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Alaya Dawn Johnson. Small Beer, $17 trade paper (256p) ISBN 978-1-61873-177-7

Johnson (Trouble the Saints) showcases her vision and craft in this powerful collection of speculative shorts. 2014’s Nebula-winning “A Guide to the Fruits of Hawai’i,” a lush, melancholy tale of a human woman navigating an alternate present in which vampires have conquered the Earth, opens the volume and sets the tone. Most of the nine subsequent stories feature capable women of color struggling against grim, unjust, and often violent sociopolitical structures. The major exception is 2011’s “Their Changing Bodies,” another vampire story, but this one a lighthearted yarn set at a summer camp. Two stories are original to this collection: “The Mirages,” set in a beautifully rendered postapocalyptic Mexico City, and the exceptional title novella, a heartbreaking story of a formerly enslaved woman working for the 1st South Carolina Volunteer Infantry Regiment during the Civil War. Throughout, Johnson breaks down genre boundaries, combining elements of fantasy, mystery, science fiction, and horror, in settings ranging from the historical and familiar to the wildly imaginative. Unified by Johnson’s sensuous prose, these stories will delight existing fans and serve as an excellent introduction for those new to Johnson’s work. Agent: Jill Grinberg, Jill Grinberg Literary. (Nov.)