Tag Archives: nk jemisin

The City We Became

UnknownI loved the short story that turned into the prologue of this book. And I love this book.

It should be noted that I do not know New York. At all. I understand people who love NYC have a very particular reaction to this book, but that’s not me. You tell me it has five boroughs? OK. You tell me Staten Island doesn’t like being one of those boroughs? Happy to believe you. You could tell me that New York streets are all slightly curved either north or west and I would have to actually do research to see if you were right.

So anything I say about this book in relation to New York City should keep that in mind. My love for this book does not stem from my love for the city that is, in more visceral ways than is usually meant by this phrase, truly a character within the book.

Six characters, in fact…

Look, to some extent my reviewing this book is a bit redundant. There have been lots of other reviews by people who are far more eloquent than me; who know New York better than me, who can speak to the WHAT THE HECK WAS THAT twist that I seriously didn’t see coming (possibly because I don’t have a certain background, which I am completely fine with), who can speak to the way this book reflects Americana with much more knowledge than me. So what do I have to add?

I can say that even as someone who doesn’t know the USA or NYC, this book is visceral and captures a city brilliantly. And USES a city and the way people think about it to magnificent effect

I can say that it’s fantastically paced – meeting new characters and ‘getting the band together’ can sometimes be tiresome, but not here. Here, it’s all so intricately part of the evolving plot and understanding what the heck is happening that I barely noticed half the characters hadn’t met each other for a substantial part of the novel.

I assume that those who know NYC will agree with the choices made for who represents each borough, or at least see where Jemisin in coming from; the explanation for why you get a particular person in a particular area made sense to me in a fictional way, at least. So I can say I loved the variety of characters and the amount of backstory that is woven expertly into the current story and why those things are necessary and how each character could really just have a mundane story written about them and it would still be fascinating.

I can say that I have precisely zero regrets about pre-ordering this six months ago and have every intention of doing the same as soon as the sequel is announced.


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Galactic Suburbia 161

In which Alex & Tansy consume bucketloads of culture and explain what all those fan fund letters really mean. This is an educational podcast! Get us from iTunes or at Galactic Suburbia

GUFF race (until 1 April)
DUFF race (until 10 March)


Tansy: Pantomime by Laura Lam,
Alex: lots of the Vorkosigan saga, Lois McMaster Bujold
Tansy: Harry Potter & the Cursed Child,
Alex: Obelisk Gate, NK Jemisin;
Tansy: Passing Strange by Ellen Klages,
Alex: Bright Air Black, David Vann;
Tansy: Dr Strange
Alex: My Real Children, Jo Walton
Tansy: Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events

Please send feedback to us at galacticsuburbia@gmail.com, follow us on Twitter at @galacticsuburbs, check out Galactic Suburbia Podcast on Facebook, support us at Patreon and don’t forget to leave a review on iTunes if you love us!

Galactic Suburbia!

In which Letters To Tiptree is still turning heads, and it’s winter in Australia. Much winter. So coldness. You can get us from iTunes or at Galactic Suburbia.


World Fantasy Award finalists

Locus Awards winners


Alisa: Undisclosed – Vacated; 4 hideous romcoms (Remember Sunday, Thanks for Sharing, Life Happens and Something Borrowed)

Alex: Howl’s Moving Castle, Diana Wynne Jones; Beggars in Spain, Nancy Kress; Fifth Season, NK Jemisin; The Hollow Crown

Tansy: Person of Interest Season 5, Book Smugglers Quarterly Almanac (especially John Chu’s “How to Piss off a Failed Super-Soldier”), Batman v Superman; Hamilton, Rocket Talk podcast – Amal El-Mohtar on Does Hamilton Count as Genre.

Please send feedback to us at galacticsuburbia@gmail.com, follow us on Twitter at @galacticsuburbs, check out Galactic Suburbia Podcast on Facebook, support us at Patreon and don’t forget to leave a review on iTunes if you love us!


UnknownWhen I finished reading the first story in Mothership, a little voice in my head said “Was that really the story to start this anthology with? I mean, sure it’s got a black protagonist, but is that enough?”

And then the rest of me took a step back, looked horrified, and said: “Have you learned nothing from Pam Noles’ essay “Shame”? And from the entire Kaleidoscope project? The story has a black protagonist. That’s entirely the point.”

And then I sat, aghast at my own white ignorance, and felt ashamed.

And then I kept reading, because that’s the obvious way to combat such an attitude and is at least part of the point of this project and why I supported its production.

There’s a really wide variety of fiction in this anthology. Some skirt the edge of being ‘speculative’ (Rabih Alameddine’s “The Half-Wall”) while others hurtle over the edge and throw themselves at it. I didn’t click with every story (Greg Tate’s “Angels + Cannibals Unite” really didn’t work for me, and nor did Ran Walker’s “The Voyeur”), but many of them were absolutely breathtaking.

Nisi Shawl’s “Good Boy” – one of the only stories that really qualifies for the ‘mothership’ appellation by being set in space – is a glorious fun romp.

“The Aphotic Ghost”, by Carlos Hernandez, did not go where I was expecting and was utterly absorbing.

SP Somtow’s “The Pavilion of Frozen Women” has a wonderful line in bringing together several quite disparate cultures and tying them together into a fairly creepy thriller.

NK Jemisin does intriguing things with the notion of online communities in “Too many yesterdays, not enough tomorrows.”

“Life-Pod” is Vandana Singh’s haunting reflection on family and identity and connection.

In “Between Islands,” Jaymee Goh suggests how different things might have been for the British in colonising Melaka and surrounds with different technology…

Tenea D Johnson’s “The Taken” is a profound reflection on contemporary issues and problems stemming from the historical transportation of enslaved African to America… I don’t even inhabit the culture that’s dealing  with it.

One of the intriguing things about this anthology is that it’s not focussed on African-American fiction, which I had basically expected thanks to the title’s reference to P Funk and Afrofuturism. Instead, there are stories here that draw on Egyptian, Native American, Caribbean (I think? I’m Australian, sorry!!), Japanese and Malaysian (again, I think) traditions and cultures – and those are just the ones that I (think I) could identify. There are definitely others that draw on other Asian cultures (I think there’s an Indonesian one?). The author bios don’t universally identify where the authors are from, so that doesn’t assist in figuring out what might have influenced them… which is not a complaint, by the way, because so what? (in the most prosaic ‘fiction is fiction’ sense). So it’s a really broad understanding of what falls into “Tales from Afrofuturism and beyond” – much more inclusive therefore than, for example, many anthologies of the last few years, let alone decades.

This is an good anthology, period. That it’s exploring and accomplishing a particular political aim is icing on the cake. You can get it from Fishpond!

Galactic Suburbia 96

In which we announce the 2013 Galactic Suburbia for activism and/or communication that advances the feminist conversation in the field of speculative fiction.

[If you want to listen unspoilt to the episode discussing shortlist and winners of the GS Award, listen over here right now without reading the rest of the show notes. Don’t even glance at them! Move along, nothing to see here]

Culture Consumed:
Alex: Shadow Unit! Haven ep 1!
Alisa: Fringe, Haven S1, Game of Thrones S1 and S2, Veronica Mars Movie
Tansy: The Lotus Palace by Jeannie Lin; Dark Eyes 2 (Big Finish); Veronica Mars Movie

Shout out for Night Terrace.

Cranky Ladies of History funded!

Galactic Suburbia Award!!
for activism and/or communication that advances the feminist conversation in the field of speculative fiction

Malinda Lo’s continuing statistics gathering on LGBT YA books

Foz Meadows for her blogging generally, but particularly “Old Men Yelling at Clouds.”

Anita Sarkeesian – Tropes vs Women in Video Games (Damsel in Distress 1 & 2, Ms Male Character)

Kameron Hurley, ‘We Have Always Fought’: Challenging the Women, Cattle and Slaves Narrative,” at A Dribble of Ink.

The Doubleclicks – Nothing to Prove music video

Cheryl Morgan – The Rise & Fall of Grimpink

Deb Stanish for her essay in Apex magazine: “Fangirl isn’t a Dirty Word.”

Honorary shortlistee (the Julia Gillard Award):

Wendy Davis for her amazing filibuster

Joint Winners this Year!!!
(drum roll please)

NK Jemisin for her GoH speech from Continuum (link)

Elise Matheson for her essay “How to Report Sexual Harassment at cons” (link)

Also discussed:

“Not Now, Not Ever” (Gillard Misogyny Speech) by Australian Voices

Please send feedback to us at galacticsuburbia@gmail.com, follow us on Twitter at @galacticsuburbs, check out Galactic Suburbia Podcast on Facebook and don’t forget to leave a review on iTunes if you love us!