How Long ’Til Black Future Month?
N.K. Jemisin. Orbit, $26 (416p) ISBN 978-0-316-49134-1
In 22 powerful and mind-expanding stories, several of which appear for the first time here, Hugo winner Jemisin (The Stone Sky) pushes boundaries, experiments with format and theme, and challenges expectations. While her tales span science fiction and fantasy, certain themes of defiance, feminism, and self-acceptance shine through no matter what the setting or premise. A king devours a dragon’s heart to restore his virility in “The Storyteller’s Replacement,” only to experience unexpected consequences. A gifted chef is challenged to test new recipes by a mysterious benefactor in “L’Alchimista.” In “The Effluent Engine,” a Haitian spy meets her match in an American inventor. In “Walking Awake,” a tale inspired by Robert A. Heinlein’s The Puppet Masters, a woman enslaved by parasitic aliens is given a chance to both avenge and free humankind. Throughout these stories, Jemisin’s versatility is on full display, giving her diverse protagonists numerous chances to shine. Though not every story will resonate with every reader, there’s something in this collection for just about everyone, and many of the works are memorable gems. Those who only know Jemisin for her groundbreaking novels will be impressed all over again by her short fiction, and it serves as an excellent introduction for those unfamiliar with her work. Agent: Lucienne Diver, Knight Agency. (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 11/05/2018