Next up on the review list from the Hugo Awards is N.K. Jemison’s Emergency Skin, the winner for best novelette for 2020. For those of you unfamiliar with Ms. Jemisin, she is a multiple Hugo Award winner for her Broken Earth novels, as well as other accolades too numerous to mention. Emergency Skin is part of the Forward Collection (Amazon Original Stories) which contains a total of six stories from Veronica Roth, Andy Weir, and four others. The editor, Blake Crouch, came up with the idea of asking some of his favorite authors to write about emerging technologies and how they may affect the earth, our society, and who we are.
Emergency Skin takes us to a future Earth where an explorer is assigned the task of finding HELA cells on an Earth decimated by climate change. Coming from a space station where only the upper class (male and white) are allowed to have skin, he lives inside a bag to protect himself. Told that the dangers are many and that he may not return, he is shocked to discover that Earth and its people are far more resilient than anyone could have imagined.
Told in the second person, it was a clever way to reveal the fears and suspicions of the main character while learning more about his journey. Ms. Jemisin doesn’t hold back on her views of a world without colonizers, and I find her vision rather appealing, though a tad heavy-handed. [SPOILERS] It would have been nice if she had the time and space to explore how those left on Earth could so easily band together to solve society’s most devastating problems; however, I found the combination of humor and sci-fi tech in a world in which people actually try to solve problems to be refreshing.
It’s reminder of what we can accomplish when the narcissists and misogynists are removed from the picture.
Creative Team: N.K. Jemisin (writer)
Publisher: Amazon Original Stories
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