How Long ’til Black History Month by N. K. Jemisin

I had picked up this collection to read two Locus Award nominee for short stories. I enjoyed them so much I got sucked into reading the rest of the collection.

Published: 2018 for the collection, 2004-2017 for the individual stories

Genre: science fiction and fantasy

Length: 397 pages

SummaryShort version: A collection of Jemisin’s short stories. I’ll summarize each one briefly

“The Ones Who Stay and Fight” – An alternate utopia is contaminated by ideas from our world

“The City Born Great” – A young street rat is coached to midwife the birth of the spirit of New York City and protect it from the Adversary

“Red Dirt Witch” -Emmaline makes a deal with the White Lady to protect her family in the coming civil unrest

“L’Alchimista” – A master chef is challenged by a mysterious stranger with very exotic ingredients

“The Effluent Engine” – Jessaline is looking for an engineer in New Orleans to help the Haitian revolution

“Cloud Dragon Skies” – In a post-climate change world, people from the Mars habitat decide to “fix” the Earth’s atmosphere with disastrous results

“The Trojan Girl” – Partially sentient computer codes find a beautiful piece of code to assimilate

Valedictorian” – In a world where the best and worst of each graduating class are taken, Zinke still decides to be the best (also at EscapePod at the link provided)

The Storyteller’s Replacement” – A storyteller’s story about dragons taking over the royal family (a Locus Award nominee – my fuller review at the link)

“The Brides of Heaven” – All the men and children in the colony have died, but Dihya thinks she found something on the planet to help the women

“The Evaluators” – An epistolary story about a first encounter with an adaptable predator

“Walking Awake” – Sadie cares for children until they are chosen by a Master as a host, at least until Enri is chosen

“The Elevator Dancer” – A security guard in a world that tightly regulates all actions sees a woman dancing in the elevator

Cuisine des Memoires” – A magical kitchen can produce any historical meal requested (the other Locus Award nominee – my fuller review at the link)

“Stone Hunger” – A girl in the Broken Earth setting tracks a man who destroyed her city

“On the Banks of the River Lex” – All the people have died and the deities are fading without anyone to worship them

“The Narcomancer” – Cet is sent out to help villages fight off a rogue narcomancer (a sleep-inducing wizard)

“Henosis” – A story told in nonlinear time about an author who didn’t win the big prize

“Too Many Yesterdays, Not Enough Tomorrows” – An epistolary story about the world going through quantum decoherence and only people lightly tied to the world are left to repeat their days

“The You Train” – A NYC resident keeps seeing subway trains that shouldn’t be there

“Non-Zero Probabilities” – In Adele’s world, the chance of something with a low probability of happening has increased dramatically and is influenced by prayer

Sinners, Saints, Dragons, and Haints In the City Beneath the Still Waters” – A hurricane has hit New Orleans and a haint is making everyone evil (you can listen at PodCastle at the link provided)

Final thoughts: Very enjoyable. Even Mr. Curiosity got sucked into read the stories. There’s a variety of stories included in this collection. Some were set in our world, some were set in a future world, and some were set in a world that never existed (as far as we know). One of my favorite elements to the stories were the voices of the main characters. Jemisin talks in her introduction how hard it was to get started selling stories about black and brown characters. That was my favorite element of the stories. They felt different and refreshing because it was a voice I haven’t often heard. Not all of the stories were great (Mr. Curiosity and I both agreed “Too Many Yesterdays…” was just weird), but enough were that I would recommend this collection to anyone. My favorites were probably “The Evaluators” and “On the Banks of the River Lex” because of the twist at the end of each.

Title comes from: Jemisin’s efforts to get a back voice in the scifi and fantasy worlds

Reading challenges fulfilled: book #55 for 2019 and a J in my Author Reading the Alphabet Challenge

If you’re interested in purchasing the book, you can click on the cover image to follow an Amazon affiliate link to the book and thanks for supporting my blog!

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