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 city 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 figure out how to 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.
I’m not a fan of short stories since I usually find them to be lacking, but I couldn’t help myself when I learned that N.K. Jemisin published a collection. How Long ‘Til Black Future Month? Is a beautiful collection of stories that cover a range of topics all set within science fiction and fantasy settings.
There are 22 stories packed within this 400-page collection. Each of the stories stand on their own and offer something different to readers. The stories featured themes of rebirth, redemption, sacrifice, and hope among others. There were a few stories that really stuck out to me and only a couple of stories I ended up skimming through.
L’Alchimista is a story about a chef given the challenge of cooking a dish by a stranger on a cold and snowy night. The tone throughout is playful yet serious with a dash of magic. What isn’t there to like about a magical cooking challenge?
The Effluent Engine is a story about two kickass women set in New Orleans in the 1800s. From the first page until the last, the atmosphere is fragrant and all encompassing. It’s an adventure tale set in a steampunk setting with lesbians! What’s not to love?
Cloud Dragon Skies reminded me a lot of Jemisin’s The Broken Earth trilogy. It’s a story about science, people, and nature. It’s a little on the shorter side, but I loved it nonetheless.
Cusine des Memoires was my absolute favourite story of the collection. It’s about a restaurant that serves whatever meal from the past that you want to experience. For example: Marie Antoinette’s final meal. It’s a story about memories, the past, the present, and what it means to live.
Overall, I’m incredibly happy that I read this collection of stories. There are a few stories that I will definitely reread sometime in the future, so I wouldn’t hesitate in recommending this collection.