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Jemisin, N K

Entry updated 7 August 2023. Tagged: Author.

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(1972-    ) US psychologist and author, mostly of fantasy, who began publishing work of genre interest with "L'Alchimista" in Scattered, Covered, Smothered (anth 2004) edited by Jason Erik Lundberg, and who is best known for her first two sequences. The Inheritance Trilogy – comprising The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms (2010), which won a Locus Award for best first novel, The Broken Kingdoms (2010) and The Kingdom of Gods (2011) – can be understood in terms of dynastic fantasy, but the intricacy of the worldbuilding, and the complexity of a shaping Mythology which functions as far more than convenient backstory, give a sense that Jemisin has engaged upon an extensive exploration of the possibilities of Fantastika in general. Similarly the Dreamblood sequence comprising The Killing Moon (2012) and The Shadowed Sun (2012) can be understood as transcending its cod analogies to the mysteries of Ancient Egypt. Both series clearly address a range of Gender issues (see also Feminism). In the Great Cities Duology beginning with The City We Became (2020), New York is seen as chthonically animate; a threat from an H P Lovecraft-evoking deepness out of a Dimension inimical to Cities inspires the manifestation of its various boroughs as human avatars, who gather together [for Animate/Inanimate, Avatar and Seven Samurai see The Encyclopedia of Fantasy under links below] in an attempt to use their Psi Powers to keep the great city intact, and in a nontrivial sense holy. It won a BSFA Award for best novel and a Locus Award for best fantasy novel. The wider Multiverse which houses the sequel, The World We Make (2022), allows room for freer Satire in a narrative that includes a New York mayoral candidate who claims he will Make New York Great Again.

Some of the stories assembled in Systems Fail (coll 2014) with Hiromi Goto are sf. The Broken Earth sequence beginning with The Fifth Season (2015), though fantasy in its timbre, is set in a world where relationships between "normals" and Posthumans refracts and examines contemporary prejudices (see Race in SF). This book won the 2016 Hugo award for best novel, and was followed by The Obelisk Gate (2016), whose Dying Earth texture, with Magic and Technology inextricably mixed, is even more riddled with complexities, as a second generation of protagonists enters the picture; it won the 2017 Hugo for best novel. The third volume in the sequence, The Stone Sky (2017), focuses on relationships between family romance and the fate of the planet; this received a Locus Award for best fantasy novel and both the Nebula and the Hugo for best novel. The awarding of three successive Hugos for the three volumes of a trilogy is an unprecedented acknowledgement of popularity. Jemisin is also an influential blogger.

Jemisin has not focused heavily on short sf, though some of the tales assembled as How Long 'til Black Future Month? (coll 2019) are sf, including "Walking Awake" (June 2014 Lightspeed), whose protagonist is possessed by an Alien; this book won a Locus Award as best collection. Emergency Skin (2019 ebook) won a Hugo as best novelette. Far Sector (graph 2021) with Jamal Campbell won a Hugo as best Graphic Novel. [JC]

Nora Keita Jemisin

born Iowa City, Iowa: 19 September 1972



The Inheritance Trilogy


The Broken Earth

The Great Cities Duology

  • The City We Became (New York: Orbit, 2020) [The Great Cities Duology: hb/Lauren Panepinto]
  • The World We Make (New York: Orbit, 2022) [The Great Cities Duology: hb/Lauren Panepinto]

individual titles

collections and stories

  • Systems Fail (Seattle, Washington: Aqueduct Press, 2014) with Hiromi Goto [coll: each author taking approximately half the volume: pb/Lynne Jensen Lampe]
  • How Long 'til Black Future Month? (New York: Orbit, 2019) [coll: hb/Lauren Panepinto]
  • Emergency Skin (no place given: Amazon Original Stories, 2019) [novelette: ebook: na/]

graphic works

  • Far Sector (New York: DC Comics, 2021) with Jamal Campbell [graph: illus/hb/Jamal Campbell]

works as editor


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