How Long ’til Black Future Month is a collection of short stories by NK Jemisin. Ever since I came across her Broken Earth Series, I’ve been a huge fan. It was a real treat to read her explorations in this book.
I gotta give major applause to Jemisin because the range of her imagination is wild! Some stories are sharp and witty in their commentary on society, while others have an undertone of religion, albeit with fresh (may one argue, necessary?) twists. Others have the apocalyptic futuristic sci-fi vibe that we all love. A few were downright hair-rising creepy (in a good way, of course). Not all stories have an equal punch to them, but for me, the great ones definitely outnumbered the ordinary few. Some of my favorites were: Red Dirt Witch, L’Alchimista, The Effluent Engine, The Trojan Girl, and The Narcomancer.
Every bit as enjoyable and eye-opening to read is Jemisin’s self-written introduction to How Long ’til Black Future Month. On the writing aspect, it was fascinating because she credits her ability to write longer-form novels to short stories. She says, “writing short stories taught me about the quick hook and the deep character.”
The worlds of her longer series were originally tested out via short story form, and indeed it was cool to see that play out. The short story Stone Hunger became The Broken Earth series, and it was rather nostalgic to see an earlier version of that world.
One of the reasons I love NK Jemisin is that she doesn’t shy away from anger. Of course, POC books can be escapism too, and don’t have to be about social issues all the time. But in the hands of Jemisin, they become both. They are both great escapist avenues while still bringing to light centuries of racism.
NK Jemisin often states that she has no interest in maintaining the status quo, and indeed her writings are about challenging existing paradigms, overthrowing order, and reimagining the future. The vibe of her stories reminds me of the poet Maya Angelou. Jemisin’s own words sum it best:
Rest assured I am on a mission to read all her works.