How long 'til black future month?

by N. K. Jemisin

Paperback, 2018




New York, NY : Orbit, 2018.


N. K. Jemisin is one of the most powerful and acclaimed speculative fiction authors of our time. In the first collection of her evocative short fiction, Jemisin equally challenges and delights readers with thought-provoking narratives of destruction, rebirth, and redemption. In these stories, Jemisin sharply examines modern society, infusing magic into the mundane, and drawing deft parallels in the fantasy realms of her imagination. Dragons and hateful spirits haunt the flooded streets of New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. In a parallel universe, a utopian society watches our world, trying to learn from our mistakes. A black mother in the Jim Crow South must save her daughter from a fey offering impossible promises. And in the Hugo award-nominated short story "The City Born Great," a young street kid fights to give birth to an old metropolis's soul.… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member rivkat
Story collection mixing f/sf, with a number of stories about various forms of locus genii, including a Fifth Kingdoms story about how those who have evil done to them do evil in return, but maybe there is still goodness in the interstices. Many of the stories are about the ways that discrimination warps people, victims and perpetrators both in different ways, and occasionally about airships (the steampunk story in which free Haiti is trying to stay out of the clutches of white Europe by controlling airship technology and methane production is a bunch of fun).… (more)
LibraryThing member bell7
N. K. Jemisin, author of The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms and the Broken Earth trilogy, all three of which won Hugo Awards, now collects several short stories that would fall into either fantasy or science fiction.

I really enjoyed this collection, the variety in the stories, the inventiveness of the world-building and how well-crafted each was to feel like a complete story and not just an exercise for working out the kinks of one of her longer books. Jemisin writes a little in the introduction how she came to write short fiction, and I enjoyed that insight into her writing process as well. If you've already read some of her longer fiction and are a fan, this is a must read. And if you haven't and you're not sure, it's a great introduction into her style and worlds. It's really hard to summarize a collection: some stories were surprising, complex, others creepy. It was a fun ride and it makes me want to read more of her works.… (more)
LibraryThing member decaturmamaof2
These stories are fabulous - I did NOT want the book to end. It was my first introduction to NK Jemisin's work (what have I been waiting for!?), and I can't wait to read more by her.
LibraryThing member gypsysmom
I listened to this book which had a variety of narrators all of whom did a good job. I've read Jemisin's Broken Earth trilogy so I know what a great writer she is in the long format; she is equally as good in the short format. Some of the stories I would classify as science fiction, some as fantasy and some were just unclassifiable. Since I was listening not reading I can't say what the titles of the stories that took my fancy were. The very last one concerned Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans but in addition to flooding, looting, destruction there are monsters and talking lizards. Really fun. I also really like the one that had people living alone in a place but able to communicate with others via internet. All the people were used to being alone as they had been loners when the world was "normal". When these people developed a friendship or romantic relationship they vanished from the internet. What happened to them? And of course there was one story from Jemisin's Broken Earth world that was terrific.

I recommend these stories if you like to be surprised and made to think.
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LibraryThing member Guide2
Good collection of mostly really short stories: some hit and miss, but overall quite good.
LibraryThing member bookczuk
Damn good book, and I usually don't like short stories!
LibraryThing member Zoes_Human
The Ones Who Stay and Fight
5 stars
A powerful science fiction tale written in response to Ursula K. Le Guin's The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas that examines the truth of utopia.

The City Born Great
5 stars
A thrilling paranormal horror story with a Lovecraftian feel and a chase scene that left me both holding my breath and winded at the end.… (more)
LibraryThing member froxgirl
I find short stories requiring more concentration and attention than novels. With the latter, a reader can drift away for a few pages, return later, and not lose the gist. But stories are sharper, more pinpoint, and you cannot look away even for a sentence. The impact of these Jemisin stories vary, from devastating (a demon lurking under the floodwaters of Katrina) to whimsical (phantom subway lines in New York City), but most are filled with multi-levels and fascinating characters and observations. Those who love her Broken Earth trilogy will find joy in the story that provides the foundation for that record-setting Hugo Award winning series. A big bonus is the introduction, which tracks Jemisin's trajectory from her finding no SciFi that included black people, to her long and slow path to putting them front and center in her own writing and getting published.

A quibble: the book title, rather than the title of each story, heads every page, leaving the reader with no method of tracking each individual story by name or by length. I hope this does not become a trend.

Quotes: "The trouble is that we have a bad habit, encouraged by those concealing ill intent, of insisting that people already suffering should be afflicted with further, unnecessary pain."

"Blue sky hard as a cop's eyes."
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LibraryThing member mikelittle
Why is it I forget how good short stories are until I start reading them again? Nora K Jemisin writes wonderful, surprising, delightful speculative fiction.
The ability to take a way out there idea, spin a tiny little tale around it, and surprise you with the ending is genius.
No need to fill in back stories or explain the science. Just tell the story, have the characters interact and finish with a delightful twist, or a thoughtful reflection. Exquisite.
I can't wait to read more of her work.

I must give a shout out to my daughter: this was a father's day present. Quite wonderful.
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LibraryThing member Zoes_Human
"Once upon a time, I didn't think I could write short stories." Thus begins the introduction to one of the absolute best short fiction collections that I have ever had the pleasure of reading. Ranging the gamut of speculative fiction from fantasy through paranormal into science fiction and then to dystopian along with everything in between, these stories are dark and deep. Full of rich description, they sweep you away into worlds that seem impossibly well-constructed for being assembled in only a few pages. Each and every tale was a delight to read.

My author-crush on Jemisin is blooming into full-fledged love.

The Ones Who Stay and Fight
5 stars
A powerful science fiction tale written in response to Ursula K. Le Guin's The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas that examines the truth of utopia.

The City Born Great
5 stars
A thrilling paranormal horror story with a Lovecraftian feel and a chase scene that left me both holding my breath and winded at the end.

Red Dirt Witch
5 stars
A witch faces down a fairy in a battle for her people in this historical paranormal tale.

5 stars
A charming tale of modern cookery and ancient witchcraft.

The Effluent Engine
4 stars
A woman from Haiti finds more than she is expecting in slavery-era New Orleans in this alternate history short.

Cloud Dragon Skies
5 stars
A vision of a far distant post-apocalyptic future revealing the relationship between those of us who fled and those who remained.

The Trojan Girl
5 stars
A science fiction tale focusing on the social lives and desires of A.I. born in the Internet.

4 stars
In a dystopian post-war society, a girl flaunts social expectations in the face of dreadful consequences.

The Storyteller's Replacement
4.5 stars
A dark fantasy reminiscent of One Thousand and One Nights that leaves one faintly disturbed yet intrigued.

The Brides of Heaven
5 stars
A chilling science-fiction short where interplanetary colonists face hopeless odds including the madness of one of their own.

The Evaluators
5 stars
A first contact story that reveals a startling societal arrangement which could change humanity forever.

Walking Awake
5 stars
A dystopian short with themes of collaboration through ignorance, the self-destructive nature of humankind, and the pain of awakening.

The Elevator Dancer
5 stars
A dark and dystopian short about temptation, oppression, and perception of reality.

Cuisine des Mémoires
4 stars
A melancholy short fantasy centered around food and memories. It may leave you hungry as well as wondering about your choices in life.

Stone Hunger
4.5 stars
This is the story that eventually became the Broken Earth series. The story itself has a complete arc, yet it feels somehow incomplete. I suppose the author felt much the same. Perhaps it’s less that it’s incomplete and more that it leaves one eager to know more about this universe of magic, destruction, and, above all, hunger.

On the Banks of the River Lex
5 stars
In which the question is asked—what happens to our gods and incarcerations once humankind has finally self-destructed.

The Narcomancer
4.5 stars
One man struggles to find the path of righteousness when faced with a temptation that is both a sacred obligation and a violation of faith.

5 stars
A dark examination of what it truly means to honor an artist. Written in an unusual sequence which may be read in two ways, which I highly recommend doing.

Too Many Yesterdays, Not Enough Tomorrows
5 stars
In a fragmented universe, with the survivors existing in isolated quantum islands, what makes the difference between survival and extinction?

The You Train
4 stars
A haunting tale of one woman’s journey of self-discovery in the subways of New York.

Non-Zero Probabilities
4 stars
When probability spirals out of control making both the best and worst kind of luck an everyday occurrence, a young woman finds her life entirely changed.

Sinners, Saints, Dragons, and Haints, in the City Beneath the Still Waters
5 stars
A man finds he has to battle more than he expected as he fights for survival after the levee breaks in New Orleans.
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LibraryThing member reynag
Yet another amazing book club read! And just the book for the end of the decade. This short story collection has something for everyone, from mysticism, sci-fi, to good old fashioned dystopian future. I truly enjoyed each story for what it was. To pick one would be tough but I think I would go with either L'Alchimista or Cloud Dragon Skies.… (more)
LibraryThing member joecanas
What a let-down. I was eager to read these short stories from one of my favorite SF novelists. But they are what Jemisin essentially says they are in her introduction: Early works by an enthusiastic writer learning her craft. The stories felt very clunky, not at all subtle. See, e.g., The Broken Earth trilogy for a master class in combining high concept + plot + character development, while maintaining control of the tone, the mood, the subtly shifting effect on the reader over the course of the three books.… (more)
LibraryThing member elenaj
As Jemisin says that she had to learn to be a short story writer, I am not a natural short story reader. I prefer the immersion and deep connection to characters from a novel (especially a long novel) to the short story. That said, I really enjoyed some of these stories, and particularly the themes Jemisin works with and through - questions of exploitation of the body, of alien reproduction, and of culture clash and oppression. And of course the power of resistance and community, of building a better world from the one we have, or from the ashes of yesterday.

Standouts for me were the fun steampunk adventure "The Effluent Engine", the creepy and satisfying "The Brides of Heaven" and "The Evaluators", and the viscerally disturbing but moving "Walking Awake".
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LibraryThing member m_mozeleski


This collection of short stories will blow the skull off your brain. Amazing, vivid descriptions, and beautiful stories.

A must-read.
LibraryThing member lavaturtle
I really loved some of these stories, while some others weren't really my thing. Some of my favorites: "The City Born Great", "The Effluent Engine", "Non-Zero Probabilities", and "Sinners, Saints, Dragons, and Haints, in the City Beneath the Still Waters".




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