Tag Archives: person of color

The City We Became by N. K. Jemisin

This is Jemisin’s latest book. I’d read the prologue as a short story and was intrigued by the concept. Besides, I love her books. Of course I’d read her new one.

Published: 2020

Genre: urban fantasy

Length: 434 pages

Setting: New York City, present day

Summary: Short version: The spirit of NYC manifests in avatars representing its boroughs, and has to fight an enemy Continue reading

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Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James

I put this on my radar because I saw it reviewed as an African Game of Thrones. Sign me up! It was in a small collection of books my library had for outdoor browsing so I picked it up.

Published: 2019

Genre: fantasy

Length: 620 pages

Setting: various locations around the North Lands, a pre-industrial society

Summary: Short version: Tracker shares stories of his adventures with an Inquisitor Continue reading

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The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N. K. Jemisin

This is the first book in Jemisin’s first series, the Inheritance trilogy. I loved her Broken Earth trilogy so much I bought it. I decided it was time to read more of her long works, just in time for her new book to come out.

Published: 2010

Genre: fantasy

Length: 398 pages of story, 412 pages total

Setting: mostly in the city of Sky in a medieval technology world

Summary: Short version: Yeine restores balance to the Gods when she reincarnates as Enefa Continue reading

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The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps by Kai Ashante Wilson

I picked this book up from a GeekMom post about books and series by black authors. This was one of the books suggested that I could find on Hoopla to listen to for free.

Published: 2015

Genre: fantasy novella

Length: 212 pages

Setting: The City of Waters and the road through the Wildeeps in a preindustrial magical world

Summary: Short version: Demane takes a caravan job traveling through the Wildeeps Continue reading

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SLAY by Brittney Morris

This is a book Miss Adventure read recently. I asked if she could recommend me a book, and this is what she suggested.

Published: 2019

Genre: YA fiction

Length: 323 pages

Setting: Bellevue, Washington, modern day

Summary: Short version: Kiera is exposed as the creator of Slay, a video game she made for Blacks Continue reading

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Hugo Awards Best Novelette Nominees

I’m slowly working my way through the Hugo Awards packet. Next up are the novelettes, which the Hugos define as anything that has between 7,500 and 17,500 words. Again, I’ll link to any of the stories that can be read online. If they’re not available free online, I’ll link to their publication on Amazon. If you follow that link and buy the book or story, you’ll be supporting my blog – thanks.

“The Archronology of Love” by Caroline M. Yoachim

Published: April, 2019 in Lightspeed Magazine

Genre: science fiction novelette

Setting: far future colony of New Mars

Summary: A team of archeologists who travel back in time arrive at the colony of New Mars to research why the colony has been wiped out. They discover the alien artifacts found on the planet used nanites to assimilate all organic matter in the colony.

Final thoughts: An interesting story that worked on multiple levels. You definitely had to think about what was going on in order to understand the story. First of all, there are interspersed elements of the story in italics that I slowly realized was the aliens talking, and not the narrator. Second, there’s the intriguing elements of archronology – the archeological study of time instead of space. Then, there’s the story of grief as our narrator is heading to the colony where her husband was supposed to meet her, but everyone is dead. Yoachim achieved a nice balance of emotion balanced with the science. A good start to the selections.

Title comes from: The narrator was an archronologist (an archeologist who traveled back in time to study a location) whose lifelove died on the colony she was studying

“Away With the Wolves” by Sarah Gailey

Published: September/October, 2019 issue of Uncanny Magazine

Genre: fantasy novelette

Setting: a medieval technology village

Summary: Suss feels guilty that she usually chooses to live as a wolf instead of as a human with chronic pain. Her best friend helps her come up with a better solution to that dilemma, which involves making a wolf friend.

Final thoughts: Gailey did a great job setting up the moral dilemma of this story. Should Suss stay human, as her mom wanted her to do, and live with chronic pain and exhaustion all the time? Or should Suss stay wolf, where she doesn’t hurt anymore, but she does destroy parts of the village at times? Suss thinks it’s an either or question. She’s been using her wolf form as a haven, but it’s starting to cause problems in the village. She’s ready to give it up and stay a human (and in pain) forever. Luckily, she’s got a good friend that can see there is another solution. She flips the situation around and has Suss integrate herself into village life as a wolf, who occasionally becomes human when it’s important enough. Probably my second favorite of the bunch.

“The Blur in the Corner of Your Eye” by Sarah Pinsker

Published: July/August 2019 issue of Uncanny Magazine

Genre: horror novelette

Setting: a backwoods cabin in West Virginia, present day

Summary: A writer heads to a cabin in the mountains to focus on writing her next novel. She finds a dead body and discovers she harbors a creature inside herself that comes out to lay its eggs whenever she’s out in the woods writing. Good thing she has a great assistant who knows what’s going on and covers everything up.

Final thoughts: This story surprised me on a regular basis. Reading a story nominated for the Hugos means I’m always on the lookout for the fantastical elements of the story. This one took a while to get to the fantastical part, but that made the emotional payout when the creature crawls out of the writer’s mouth so much stronger. It also made me reinterpret everything I had read so far in a new light. Little things, like how the assistant smelled like cumin or why she was afraid of the crawlspace, now made sense. It all fit together beautifully, and made me love the assistant and what she does for her friend even more. High quality story – I think this was my favorite.

Title comes from: It’s a description of how you see the creature

“For He Can Creep” by Siobhan Carroll

Published: July, 2019 at Tor.com

Genre: fantasy novelette

Setting: a lunatic asylum, it felt like the late 1800s

Summary: Jeoffry, the cat, is tempted by the devil to allow Satan to talk to his his master, a poet confined to an insane asylum. Jeoffry has to ask his cat friends for help in defeating Satan once he realizes the devil tricked him.

Final thoughts: This story is made more interesting because it’s told from the point of view of a cat. I was never quite sure if the demons the cat saw were demons or just big mice. It did make several scenes more amusing, like when Satan gives the standard “all this can be yours if you bow down and worship me” and the cat’s response is, “You should be worshiping me.” Or when the cat has to ask for, God forbid, help. Also, my favorite character was the cute little kitten named The Nighthunter Moppet, who would alternate between adorably distracted kitten to fearsome hunter. The cats realize they can’t kill Satan, but they can save the poet. Very fun story.

Title comes from: In order to beat Satan at his own game, Jeoffry had to creep by him and ignore the giant cat fight going on

“Omphalos” by Ted Chiang

Published: 2019 in Exhalation: Stories, a short story collection by Ted Chiang

Genre: historical science fiction

Setting: mid-1800s United States

Summary: Our narrator is a female scientist who lives in a world where all science affirms the Christian God and the Biblical creation story. When an astronomer discovers a star and the galaxy rotating around another planet, everyone has to rethink their conception of being created by God to be the center of the Universe.

Final thoughts: I found this to be a fascinating story, probably because at heart I am a scientist. It’s such an interesting thought experiment – what would the world be like if all of science affirmed the creation story presented in Genesis? How would that change a scientist’s approach to science? What would the science look like? And then, to have your belief of the world being created by God for something special upended by the discovery that the Universe rotates around a different planet. Such implications! How do you go on with your life? I appreciated Chiang’s analysis of our narrator’s inner drive. She’s not going to stop doing science because the external motivation has changed. She still enjoys the science. Now, it’s a free choice instead of something driven by God.

Title comes from: An omphalos is a central point around which everything else revolves. An astronomer in this world realizes that Earth is not the omphalos of their universe, which changes everything.

“Emergency Skin” by N. K. Jemisin

Published: 2019 as part of the Forward Collection of Amazon Original Stories

Genre: science fiction novelette

Setting: A future Raleigh, North Carolina

Summary: An explorer is sent back to Tellus to collect critical samples for the survival of the colony. Tellus/Earth was abandoned by the colony when the Founders determined there was no chance to survive on the ecologically ravaged Earth. Once the explorer reaches Earth, they realize the story the Founders have been telling doesn’t match the reality on Earth.

Final thoughts: I feel like this is a great example of an unreliable narrator. We never actually hear from the explorer, just from the AI explaining things inside their head and from people on Earth. It’s soon obvious that the situation on Earth is not what has been described. It seems that a bunch of greedy white supremacists left Earth because they thought it was doomed, and suddenly humanity was able to get it’s act together and work together to fix the global problems. Coincidence? I think not. Gradually the explorer realizes their life would be so much better if they stay on Earth, with all of it’s messy humanity, then go back to the rigidly controlled colony.

Title comes from: The explorer lived inside an environmental suit that controlled all of their needs. One of those needs was the ability to put a skin on the enclosed body in case of emergency.

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Truthwitch by Susan Dennard

This was a free Tor book I put on my Kindle. I picked it up now because I was in the mood for some fantasy.

Published: 2016

Genre: fantasy

Length: 416 pages

Setting: various locations around the Witchlands, a medieval tech world

Summary: Short version: Safayi and Iseult’s world gets upended as they get involved in some large-scale politics Continue reading

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The Bookwoman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Robinson

I heard this book discussed on What Should I Read Next and then saw it available on Hoopla and picked it up as an audiobook. I was interested in the story of mobile libraries.

Published: 2019

Genre: historical fiction

Length: 308 pages

Setting: 1936 Kentucky hill country near Troublesome Creek

Summary: Short version: Cussy’s life as a blue-skinned pack horse librarian Continue reading

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Lady in the Lake by Laura Lippman

This was my book club choice for March. I found it on the NPR book concierge list of book club books. Even though we didn’t meet because of the Covid-19 pandemic, I still read the book.

Published: 2019

Genre: historical fiction

Length: 337 pages

Setting: Baltimore, Maryland, October 1965-November 1966

Summary: Short version: Maddie leaves her husband and becomes a newspaper reporter Continue reading

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The Mighty Miss Malone by Christopher Paul Curtis

This was a book recommended in The Read-Aloud Handbook and available when I needed a read aloud for the kids.

Genre: middle grade historical fiction

Length: 320 pages

Setting: Gary, Indiana and Flint, Michigan, at the height of the Great Depression, 1936-1937

Summary: Short summary: Deza’s family is hit hard by problems during the Great Depression Continue reading

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