The Ear, the Eye and the Arm
||This article's plot summary may be too long or excessively detailed. (October 2009)|
|Genre||Children's, Science fiction novel|
|Media type||Print (Hardcover and Paperback)|
|Pages||311 (first edition, hardback)|
|ISBN||ISBN 0-531-06829-3 (first edition, hardback)|
|LC Class||PZ7.F23814 Ear 1994|
Combining elements of science fiction and African culture, the book depicts the struggle of a notorious general's three children to escape from their kidnappers in the crime-infested capital of Zimbabwe.
In the year 2169, in Zimbabwe, the Chief of Security, General Matsika, leads a battle against the many gangs which terrorize the nation. His three children, Tendai, Rita, and Kuda are kept in a fortified mansion to ensure their security. This soon bores the children, who are part of a Scout troop. Seeking adventure to earn the Scout Badge, they escape the house with the help of the Mellower, a praise singer employed by their parents. The children then find themselves in the busy streets of Mbare Musika, where they are kidnapped and taken to Dead Man's Vlei, the lair of the She Elephant. There, they have to work in the plastic mines.
Their worried parents enlist the help of the Ear, the Eye, and the Arm, three "mutant" detectives from a slum called the Cow's Guts. They all have special abilities: Ear has very powerful and sensitive hearing; Eye has equally powerful and sensitive vision; Arm has extremely long arms and legs, like a spider's. Arm also has empathic powers; he can sense other people's feelings and see into their souls.
Meanwhile, Tendai realizes that the She Elephant is planning to sell them to the Masks, a dangerous gang who have evaded General Matsika's efforts to combat crime. The siblings escape to Resthaven, an independent country within Zimbabwe which aims to retain traditional African culture. Eventually, the children are banished from Resthaven.
While the Masks attempt to sacrifice Tendai as a messenger to the gods. When Arm is knocked out, the mhondoro (and a group of staff and diners from the restaurant downstairs, led by Mrs Matsika) helps Tendai and his friends to temporarily destroy the Big-Head Mask, which had been going to kill Tendai. When the children's parents arrive, the She Elephant crushes the Mask, and the mhondoro revives Arm.
Kirkus Reviews found that "Farmer has created a splendidly imaginative fantasy" while Publishers Weekly wrote "Farmer uses her knowledge of Africa to imagine a city in 23rd-century Zimbabwe, combining old traditions and speculative technology with delightfully entertaining results." and concluded "Farmer is emerging as one of the best and brightest authors for the YA audience."