N.K. Jemisin

The Fifth Season

The Fifth Season

A season of endings has begun. It starts with the great red rift across the heart of the world's sole continent, from which enough ash spews to darken the sky for years. Or centuries.

It starts with death, with a murdered son and a missing daughter.

It starts with betrayal, and long dormant wounds rising up to fester.

And it ends with you. You are the Stillness, a land long familiar with catastrophe, where orogenes wield the power of the earth as a weapon and are feared far more than the long cold night. And you will have no mercy.

Learn more.

New author photo, starred review

For those of you not be-Twittered or a-Facebooked, these are the new author photos I got recently, since my old one was a whopping 7 years old. (Time flies when you’re having fun.) And while that old photo was awesome — taken by fellow pro author and amateur photographer E. C. Myers, with a little touching-up by fellow pro author and graphic designer Kris Dikeman — it was time to retire it. Haven’t worn my hair that way in years, and also I’ve earned my “older and wiser”, and I wanted that to show.

So this time around I went full professional. On a recommendation from Orbit’s art director, Lauren Panepinto — who better to know awesome author photographers? — I contacted Laura Hanifin, who’s done some amazing work already. I wanted someone who knew how to photograph regular people, not just models and actors whose job it is to look good. I needed someone who could advise me on what to wear and what kind of lighting would be best, because dammit Jim I’m a writer not a visual person. And I wanted someone who could capture my “author face”.

See, as anyone who’s met me in person will know, I’m geeky and have a twelve-year-old’s sense of humor, and can be shy. But — like most authors, I think — I put on a different face when I’m writing. Then I’m focused, controlled, channeling the personae and worlds in my head. I used to think that I was “just” writing science fiction and fantasy, “just” fiction. Yet I’ve come to understand over the years of my pro career that there’s no “just” about it. Because of who I am, because of how small others want the world to be, even something so simple as having an imagination is a revolutionary act. My writing is an act of defiance; my very existence, a challenge. I didn’t ask for this. I just wanted to write good books… but after the first death threat, it was on.

So be it; I can handle it. And this is who I am, too:

head and shoulders portrait of N. K. Jemisin

I cannot stress how absolutely delighted I am with this pic. It was an intentional choice not to smile, if you’re wondering. Smiles have meaning for women who are authors, and that gets more complicated for women of color. So although I got a few other, “smilier” photos made, too, which I’ll toss into blog posts and give to interviewers and such… this is the one that will be going in my books from here forth. Given production schedules and so on, it’s too late for this to go into The Fifth Season, but you’ll see it after that.

And apropos of which, just found out TFS got a starred review from Library Journal!

Multiaward winner Jemisin breaks uncharted ground with this long-awaited title that introduces a fresh world and trilogy, creating a completely realized society inhabited by three varieties of humans and a nonhuman species that lives inside the earth. With Jemisin’s record of prestigious literary honors, plus her strong following, this is a must-buy for all speculative fiction collections and an excellent recommendation for fans of Brandon Sanderson’s “Mistborn” trilogy.

Aww, yeah.

Not the affirmative action you meant, not the history you’re making

So many people have said so many good things about the Hugo Awards debacle in the past few days. I haven’t said much myself because a) I’ve got a book to write, and b) I don’t really care. I mean, I do care about the Hugos; this is a respectable award, which as George R. R. Martin wisely points out has value because the people of Worldcon over the decades have worked their asses off to build its value. Unlike GRRM I think the contributions to that value actually go beyond Worldcon; it’s also been built up by the librarians who buy extra copies of the Hugo nominees and winners for circulation (I definitely noticed a bump after my Hugo noms), and the bookstore staff who create Hugo displays, and the reviewers who rave or rant about them. This whole mess is a sad and ridiculous appropriation of all that work, by people who for the most part haven’t spent day one on a Worldcon committee, or done anything else of the like. But this isn’t exactly the first venerable SFF institution that Those People have attempted to shit all over, so at this point I’m inured to their “inflammatory” tactics. If a toddler throws enough red-faced tantrums, you eventually learn to just corral them somewhere so they don’t hurt themselves or anyone else, read a book ’til they’re done screaming, then pick up their mess and move on.

There’s really only one point that I feel like making here, specifically about Brad Torgersen’s little “Affirmative Action” whinge (located here, thanks to many others for reading his site so I didn’t have to):
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A Tale of Two Characters

Awhile back I mentioned offhand in another post that readers seem to be harder on my female characters than my male characters. This was in the context of analyzing one-star reader reviews culled from Amazon and Goodreads, and a few folks in the comments asked me to explore that topic further. So here’s a (hopefully) interesting exercise. I’m going to compare reviewer comments on two of my protagonists: Oree Shoth from The Broken Kingdoms, and Gatherer Ehiru from The Killing Moon. (For those who haven’t read either book, remember, you can read the first few chapters here and here, respectively. That might be enough for you to get to know each character, a little.)

To keep this simple, I’m going to look only at Goodreads this time. I’m a little hampered by the fact that few of the one-star reviews for both books have text attached, so I’m going to look at one, two, and three-star reviews in this case. And I’m just going to list individual lines from each review, where they seem to reflect the reader’s opinion of each character. You’re welcome to go over to GR and see the actual reviews if you like, but remember — I think reviews are valuable, even the “bad” ones, because they help me understand stuff about how my potential audience thinks. Please don’t be obnoxious to people who are actually helping me out.

Some spoilers hereforth.
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A world in which race matters

I’ve been thinking about this article for the last day or so. I posted a link to it on my Twitter feed yesterday, and saw a few reactions to it that seemed… confused. Part of the problem is that the article gets a little muddled at points, I think because it’s talking about a complicated concept: race as identity, versus race as socioeconomic marker within in the modern (racist) political structure. But part of the problem, IMO, is the misconceptions that readers were bringing to the article themselves. A couple even asked (paraphrase, since I didn’t ask them about posting their comment), does this person actually want racism added to their Dragon Age? Which is when I realized that, to a lot of people, race should only exist, or matter, where there is racism.

Which… yeah, OK, no. I mean, I get where this comes from, especially from folks who, like me, live in racist societies. When I say I’m proud to be a black American, it’s in spite of racism, while a white supremacist would declare themselves proud to be white because of racism. (Paraphrasing many people; not sure who originated this way of framing racial pride.) But I’m also proud to be black because blackness is fucking awesome. I am part of a people, and I revel in our collective uniqueness. Why wouldn’t I?

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How an author feels upon receiving her page proofs

Please excuse my messy kitchen and crap film production skills.

Slightly intimidating. On the other hand, I love this stage of the book production process. I probably shouldn’t, because at this point I’ve read the novel what feels like ninety times… but I do. This is the point where that year of sweat and harsh language starts to feel like a book.

A really, really, really big, book.


Stuff I wrote (and read) in 2014

Since people keep asking, here’s the very short list of stuff I published in 2014. I’ll have you know I’m postponing a perfectly good snow day nap to write this up!!

I did have one more thing published in 2014, but please note that this was a reprint, originally published back in 2012 in the anthology After. No novels — yes, I know some websites kept insisting that The Fifth Season was out in 2014, but as you know, readers, that was just an error. (We have a pub date! TFS will be out on August 4th of this year.)

And in recommendations-from-me news, while I didn’t keep up well with my short fiction reading this year, you can take a lookback at my two NYT roundups for a sense of which novels I’m probably going to be voting for myself:

So now you know. And knowing is half the battle!

What I’ll be doing this weekend

I’ve mentioned a few times here that I’ll be one of the Guests of Honor at this year’s Arisia in Boston, haven’t I? Well, now I’m mentioning it again. Here are the events I’m scheduled for, if you’ll be there too:

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“To anthology editors”, a corollary

Nalo Hopkinson has an awesome and helpful piece up today on her website on how anthology editors can go about creating cohesive, thematically powerful collections that don’t just contain the same old voices all the time. All of her essay is good; go read the whole thing. I’ll wait.

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Launch Day!

Hi folks. Well, it’s official — as of today, the omnibus edition of the Inheritance Trilogy, and “The Awakened Kingdom” novella, both go on sale.

Cover shows a photorealistic, ornate stone door, superimposed with text reading THE INHERITANCE TRILOGY. At bottom, INCLUDES A BRAND NEW NOVELLA SET IN THE SAME WORLD, THE AWAKENED KINGDOM

The omnibus is available at all major retailers, print and ebook, and includes the novella. If you’ve already got the trilogy in separate-book form, however, don’t worry — you can buy just the novella as a standalone ebook for $2.99.

Awakened Kingdom ebook cover - shows stylized brassy stars exploding on a burgundy background, and book title.

It’s available for Nook, Kindle, and as a Google ebook.

As for the omnibus, here’s KING OZZYMANDIAS (or Ozzy, for short) to demonstrate just what a whopper it is:

Orange cat sitting next to a very large book.

In the next photo, he pushes it off the desk.

…Might wanna have it delivered. Just sayin’.

I usually post sample chapters of my novels, but since this is just a novella (about 1/3 the size of most of my books), and it doesn’t have chapters, I’m going to post a shorter segment, below. This is from the pre-copyedited version, note, and from a few pages in.

Happy reading!
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DA: Inquisition Story Review

So, since people keep asking me about this on Twitter, I’ll summarize my thoughts about this game, which I finished this past weekend. Emphasis on story vs other gameplay elements, so thus the post title. Spoilers herein, BTW, so a cut:
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