by Mike Resnick
• Page count: 13
“Kirinyaga” is an award winning 1988 science fiction short story by Mike Resnick. It is about a colony of Kikiru living on a utopian world who are investigated for their religious practices.
The story follows Koriba, the mundumugu of a Kikuru tribe living on the artificial world of Kirinyaga. When he kills a newborn child he believes is a demon, Maintenance (the people who maintain the environment and orbit of Kirinyaga) decide to send an investigator to see if they need to regulate the Kikuru traditions.
This is a story with a very soft science fiction presence: the fact that it takes place on an orbital colony. However, it is the theme about not giving in that really drives this story. Amazingly well written, “Kirinyaga” is a story that will inspire you.
“Kirinyaga” won the 1989 Hugo Award for Best Short Story, the 1989 SF Chronicle Award and placed 20th on the 1999 Locus All-Time Poll for Best Novelette. It was also nominated for the 1989 Nebula Award for Best Short Story as well as the 1989 Locus Award.
To be thrown out of Paradise, as were the Christian Adam and Eve, is a terrible fate, but to live beside a debased Paradise is infinitely worse. I think about them frequently, the descendants of Gikuyu who have forgotten their origin and their traditions and are now merely Kenyans and I wonder why more of them did not join with us when we created the utopian world of Kirinyaga.
True, it is a harsh life, for Ngai never meant life to be easy; but it is also a satisfying life.
Where you can find “Kirinyaga”:
• “Kirinyaga” originally appeared in the November 1988 edition of Fantasy & Science Fiction.
• It is included in Mike Resnick’s collection of Kirinyaga stories, also called Kirinyaga.
• “Kirinyaga” has also been collected in Gardner Dozois’s anthology The Best of the Best: 20 Years of the Year’s Best Science Fiction.
• You can purchase an electronic version of just the short story at Fictionwise.
For a excellent discussion of not only this story, but others in the Kirinyaga series as well, see this post by Scott D. Danielson.
Did you know that Mike Resnick, the author of “Kirinyaga”, sold his first short story in 1959? Yep. You can learn more about this amazing author at Jim Baen’s Universe.
If you like this story you’ll probably enjoy The 43 Antarean Dynasties, the Hugo Award winning short story also by Mike Resnick.