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.

The Million Writers Award

No, I’m not up for it. But a friend and colleague of mine is — Kris Dikeman, whose phenomenal story “Nine Sundays in a Row” got quite justifiably nominated. This contest is a “reader’s choice” award, so you can vote for the story you like best. You don’t have to vote for Kris, of course…

(…OK I lied you totally do.)

Anyway, go look, and if you like, vote.

Spock and Biraciality

Went to see Star Trek last week. Quite liked it, despite problems like the women of the series still getting short shrift in the agency department, and much of the frenetic action having no real purpose. (Why did Young Kirk trash that beautiful car? I cannot condone random destruction of works of art, not even as characterization shorthand.)

But have seen several convos on the ‘net that triggered some thoughts. Namely — whoops, spoiler-cut —
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Networking Confessions at The Magic District

In which I reveal my greatest fear!

My Wiscon Schedule, part deux

OK, finally seems to be solidified, though some of the events on this keep skeeting about like greased pigs. Thus far we have:

Writers’ Workshop, Fri 9:00AM – 12:00PM.
I’ll be running a group of four aspiring novelists. Yay!

Forces Beyond Our Control: power, identity, and magic in fantasy, Fri 4:00 – 5:15PM.
This is a reading I’ll be doing with fellow writers Alaya Dawn Johnson, Margaret Ronald, and Doselle Young. What will I read? Uh… still deciding on that.

I’m the moderator for this one; the panelists will be K. Tempest Bradford, Moondancer Drake, Nnedi Nkemdili Okorafor, and Naamen Gobert Tilahun. Should be fun — it’s a panel full of writers of color, talking about anything but race for a change.

Was It Good for You? Sat 10:30 – 11:45PM.
Again moderating for K. Tempest Bradford, Sumana Harihareswara, Rachel Kronick, and Betsy Lundsten. Here’s an abbreviated description:
A common response to requests for increased representation of women/PoC in science fiction seems to be—we are just looking for good stories. Writers are concerned that, even absent overt discrimination, the themes they want to write about and the stories they want to tell will be dismissed as irrelevant to the white male audience. This doesn’t really have anything to do with quality.

Getting it Wrong Gracefully, Mon 10:00 – 11:15AM.
Moderating again, yay. Panelists are Alan Bostick, Moondancer Drake, Vylar Kaftan, and Mary Robinette Kowal. In brief:
The purpose of this discussion is to not only talk about the logistics of writing about folks unlike yourself, but to talk about how a writer handles the inevitable moment when what you’ve written offends someone.

If you’re wondering, Wiscon usually has a desperate shortage of moderators, so when people are willing, they definitely get used. And while I know many of these panels will require moderator heavy lifting — controversial panels can get ugly, if one isn’t careful — I think it’s worth a little sacrifice of comfort on my part to try and keep the discussion on-track. Wiscon is my favorite SF con because it’s willing to have these kinds of panels, and it staffs them with ordinary people — anyone who feels like it can volunteer to be on a panel at Wiscon, and there’s a strong likelihood they’ll get picked. I’ve learned more about being a writer from panels like this than from any panel of knowitall blowhards.

Actually, I’m most nervous about the reading. Haven’t done one of those since the last Wiscon, maybe 2 years ago? And now that I’ve got less than a month to go, I really need to decide what I’m going to read. ::ulp:: I’m torn between two forthcoming things: the first chapter of 100K, and the first half of my short story “Sinners, Saints, Dragons, and Haints, in the City Beneath the Still Waters”, which will be coming out in Postscripts in 2010. It’s got to fit into about 15 minutes, so can’t be much, whatever it is. Argh, I’m so indecisive.

So anyway, hope to see some of you there. =)

100K available for preorder!

OK, so the author name is wrong and there’s no cover image and for some reason Amazon seems to have pre-tagged it as “Chinese fantasy” (O.o)… but I imagine all these things are fixable. Anyway, if you reeeeeeeally really really want to make sure you get your hands on a copy, and you’re terrified that it’ll sell out or the world economy will collapse or the price of paper will surge or nanotech will turn us all into gray goo sometime within the next 9 months… you can now preorder The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms on Amazon!. And it’s actually coming up in the search results now, bigger yay!

Go see “Sleep Dealer”!

Just saw this film and it was phenomenal. Go see it!

(No nuanced critique, sorry; no coffee yet.)


I’ve been sitting on this for a few days now, bouncing in virtual little-girl excitement, struggling to hold it all in. But now at last, at last I can share the joy!!

The official cover!!

Like it? Then bop over to the Orbit blog to tell Art Director Lauren Panepinto that she is the shit. Except don’t use shit. OK you can use it but don’t tell her I told you to.


Seething envy — uh, I mean, love and admiration!

Am currently reading Kate Griffin’s A Madness of Angels, start of a magnificent urban fantasy series that’s far more China Mieville than Jim Butcher. (No offense to Butcher, whose stuff I like too; just noting that he’s kind of more typical of the genre than CM.) The story follows an “urban sorcerer” named Matthew Swift on his quest through the magical underworld of London as he tries to find out who a) killed him, and b) brought him back to life.

And… (grr) it’s good. I mean (snarr) really good. So good that (gnash) I’m finding myself… well, a bit jealous. Because see (ARGH WHYYYYY), I like her writing better than my own.

Which is disingenuous. I started writing years ago because the kinds of stories I wanted to read just weren’t being published fast enough for my tastes. This book is that kind of story. And I’m happy. Seriously — you have no idea how happy it makes me to crack open a book unawares and be instantly hooked into a story, then be dragged along by those hooks, in bliss. But at the same time, I can’t help feeling a little professional competitiveness. This is the kind of prose I love to write, but can’t sustain for long periods of time. I don’t have the… hrrm, the endurance? I’m not capable of telling a whole story with this kind of chewy, dense prose. I would gorge myself into a stupor on the deliciousness of my own description, wander far afield from the plot, and never return.

So here’s a writer who does what I yearn to do. This is the kind of book I’ve always wanted to write. But I didn’t write it, so in addition to being delighted, I’m also insanely, giddily jealous.

Well, no biggie; I’ll get over it.

Anyway, in the meantime (rraarrgh), go buy Griffin’s book!

Describing characters of color in writing

Some examples from my own writing, submitted for your consideration. Not a claim of correctness or The Best Way or anything of the sort. Just my way. And yeah, this is in part inspired by a certain very lengthy discussion of race, representation, and respect in the SF/F community that took place recently in the blogosphere. But I also just felt like sharing.

ETA: And because this post continues to get hits months later, folks might be interested in Part 2, which was posted at the Magic District, and part 3, written a few months later.

Some of this is published, some forthcoming, some is not pub’d and never shall be. Taken from shorts and novels.

Across the park’s wide avenue stood a new figure. He had depicted himself as a tall middle-aged male, Shanghainese and dignified, dressed in an outdated business suit.

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100K update

…I had kind of mentioned this to friends and in passing, but hadn’t posted about it yet because there was still some up-in-the-airness going on. Anyway tho’, the official release date for The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is now February 2010. February 25, specifically, at least according to Amazon. (Quiet squee at the fact that MY BOOK IS ON AMAZON!!! …kinda. It’s not searchable on the US Amazon; I found it because it’s searchable on the UK Amazon and the US one is linked to that. Or something. Anyway, you might wanna bookmark that sucker; it’s slippery.)

As for why it got pushed back from Fall 2009, the date I’ve been shrieking at the top of my lungs since the book sold… well, here’s where my n00b ignorance of the book industry shows; see, it was never actually definite for Fall 2009. That was a tentative date. My bad. ::sheepish look:: So — rumor control — nothing shady’s going on, nobody’s dropping all their debut authors, no there’s been no prima donna-ing on my part (good grief, I’m a new author; you think I’m a moron?), all revisions and copyedits were turned in on time, everything’s fine. This is just how things go sometimes. And heck — just gives me more time to plan my launch celebration. =)

…Definitely a tattoo.