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Johnson, Alaya Dawn

Entry updated 1 April 2024. Tagged: Author.

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(1982-    ) US author who began to publish work of genre interest with "Shard of Glass" in Strange Horizons for February 2005, and most of whose work has been Fantasy: including the Spirit Binders sequence beginning with Racing the Dark (2007), which is set in Polynesia before the whites came, and featuring characters in control of the spirit world; and the Zephyr Hollis sequence beginning with Moonshine (2010), featuring a Vampire in New York. This second series can be understood as Urban Fantasy [see The Encyclopedia of Fantasy under links below], but edged sideways through its setting in an Alternate World 1920s. More recently, she has published two Young Adult sf novels. The Summer Prince (2013) is set in a complexly described Brazil in the distant Near Future, a matriarchal Dystopia whose culture flamboyantly focuses on a five-year cycle, at the climax of which a year king selects a new Queen and dies. The love triangle almost axiomatic in the Young Adult category is here radically enlivened and darkened through the protagonists' exposure to the destiny looming before them. Set in a Near Future Washington, Love Is a Drug (2015), which won a 2015 Nebula award for best Young Adult Novel (Andre Norton Award), combines coming-of-age delicacies with a political conspiracy plot involving induced Amnesia. The protagonist's gaining her memory and her love and an understanding of her role in a disturbed world is narrated with a sense of newness. In the same year Johnson also won the Nebula for best novelette with "A Guide to the Fruits of Hawai'i" (July/August 2014 F&SF).

Her Trouble the Saints (2020), a further Urban Fantasy set in the underworld of New York early in World War Two, won a World Fantasy Award as best novel. The Library of Broken Worlds (2023) won a BSFA Award as best fiction for younger readers. [JC]

Alaya Dawn Johnson

born Washington, District of Columbia: 31 March 1982



Spirit Binders

Zephyr Hollis

  • Moonshine (New York: St Martin's Press/Thomas Dunne Books, 2010) as Alaya Johnson [Zephyr Hollis: hb/]
  • Wicked City (New York: St Martin's Press/Thomas Dunne Books, 2012) as Alaya Johnson [Zephyr Hollis: hb/]
  • The Inconstant Moon (New York: Original, 2012) [novelette: ebook: Zephyr Hollis: na/Jonathan Bartlett]

individual titles


  • Metamorphosis (Seattle Washington: Aqueduct Press, 2013) with Kim Stanley Robinson [coll: each author taking approximately half the volume: in the publisher's WisCon Guest of Honor Offerings series: pb/Kathryn Wilham]
  • Reconstruction (Easthampton, Massachusetts: Small Beer Press, 2021) [coll: pb/]


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