this lyrical, Afrofuturist hero's quest set in the not-too-distant future. The "Civil War Sequel" led to the reinstitution of slavery in the Homestead Territories; now plantation owners import Black folks from the Cradle to work and breed multiracial laborers. The spunky Jellybean "Ji-Ji" Lottermule has found a way out: as the fastest runner in Planting 437, she'll compete in the Freedom Race. If she wins, she and her family would be emancipated. But to enter, she must first win her mother's support and get ratified for the race and these tasks prove to be just the first of many hurdles for Ji-Ji. Things get off to a slow start; Roy front-loads the story with extensive background for the "disunited states" and an elaborate lexicon of new racial classifications, creating a steep learning curve for readers. But once the world is established and Ji-Ji's story takes off, her harrowing but profoundly spiritual quest for sovereignty against all odds impresses. Readers who stick with this will appreciate both the tenacious heroine and Roy's intricate prose stylings. \n