Fiction Review: Emergency Skin by N.K. Jemisin

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Emergency Skin (2020 Hugo Award Winner for Best Novelette) is my first introduction to Jemisin’s work and it’s extraordinarily clever and timely, if slightly difficult to read. I purchased a copy of this for my Amazon Kindle.

Emergency Skin is published by Amazon Original Stories as one of a collection of six books — other authors are Veronica Roth, Blake Crouch, Amor Towles, Paul Tremblay and Andy Weir:

The explorer in question has a voice in his head, that of his superiors and the story is told second person through these voices and the explorer’s response. The conversation between him and other people is missed out, leaving us as the reader, to fill in the gaps. It did work, but to me felt awkward and by the time I was able to get into the flow of the text, the story was nearly over.

The story itself is accomplished, subversive and incredibly well-handled — a lot of authors couldn’t write the story with anything close to the same lightness of hand. At no point does it feel like it’s preaching, yet it portents of our own future without shying away from current political and social issues. It’s brave, confident and startling. As the story unfolds and we gather more details, exactly like the explorer does, we reach (hopefully!) similar conclusions.

It’s ultimately a piece that will stay a while in your head, asking questions like “what does it mean to be human?” and “what are the intentions of those that make the decisions for us?” and “can those making the decisions ultimately be trusted?”

Will this entice me to read more of Jemisin’s work? Absolutely.

Book Details

Emergency Skin by N.K. JemisinPublication Title: Emergency Skin
Series: Forward Collection #3
Author: N. K. Jemisin
Publisher: Amazon Original Stories
Publication Date: 17th September 2019

What will become of our self-destructed planet? The answer shatters all expectations in this subversive speculation from the Hugo Award–winning author of the Broken Earth trilogy.

An explorer returns to gather information from a climate-ravaged Earth that his ancestors, and others among the planet’s finest, fled centuries ago. The mission comes with a warning: a graveyard world awaits him. But so do those left behind—hopeless and unbeautiful wastes of humanity who should have died out eons ago. After all this time, there’s no telling how they’ve devolved. Steel yourself, soldier. Get in. Get out. And try not to stare.

N. K. Jemisin’s Emergency Skin is part of Forward, a collection of six stories of the near and far future from out-of-this-world authors. Each piece can be read or listened to in a single thought-provoking sitting.

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