Sunday, October 11, 2020

Review: How Long 'til Black Future Month?

How Long 'til Black Future Month? How Long 'til Black Future Month? by N.K. Jemisin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

"I am writing the stories that I wish someone had written for me when I was younger." - N.K. Jemisin on the video for her fresh and well deserved MacArthur Fellowship. This collection shows so much of the range of the mind of N.K. Jemisin, and I can't wait to see what she does next.

I purchased this book as part of a bundle of speculative fiction by black women writers from Sistah Scifi and I have been reading it since July. I set it beside my working space and would read a story when I needed to take a brain break. Some stories connect to the worlds she has written novels in, while others stand alone. Some are in conversation with previous stories, and some are more of a reflection on the world we know. I can't rate each one individually but overall my experience was five stars.

The links to stories when I can find them is not meant to take away from the sales of this book! Please buy it. But sometimes there are audio versions and sometimes it's nice to re-read a story by listening.

The Ones Who Stay and Fight on Lightspeed Magazine
This is in direct conversation with The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas by Ursula K. Le Guin and if you haven't read that one first, this one just won't make as much sense. It's like the old science fiction short story landscape, or so I've been told, where people wrote them to respond to others. They go together. So I guess the question has become, are you one who walks away, or do you stay and fight? Or do you just... stay?

The City Born Great on
This is the idea that became The City We Became but honestly the voice in this story is my favorite. "Yooooo no." Ha! And with the added layer of homeless/poverty plus Blackness plus the appearance of mental illness for a man wandering the city.

Red Dirt Witch
Witchy ways in Alabama, through dreaming, the coming of the White Woman and future racial strife, lead a mother to make a sacrifice.

A cook gets a new gig. (Listen on EscapePod)

The Effluent Engine (read on Lightspeed Magazine)
Steampunk New Orleans, lady inventors who might have potential for more, Haitian spies, white supremacist secret orgs

Cloud Dragon Skies (read on Strange Horizons)
"I was not so very different from other women. I wanted to be touched with tenderness...I wanted someone to talk to who would ... not think, "How do I control such a woman?" That did not seem so very much to ask, to me. Nor to this strange young man from the sky.

The Trojan Girl (Read on the author's website or listen on EscapePod)
Virtual reality, the perfect girl, amorphous wolves...

The Valedictorian (listen to the story as read by LeVar Burton)
This is a followup story to The Trojan Girl, a bit later in time.

The Storyteller's Replacement
Men and virility, daughters and dragons. (2019 Locus Award Finalist)

The Brides of Heaven
Well *that's* an interesting interpretation of a first contact story.

The Evaluators
When the first crew disappears, a new inquiry is captured through reports and interview transcriptions and the reader helps figure it out too.

Walking Awake (on Lightspeed Magazine)
Examines complicity and complacency in a earth where humans are bred for their alien masters.

The Elevator Dancer
A very short story about freedom.

Cuisine des Mémoires (read by Levar Burton)
A restaurant in New Orleans that can recreate any meal. (2019 Locus Award Finalist)

Stone Hunger (listen to the audio on Clarkesworld Magazine)
In the world of the Broken Earth trilogy, and simultaneous with part of it.

On the Banks of the River Lex (On Clarkesworld Magazine)
"So Death walked into town every day."
A post-human world filled with the beings known to humans, but also the rest of the biological landscape. Also very New York.

The Narcomancer (audio from PodCastle
Originally written as proof of concept for the world of the Dreaming Moon, which might be my favorite of Jemisin's universes. You can read more about that process and her thinking in this interview.

Henosis (available at Uncanny Magazine)
A brief story about the price of fame, and what sets your legacy.

Too Many Yesterdays, Not Enough Tomorrows
Something has happened to reset the world every day, except the virtual world, which is where continuity is found among a group of people who can only interact that way. (I have many questions.)

The You Train (listen on YouTube
I'm positive this came from daydreaming while waiting for a train!

Non-Zero Probabilities (read on Clarkesworld Magazine)
Basically the author predicted the outside of probability 2020. Ha.

Sinners, Saints, Dragons, and Haints, in the City Under the Still Waters (read it at Uncanny Magazine
Katrina or a Katrina-like hurricane, and a man encounters different creatures in the aftermath.

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