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Sorry, I don't have a lot of information about these stories, other than what I remember of their content. I read them in English, but the character names are definitely not traditional English names, so it is possible the stories were translated. I think they were published individually, and then perhaps collected together later, as I think I read a couple of them individually in separate anthologies, before I clued in that they were really a set of connected stories. I read them at least 30 years ago, and don't recall seeing any of them recently. There might be as many as a dozen of the stories, but it is also possible that there were only half that. I remember plot elements of only 3 of the stories, but I also recall my delight when I discovered it was a series.

They were about a group of people of a particular, but I think unidentified, ethnicity who lived in an isolated community--isolated both by physical location and by choosing to cut off communication with the rest of society. They live a subsistence lifestyle and keep to the beliefs/customs of their ancestors--not so much a religion as a culture as a whole. They live in what we would consider a primitive fashion--no technology, including transportation, communication, and medical care--and I think have a hunting and gathering lifestyle. Their customs include ceremonies that mark various stages of life, and some beliefs that we would not accept. One of the stories is about the birth of twins and the family is supposed to kill one of them immediately, due to a belief about twins being evil or wrong in some way (maybe only one soul between the two of them, or one of them is thought to be animated by an evil spirit?).

The stories are told from the point of view of an elder or leader of the group, and I believe he was educated in, and is their point of contact with, the outside world--since I have a feeling the story about the twins turns out not horribly, I think maybe he finds a way to remove the twin from their community without killing it. The narrator, due to his exposure to the outside world, has a sort of paternalistic attitude of being the one who guides and 'looks after' the community due to his superior knowledge/experience outside the community. He expresses regret about some of the less desirable things that happen in this community because they have chosen not to have access to technology and modern information (medically preventable deaths or conditions, people denied opportunities due to gender-prescribed roles and lack of educational opportunities) but feels that it is an acceptable trade-off in order to preserve their culture.

One of the stories is about a married couple who apply and are accepted to join the community and the problems they have trying to adapt. In particular the woman finds it difficult to assume her "proper" role as a silent, obedient wife who does not challenge or question men. This causes problems both for her and her husband, as the community feels that she needs to be punished for her inappropriate forwardness and he needs to be forced to make her behave. They eventually give up and return to the outer world.

This community may or may not be on Earth, as I seem to recall an ironic revelation at one point that the physical setting of their "primitive" community can only exist due to some rather sophisticated technology to control the environment, for which the narrator is the interface with the rest of society.

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  • The English word "isolationist" refers to a certain political tendency or philosophy. I don't think that's what you mean. Maybe the word you were looking for is "reclusive".
    – user14111
    May 6, 2022 at 10:35
  • 1
    @user14111: I think "isolationist" describes this group very well.
    – TonyK
    May 6, 2022 at 17:21

1 Answer 1

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Mike Resnick's Kirinyaga series

They were about a group of people of a particular, but I think unidentified, ethnicity who lived in an isolated community--isolated both by physical location and by choosing to cut off communication with the rest of society. They live a subsistence lifestyle and keep to the beliefs/customs of their ancestors--not so much a religion as a culture as a whole. They live in what we would consider a primitive fashion--no technology, including transportation, communication, and medical care--and I think have a hunting and gathering lifestyle

In Kenya, a son argues with his father whether it is possible to adopt European conveniences and customs and still be a true Kikuyu, the dominant native tribe. The father will be the mundumugu (witch doctor) for the new Kikuyu society on a terraformed planetoid named Kirinyaga.

The stories are told from the point of view of an elder or leader of the group, and I believe he was educated in, and is their point of contact with, the outside world

It is a series of parables about one man's attempt to preserve traditional African culture on a terraformed utopia

One of the stories is about the birth of twins and the family is supposed to kill one of them immediately, due to a belief about twins being evil or wrong in some way

Kirinyaga—Koriba kills a newborn child because traditional beliefs dictate that it is a demon. He must then convince Maintenance, the people who maintain the environment and regulate the orbit of the planetoid Kirinyaga, not to interfere with their traditions, no matter how much they dislike them

One of the stories is about a married couple who apply and are accepted to join the community and the problems they have trying to adapt. In particular the woman finds it difficult to assume her "proper" role as a silent, obedient wife who does not challenge or question men. This causes problems both for her and her husband, as the community feels that she needs to be punished for her inappropriate forwardness and he needs to be forced to make her behave. They eventually give up and return to the outer world.

A married couple immigrate to Kirinyaga. Although they try to assimilate, they bring modern ideas that conflict with traditional Kikuyu culture. Can a utopia evolve?

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  • Also "The Manamouki—A married couple immigrate to Kirinyaga. Although they try to assimilate, they bring modern ideas that conflict with traditional Kikuyu culture. Can a utopia evolve?"
    – DavidW
    May 5, 2022 at 18:12
  • I'll add that later today - thanks
    – Andrew
    May 5, 2022 at 18:22

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