Sunday, February 28, 2021

How Long 'Til Black Future Month?

How Long 'til Black Future Month? / N.K. Jemisin
NY: Orbit, c2018.
400 p.

This collection of 22 stories which span Jemisin's career is a must read. If you are interested in contemporary speculative fiction, this is a book which I'd consider canonical. 

I finished this last week but haven't had a chance to sit down to write about it -- but just had to get it in before the end of Black History Month -- the perfect companion to looking back. There is a wide variety of subject matter and style in this book, since the stories are drawn from writing across many years. 

My favourites are the more magical, fantastical ones; the harder science ones didn't catch me in the same way. And there's also a story, "Stone Hunger" tied to her best-selling trilogy, the Broken Earth books.

I really enjoyed "Sinners, Saints, Dragons, and Haints, in the City Beneath the Still Waters", a story set during Hurricane Katrina. There are strong characters and also dragon creatures who protect the city -- it's a beautifully cohesive story, and full of love for the city itself. Funnily enough, the other story that I really loved was also set in New Orleans, but this time in the late 18th Century. "The Effluent Engine" is a spy story; a female spy and female engineer, wreaking havoc on men who are trying to destroy them, and triumphing together. I want more of this one! 

There are many others to explore in this thoughtful and engaging collection. From very short to quite lengthy, from tales of the fae to hard science and space exploration, you'll find something you'll love in this book, I'm sure of it. Jemisin brings her own vision to these stories, and breaks from some of the motifs in traditional male science fiction from the past. It's fresh, and has reignited my interest in reading more speculative fiction.

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