New Suns

Original Speculative Fiction by People of Color

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Pub Date 18 Mar 2019 | Archive Date 18 Mar 2019

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"There's nothing new under the sun, but there are new suns," proclaimed Octavia E. Butler. 

New Suns: Original Speculative Fiction by People of Colour showcases emerging and seasoned writers of many races telling stories filled with shocking delights, powerful visions of the familiar made strange. 

Between this book's covers burn tales of science fiction, fantasy, horror, and their indefinable overlappings. These are authors aware of our many possible pasts and futures, authors freed of stereotypes and cliche, ready to dazzle you with their daring genius. 

Unexpected brilliance shines forth from every page. 

Foreword by LeVar Burton and Afterword by Nisi Shawl

"There's nothing new under the sun, but there are new suns," proclaimed Octavia E. Butler. 

New Suns: Original Speculative Fiction by People of Colour showcases emerging and seasoned writers of many...

A Note From the Publisher

Foreword by LeVar Burton and Afterword by Nisi Shawl. Includes stories by Kathleen Alcala, Minsoo Kang, Anil Menon, Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Alex Jennings, Alberto Yanez, Steven Barnes, Jaymee Goh, Karin Lowachee, E. Lily Yu, Andrea Hairston, Tobias Buckell, Hiromi Goto, Rebecca Roanhorse, Indrapramit Das, Chinelo Onwualu and Darcie Little Badger.

Foreword by LeVar Burton and Afterword by Nisi Shawl. Includes stories by Kathleen Alcala, Minsoo Kang, Anil Menon, Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Alex Jennings, Alberto Yanez, Steven Barnes, Jaymee Goh...

Available Editions

EDITION Other Format
ISBN 9781781086384
PRICE $16.99 (USD)

Average rating from 93 members

Featured Reviews

This is an excellent anthology. Much of the most dynamic and powerful speculative fiction at this point in time is being written by people of color, and this book gives an excellent sampling. I cannot write about all the stories individually in this comment, but I will mention the ones I particularly loved. Tobias Buckell's "Galactic Tourist Industrial Complex" gives a satirical and very funny description of a future in which the entire Earth has become a backwater that subsists entirely on tourism from wealthier and more technologically powerful species from other planets. This story brings home post-colonial dependency to American readers who might well themselves be on the other side of the equation (as tourists in poorer countries themselves). Kathleen Alcala's "Deer Dancer" shows how indigenous ways might give the best hope for survival in a decayed post-climate-catastrophe landscape. Minsoo Kang's "The Virtue of Unfaithful Translations" is a witty parable about surviving the stupidity of the powerful, and about the limitations of scholarly and historical reconstruction, in an Asian-based fantasy world. Steven Barnes' Come Home to Atropos goes along well with Buckell's story, as it is a sarcastic take on the tourist economy of poorer, post-colonial countries seeking to attract dollars from the affluent white world; in this story, even suicide becomes a fancy and "exotic" experience. Jaymee Goh's "The Freedom of the Shifting Sea" brilliantly rewrites the mermaid tale in terms both of white/Asian colonial relations, and of some rather unusual (but actual) facts of biology. Lily Yu's "Three Variations on a Theme of Imperial Attire" sarcastically rings a number of social and political changes on Hans Christian Anderson's tale of The Emperor's New Clothes. Those are my favorites, but in fact all the stories in this anthology are really good.

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I was excited when I saw this book was available for review. It’s the crossroads of two personal favorites—short stories and speculative fiction. If that second term is unfamiliar to you I first came across it in the late ‘60s, early ‘70s among writers who felt that the term “science fiction” was restrictive and outdated. Speculative fiction would not be held to the realm of spaceships and bug-eyed monsters. The goal was to open areas of exploration that could include any possible source for a story. Some of what emerged was pretentious and self-indulgent. The rest offered some astounding new ideas. For me, the term makes me think of the writing of Harlan Ellison, and the first title that comes to mind is “I Have No Mouth, But I Must Scream”. A psychological horror story in the realm of science fiction, it’s a tour de force.

So, I opened this volume with great anticipation and was rewarded in full measure. The stories range widely. Some take new approaches to familiar ideas, some introduce us to new concepts from other (meaning non-white/European) sources. Unifying them all is the quality of the writing.  Well told stories and carefully crafted words give the reader a satisfying experience.

Imagine my delight to discover a foreword by LeVar Burton. Burton’s career has been its own intersection of science fiction and books. He sets a high standard for the collection when he writes:

“These are voices that are sorely needed if we are to chart a course for humanity that does not result in the destructive practices of our past.”

I agree with Burton.  Best of all, these writers are up to leading us to the goal. The result is a fascinating collection of stories that grow from creative environments different from most of our reading. It is well worth your time to explore and savor.

As with any collection like this, not all the stories grabbed me, but none of them disappointed. I have starred (*) the stories that were my particular favorites.

• The Galactic Tourist Industrial Complex by Tobias Buckell—Earth is a second-rate planet trying to get by as a tourist attraction. And the newest attraction may be a problem.
• Deer Dance by Kathleen Alcala–Learning to live, and learning to dream.
• *The Virtue of Unfaithful Translation by Minsoo Kang– Sometimes the powerful are best served by an unfaithful servant.
• Come Home to Atropos by Steven Barnes–A new resort island with an ancient attraction.
• The Fine Print by Chinelo Onwualu–Be careful what you wish for, everything comes with a price.
• unkind of mercy by Alex Jennings–There are others, and sometimes they reach into our world. Then the world changes.
• Burn the Ships by Alberto Yanez
• The Freedom of the Shifting Sea by Jaymee Goh
• Three Variations on a Theme of Imperial Attire by E. Lily Yu
• Blood and Bells by Karin Lowachee
• Give Me Your Black Wings Oh Sister by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
• The Shadow We Cast Through Time by Indrapramit Das
• The Robots of Eden by Anil Menon
• *Dumb House by Andrea Hairston -The increasing growth of an information-based economy means that the pressure will grow on those who don’t want to play the game.
• One Easy Trick by Hiromi Goto
• Harvest by Rebecca Roanhorse
• *Kelsey and the Burdened Breath by Darcie Little Badger - The final breath is the departure of the spirit. But not all spirits go gently.

I reviewed this book based on an Advance Reader Copy and it is consistent with my Review Standards.

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Excellent collection. Great mix of horror, fantasy, sci fi elements! Not for general teen consumption but I’ll be buying for my personal collection.

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I know it isn't exactly the done thing but I want to start by showing some serious love for this cover. I had to do a bit of searching because the info wasn't anywhere obvious in my copy but the artist is Yoshi Yoshitani and looking at her website I am utterly obsessed. I might need a print of this cover because I love it so much.

But we all know better than to judge a book by its cover now don't we? I have, in the past, found anthologies in general, as well as ones from Rebellion Publishing a little hit or miss, I adored Infinity Wars, I thought Not So Stories was good, me and The Outcast Hours were a little at odds, so I went into this without too high expectations, but also with the knowledge that there would be at least a couple of stories that would hit high for me.

It actually took until the eighth story for me to find one that I didn't like. I won't spoil it for you but there were a lot of mentions of mandibles that I wasn't quite sure about. But the majority of the short stories in this anthology are at least fun and at best amazing. I loved reading about what a cab driver in a more intergalactic New York might be like, there's some interesting conjecture on a world where people are somehow separate from their own minds, a sort of ghost hunter narrative and more. Where some anthologies stick to either fantasy or science fiction this one certainly takes speculative to mean much more than even those two words, taking in alternate history as well as other nuances of genre.

I thought that reading the editors note (which in my version is an afterword and comes at the end of the book, perhaps it would have been more impactful to have it at the start?) was where the significance of this anthology really came through. Nisi Shawl talks about the fact that writers of colour have always been writing speculative fiction, they are not a modern 'phenomenon'. But it is true that the group is growing, publishing has a long way to go, let's not pretend it doesn't when we see statistics telling us that only 7% of the children's books published in 2017 were written by black, latinx and Native authors. But this book is a celebration, a welcoming of authors of colour. To quote Nisi Shawl:

That was then. This is now - a time when the anthology you hold in your hands could easily have filled multiple volumes, when I never even got to issue a public call for stories because I received plenty merely by asking the writers of color I personally know.

Nisi Shawl also recognises that this is not the first anthology to bring together the works of writers of colour, nor is it or should it be the be-all and end-all of this kind of publishing. But this was a really strong addition to Rebellion's list and I hope to read more of the works of these authors in the future.

My rating: 4/5 stars

I received a free digital advanced review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

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Shawl has pulled together a star-studded (rising and established) group of authors for a fabulous collection of speculative fiction drawing on the experiences of people of color. It spans fantasy, science fiction, and horror--and everything in between--drawing on the experiences and mythology of it’s authors--Indian, African American, Asian, and Indigenous Peoples. Standouts include pieces by Rebecca Roanhorse, Steven Barnes, Jaymee Goh, and Tobias Bucknell--just to name a few--along with a fabulously political introduction by LeVar Burton. Everyone should give this a try.

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