It is significant that all of our great religions were born in the face of oppression. Moses led the Israelites from slavery under the Egyptians. Jesus challenged the power of Rome. The Islamic calendar begins with the migration of Muhammad and his followers to escape the persecution of Meccan tribes. Even the awakening of Gautama Buddha came in the midst of unremitting tribalism and warfare. Whatever we feel about religions today, we’ve often found them preferable to the oppression and violence without them in the past.
Alif the Unseen by G Willow Wilson is in part a novel about the need for faith, belief and religion in a technological age. It is also a passionate romance and a delirious urban fantasy. Alif is a hacker who specialises in providing anonymity to clients who might have reason to fear the authorities, from political activists to pornographers. He is “not an ideologue, as far as he was concerned anyone who could pay for his protection was entitled.” He conducts his business in the fantasy precincts of The City, a place like but unlike contemporary Cairo, which author G Willow Wilson has made her home.
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