In the novella Remote Control, by Nnedi Okorafor, the protagonist has the ability to emit a green radiation that is lethal to living creatures. Her power is considerable: she can kill everyone within miles, and at close range, outright incinerate several individuals.

However, at one point in the story, she is menaced by a leopard, which is able to resist her power, even approaching to within mere meters of her before falling down dead. The narration even notes that the leopard should have been turned to ash long before it could approach so close to her.

So why did she struggle so much to kill the leopard? Or alternately, why was the leopard able to resist her power for so long?

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Movenpick her fox companion while wary, was also not affected by her power. This is part of the mystery that brings beauty to Nnedi’s story. And what allows us to escape. (what else is the purpose for reading sci-fi?)

In a University of California television interview with her, she explained how her writing process changed over the years and that she is very selective about what is placed on the page. These are not her words, but what I took from part of the interview. Link to the Writer’s Symposium by the Sea interview:

possible Spoiler alert below? (although I don’t think it’s possible to spoil the story, the prose is too enjoyable)

Also, Sankofa­­‘a power is of the alien seed that was gifted or simply came to her from the stars above. It then drew her to find it when it was taken away. Nnedi does not reveal the underlying power of the seed, but allows the reader to take the journey with Fatima.

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    I though that Movenpick was not affected because she could choose to exclude targets when using her power voluntarily. That is, since she did not want to harm Movenpick, she did not. I thought there was another example of that.... But she clearly did want to defend herself against the leopard. Anyway, while I agree that some degree of mystery can add appeal to SF works, in this case I am interested in resolving this mystery, if there is indeed an answer.
    – Adamant
    Nov 2, 2021 at 19:51
  • yes and then that brings in the questions of the artifact’s energy and her “control” & the larger picture of modern Africa vs. native Africa. Also the invasion aspect of the green glow that she discovers. (don’t want to spoil) These questions are again, the beautiful way that Nnedi expresses the harm that is happening to this world from within and without. It’s very provocative work. Nov 2, 2021 at 19:58

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