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New Suns: Original Speculative Fiction by People of Color

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New Suns: Original Speculative Fiction by People of Color 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 clichéd expectations, ready to dazzle you with their daring genius

Unexploited brilliance shines forth from every page. 

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, LeVar Burton
The Galactic Tourist Industrial Complex, Tobias S. Buckell
Deer Dancer, Kathleen Alcala
The Virtue of Unfaithful Translations, Minsoo Kang
Come Home to Atropos, Steven Barnes
The Fine Print, Chinelo Onwualu
unkind of mercy, Alex Jennings
Burn the Ships, Alberto Yanez
The Freedom of the Shifting Sea, Jaymee Goh
Three Variations on a Theme of Imperial Attire, E. Lily Yu
Blood and Bells, Karin Lowachee
Give Me Your Black Wings Oh Sister, Silvia Moreno-Garcia
The Shadow We Cast Through Time, Indrapramit Das
The Robots of Eden, Anil Menon
Dumb House, Andrea Hairston
One Easy Trick, Hiromi Goto
Harvest, Rebecca Roanhorse
Kelsey and the Burdened Breath, Darcie Little Badger
Afterword, Nisi Shawl

279 pages, Paperback

First published March 12, 2019

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About the author

Nisi Shawl

121 books489 followers
Nisi Shawl is a founder of the diversity-in-speculative-fiction nonprofit the Carl Brandon Society and serves on the Board of Directors of the Clarion West Writers’ Workshop. Their story collection Filter House was a winner of the 2009 Tiptree/Otherwise Award, and their debut novel, Everfair, was a 2016 Nebula finalist. Shawl edited Bloodchildren: Stories by the Octavia E. Butler Scholars (2013). They coedited Strange Matings: Science Fiction, Feminism, African American Voices, and Octavia E. Butler (2013).

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 402 reviews
Profile Image for Monica.
592 reviews621 followers
March 30, 2020
An anthology of speculative fiction written by people of color. This was one of my kindle sale random adds. I knew nothing about the book prior to purchasing it and it was not on my tbr. It's a mixed bag with some stories capturing my attention more than others. I appreciated the varying points of view and a few of these stories were brilliant.

Impressions on the stories were as follows:

My favorites were "The Robots of Eden" which was brilliant and poignant and "One Easy Trick" which was deeper than its light tone implied. This collection has more really good to excellent stories then meh. Always a good sign. Sometimes the shift in tone could be jarring between stories. Some of these are very dark and serious, others light and some had little to no "speculative"-ness to them. The cover art (which I think is really cool) does not correlate to any of the stories within the book. A good read overall, glad I gave into my whim and picked this up.

4 Stars

Read on kindle
Profile Image for Hannah.
591 reviews1,052 followers
March 3, 2019
I have read quite a few anthologies published by this publishing house and while short story anthologies are nearly always a mixed bag, I have always found some brilliant authors to follow. This book though did not work for me. I found most of the short stories disappointing and I did not finish reading all of them. I think I would have liked this more if there had been some kind of theme here. While I appreciate the idea of publishing short stories by authors of colour, I do think more cohesion would have improved my reading experience.

There were nonetheless a few stories that stood out for me and I feel the need to highlight them. I really enjoyed Rebecca Roanhorse’ take on the Deer Woman (“Harvest”) and thought the story was both poignant and impeccably structured. She is fast becoming one of most exciting SFF authors out there (I still have not read her Hugo winning short story but will have to remedy this as soon as possible). I found Chinelo Onwualu’s short story “The Fine Print” impressive in its interesting exploration of family and the ties that bind us. As always, the short story by Silvia Moreno-Garcia (“Give Me Your Black Wings Oh Sister”) was by far my favourite. I really do like the way here prose flows and her imagination sparkles and will definitely have to pick up some of her novels this year.

I received an ARC of this book courtesy of NetGalley and Rebellion Publishing in exchange for an honest review.

You can find this review and other thoughts on books on my blog.
Profile Image for Faith.
1,846 reviews516 followers
April 21, 2021
This anthology of short stories had only two stories that I really liked. It’s probably not a coincidence that they were satirical. In “Tourist Industrial Complex” by Tobias S. Buckell intergalactic tourists come to New York in search of an authentic experience. My favorite story was “Come Home to Atropos” by Steven Barnes. The Caribbean island of Atropos has ordered an infomercial to be promoted to primarily white upper class markets. The island is offering a unique service, but it is struggling to make the ambience appealing. “We need a variety of images of the beautiful people of Atropos, and the hospitality they can provide. Certainly we can find some who don’t look hungry? And no amputees, please.” They created the perfect spa “where our ancestors learned to work in the sun through long hours and with modest caloric intake.”

Most of the rest of the stories were just OK for me. There were a couple of stories that were so weird that they held my interest. “The Freedom of the Shifting Sea” by Jaycee Goh featured a lesbian mermaid/predator. In “One Easy Trick” by Hiromi Goto a woman’s belly fat drops off in the forest and develops the ability to speak. 3.5 stars

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.
Profile Image for 8stitches 9lives.
2,785 reviews1,625 followers
March 16, 2019
We all know that short story anthologies can be a somewhat hit and miss affair, so I tend to go into them with much trepidation as well as anticipation. That said, it is one of the best ways to discover new authors and genres you may have been missing out on. Fortunately, this turned out to be one of the best and most enjoyable collections I've read in many moons, and I feel strongly that diversity is definitely a key player in that. The seventeen stories presented are from a wide range of genres and indeed some encompass more than one specific genre. Needless to say, they are all original and intriguing. We need more people of colour in all genres of literature.

Each of the tales is well written, introduces us to new concepts and ideas, and promotes both established and fledgeling writers. From experience, Rebellion tend to be one of the most reliable for producing thoroughly enjoyable compendiums; this book is no exception. There is definite merit in arguing that we should not segregate authors by colour and include short stories only if they fit what the editor is looking for; that way we should see representation from all races. It just makes me sad that it seemingly has to be this way. Overall though, an enjoyable read. Speculative fiction fans will lap this up without a problem.

Many thanks to Rebellion Publishing/Solaris Books for an ARC.
Profile Image for Dana Kenedy (Dana and the Books).
208 reviews1,002 followers
March 14, 2019
Review also found at: https://danaandthebooks.com/2019/03/1...

A few months back I posted about the cover release for New Suns: Original Speculative Fiction by People of Color.  Rebellion Publishing was kind enough to also send over an advance reading copy for review.

Fantastic anthology with a wonderful range of stories.

While all seventeen stories brought something special to the anthology, the selection below are the ones that stood out to me during my read through. Now excuse me while I go look up more works from a bunch of these authors!
The Galactic Tourist Industrial Complex - Tobias Buckell

NYC cab driver Tavi's day didn't go so well when his cephaloid alien passenger steps out his flying cab and falls to his death. Dry humour everywhere and a wonderful picture of future New York's galactic tourism industry. A great story to kick off the anthology!

Come Home to Atropos - Steven Barnes

Loved this one! An infomercial script for euthanasia tourism to a Caribbean island geared towards rich white people. Cynical. Dark. Satirical. Unnervingly funny.

The Fine Print - Chinelo Onwualu

A Djinn story! Wishes are granted, but there's always a fine print. Great logic vs. bureaucracy battle.

Burn the Ships - Alberto Yáñez

Natives in a magic world rise up against their colonizers and includes some pretty dark magic. I would love to read a full length novel about this world!

Three Variations on a Theme of Imperial Attire - E. Lily Yu

Retelling of The Emperor's New Clothes by Hans Christian Andersen.  Bloody, chaotic, and hilarious. I lost it at "Ma, I can see his dick." This story was my favourite in the entire anthology!

One Easy Trick - Hiromi Goto

A woman literally loses her belly fat (like that episode of Doctor Who) and tries to get it back. Oh, and there's a talking bear. This was one the weirder stories in the collection. Weird is always good with me.


Thank you so much, Rebellion Publishing, for sending over a copy!

Book Links: Book Depository | Amazon US | Amazon UK
Profile Image for Mark.
Author 2 books4 followers
December 16, 2021
Ratings for individual stories:

1. Tobias S. Buckell - The Galactic Tourist Industrial Complex - ★★★★
2. Kathleen Alcalá - Deer Dancer - ★★★
3. Minsoo Kang - The Virtue of Unfaithful Translations - ★★★★★
4. Steven Barnes - Come Home to Atropos - ★★
5. Chinelo Onwualu - The Fine Print - ★★★
6. Alex Jennings - unkind of mercy - ��★★
7. Alberto Yáñez - Burn the Ships - ★★★★
8. Jaymee Goh - The Freedom of the Shifting Sea - ★★★★
9. E. Lily Yu - Three Variations on a Theme of Imperial Attire - ★★
10. Karin Lowachee - Blood and Bells - ★★★★★
11. Silvia Moreno-Garcia - Give Me Your Black Wings Oh Sister - ★★★
12. Indrapramit Das - The Shadow We Cast Through Time - ★★★★
13. Anil Menon - The Robots of Eden - ★★★
14. Andrea Hairston - Dumb House - ★★
15. Hiromi Goto - One Easy Trick - ★★★★
16. Rebecca Roanhorse - Harvest - ★★★★★
17. Darcie Little Badger - Kelsey and the Burdened Breath - ★★★★

This collection also includes a Foreward from LeVar Burton, an Afterword by Nisi Shawl, and short biographies of all the authors.
Profile Image for Denise.
352 reviews32 followers
March 11, 2019
I generally find anthologies tricky depending, as they do, on an editor’s goal for inclusion which may not match what I am hoping for. I also have an up and down affair with short stories as they take real skill to develop a world and characters in virtually no time at all- like magic!

I choose to read New Suns with the hope that I would walk away with a few new names of authors to keep in mind. Finding a new author is such a joy and I found several! My guess is that other readers may enjoy different writers than the ones I did, which is, to my thinking, the perfect raisin d’etre for an anthology.

Magic, in the form of well written short stories, will be found in New Suns. Read and find your new authors to follow!
Profile Image for Jess.
290 reviews50 followers
March 26, 2021
I plan to review this in a more detailed/helpful way from a computer, but for now I'll just say that this is a wonderful and wide-ranging collection. Aha! More review follows:

Galactic Tourist Industrial Complex by Tobias S. Buckell - I saw this recommended several places and getting a lot of love, and it was nice but didn't wow me. ★★½☆☆
Deer Dancer by Kathleen Alcalá - beautiful, understated, light on detail in a way that worked ★★★☆☆
The Virtue of Unfaithful Translations by Minsoo Kang - clever, cheeky, and sweet ★★★½☆
Come Home to Atropos by Steven Barnes - pithy and toothsome. My notes from this story read, "That was good but jesus christ. It's like I've read/watched White Oleander: I would throw myself off of something if I weren't too depressed to go to the effort." ★★★½☆
The Fine Print by Chinelo Unwualu - this was great; original, excellent story structure and critiques of consumerism/capitalism and toxic masculinity made it easier to overlook a slightly quick/simple resolution. ★★★★☆
unkind of mercy by Alex Jennings - excellently done. This was a sneaky one - you don't quite see where it's going until you get there and the reveal was well-executed. ★★★★☆
Burn the Ships by Alberto Yáñez - brilliant, gorgeous, wrenching and powerful. ★★★★½
The Freedom of the Shifting Sea by Jaymee Goh - lovely, quiet and quietly sad, and intensely unsettling. The Little Mermaid this is not, thank goodness. ★★★★☆
Three Variations on a Theme of Imperial Attire by E. Lily Yu - I loved this one! E. Lily Yu keeps being wonderful. Fairy tale (if that's the right term for this --fable, maybe?) retelling, plus metafiction, plus scathing political commentary. ★★★★½
Blood and Bells by Karen Lowachee - I really, really liked this dystopian story with heart. Neat use of Regierung (German for "government") as the base/root term for the owning class. Hopepunk for a dystopian world. ★★★★☆
Give Me Your Black Wings O Sister by Silvia Moreno-Garcia - short, dark, unsettling. Feels like more of a concept/snipppet than a story. But the language is nice. ★★★☆☆
The Shadow We Cast Through Time by Indrapramit Das - very dark, kind of horrifying, and a tad melodramatic. This reminds me just a little bit of Tanith Lee. ★★★☆☆
The Robots of Eden by Anil Menon - this story about what makes humans and fiction worthwhile (or not) was fabulous. In a future in which emotions are regulated by Brains, memories excised if they might prove too upsetting, a man and his ex-wife's new husband debate the relationship between people and stories. Loved it and wish to find more by this author. ★★★★½
Dumb House by Andrea Hairston - deliciously, deeply different and strange. I'm still not entirely sure what happened and I like it that way. No lengthy exposition, just "here you are." Also really nice to see a BIPOC womxn MC who is over 50. ★★★★☆
One Easy Trick by Hiromi Goto - surreal and incredibly strange story about... losing belly fat, complicated feelings about fat positivity, and talking bears. More or less. ★★★☆☆
Harvest by Rebecca Roanhorse - beautiful, disturbing by a lot. Don't trust deer women. ★★★☆☆
Kelsey and the Burdened Breath by Darcie Little Badger - so wonderfully different and mysterious! I love Pal. Also, now I want to know more about the author. ★★★½☆
275 reviews10 followers
February 7, 2020
All anthologies are uneven, but Nisi Shawl (who is a friend) is a superior editor, and there are many fine stories in this one. I want to single out Minsoo Kang's "The Virtue of Unfaithful Translations" which is pure comedy (and comedy is especially hard to write). I don't know if Kang was drawing on the old Doonesbury cartoons of Honey translating for Duke or not, but that's certainly what the story made me think of. Other favorites: Jaymee Goh's "The Freedom of the Shifting Sea," which re-envisions mermaid myths; E. Lily Yu's "Three Variations on a Theme of Imperial Attire," which delves deeper into whether or not the emperor has any clothes;ab Karin Lowachee's "Blood and Bells," about polarization and identity complexities' and Andrea Hairston's "Dumb House," which I think I would admire even if it didn't revisit the future of some of my favorite Hairston characters. Well worth your time.
Profile Image for Angela.
419 reviews846 followers
June 11, 2021
This is one of the best short story anthologies I have ever read. Normally I don't have so many new favorites with an anthology because by its nature not every new author will work for you but so many of the ones in this collection did. Below I will briefly list the stories that stick out to me:

The Virtue of Unfaifthful Translations by Minsoo Kang: This idea was perfect for the short story space and captivated me from beginning to end. Its a story about how two translators avoid a war but also has a unique twist on how we even recount stories like this in our histories once they are uncovered. It was truly fantastic.

Come Home to Atropos by Steven Barnes: I really liked the unique narrative framing of this, which again could only be done in the short story space. This is a commercial and in the commercial you see a picture of the future, and it is quite unsettling and thematically poignant and I really loved that about it.

The Freedom of the Shifting Sea by Jaymee Goh: Talk about a creepy love story. I was completely engaged the entire time I read this one. It is weird and won't be for everyone but I was very invested in this creature and the humans she interacted with and liked where the story went and really appreciated the narrative structure

Three Variations on a Theme of Imperial Attire by E. Lily Yu: Still not sure how I feel about the ending for this one but I LOVED the narrative structure. I always love being told a story by a storyteller and that's exactly what this story does. The fourth wall is very much its friend and thing escalate in very unsettling ways that kept me on the edge of my seat. I think this is one I will need to re-read to understand all the intentions but I really loved it.

The Shadow We Cast Through Time by Indrapramit Da: So this one is weird but I think it ended up working for me. Its a sci-fi on another planet but they get cut off from other planets so it becomes primitive and almost a creationist story for another race and I think that's just a really good trope for me. I don't think I understood all of it but I liked the atmosphere and learning about this world.

The Robots of Eden by Anil Menon: I liked this story cause at first I thought it was just a sci-fi contemporary and then I was like "NO WAY" once I figured out what was really going on. It was unsettling but also very believable and I didn't think it overstayed its welcome like it risked doing with how thematically strong the agenda felt to me.

One Easy Trick by Hiromi Goto: Such a weird story....but I couldn't stop reading it? Like in theory it shouldn't have worked as well as it did but I think I just loved the voice of the main character so much that even though some of the things were just absurd even in speculative space it worked for me.
Profile Image for Mike Finn.
1,175 reviews31 followers
May 15, 2020
I'm always hungry for voices in Speculative Fiction who have the gift of seeing the world - past, present and future - differently and who can help me step out of my world and into theirs.

I bought Nisi Shawl's 'New Suns - Original Speculative Fiction by People of Color' because I was already a fan of two of the writers, Karin Lowachee and Rebecca Roanhorse,

I'm happy that, from the seventeen stories in 'New Suns', I've found another seven new-to-me writers whose work I'd like to see more of.

I've given a brief outline of what appealed to me about my favourite stories in this collection and some details on the authors. I've listed the stories in the order that they appear in the collection.

I encourage you to try this collection. Your favourite stories might be different than mine.

'Deer Dancer' by Kathleen Alcalá
'Deer Dancer' is one of those (very) short pieces of speculative fiction that sparkle in the imagination like a shard of blown glass: bright, unique and with sharp edges.
In eight pages or so, a series of short scenes showed me a young woman called Tater and the communal life she leads in a future version of our world, a couple of generations after large scale climate change has forced people to find new ways to live. It's a story filled with magic and strength and hope. You can find my full review HERE

Kathleen Alcalá is a Clarion West graduate and instructor, the award-winning author of six books, a recent Whitely Fellow, and a previous Hugo House Writer in Residence. Her latest book, The Deepest Roots: Finding Food and Community on a Pacific Northwest Island, explores relationships with geography, history, and ethnicity.

'Coming Home To Atropos' by Steve Barnes

Steven Barnes' 'Coming Home To Atropos' has humour so dry it leaves you desiccated. Then you realise there was no humour, only long-deserved revenge.
The skin of an infomercial, designed to attract rich white folks who want to end their lives in comfort on a Caribbean island, is slowly peeled away to show the grinning skull underneath.

This is a sharp-edged story that cuts deep.

STEVEN BARNES is a New York Times bestselling author, screenwriter and educator who has written more than thirty science fiction, fantasy, and horror novels. Octavia E. Butler called Barnes’s Endeavor-Award winning novel Lion’s Blood “imaginative, well researched, well written, and devastating.”

'Unkind of Mercy' by Alex Jennings

Unkind of Mercy by Alex Jennings is a very disquieting tale, with a new kind of supernatural threat in New Orleans.

The threat itself is well-conceived and skilfully revealed but what really sells the story is the accuracy and credibility of the everyday life of the nineteen-year-old woman who stumbles into the threat. Everything about her life feels real and relatable, which makes the threat much more convincing.

Alex Jennings is a writer /teacher / performer living in New Orleans. He was born in Wiesbaden (Germany) and raised in Gaborone (Botswana), Tunis (Tunisia), Paramaribo (Surinam) and the United States. He constantly devours pop culture and writes mostly jokes on Twitter (@magicknegro).

'Burn The Ships' by Alberto Yáñez

'Burn The Ships' by Alberto Yáñez is a chilling riff on the conquest of the of Peru seen from the Inca point of view and with a very different ending, that challenges not just conquest but patriarchal theocracy.

This is a deeply atmospheric story about a clash of cultures, the nature of magic and a struggle between the submission of male magebloods to a hungry god and the anger of female magicians who will not abdicate their responsibility for the lives of their people to a god who sits back and does nothing.

Alberto Yáñez is a writer of fantasies, poetry, and essays on justice, agency and art, pop culture, and the absurdity of life. With the eye of a natural editor, he’s also a photographer with a documentarian’s approach to taking pictures.

'The Freedom of the Shifting Sea' by Jaymee Goh

'The Freedom of the Shifting Sea' by Jaymee Goh gives a 'mermaid' story that seems somehow more grounded and plausible than most and imagines a relationship that need not end up in pain and sacrifice, possibly because men are not involved.
I liked that the 'mermaid' is portrayed as alien and different, capable of great violence, who has a different sense of time passing but is still a person and a person who can be fascinated by women but sees men as a nuisance to be dealt with.

Jaymee Goh is a writer, reviewer, editor, and essayist of science fiction and fantasy. She graduated from the Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Workshop in 2016, and received her PhD in Comparative Literature from the University of California, Riverside, where she dissertated on steampunk and whiteness. She is a Malaysian citizen currently living in Berkeley, California

'Blood And Bells' by Karin Lowachee

I liked the energy of the speech pattern, almost a dialect, that Karin Lowachee told 'Blood and Bells' in. It helped to immerse me in a future where rival gangs are struggling to survive. It was never so dense that it got in the way and it gave a very distinctive flavour.

The world-building is deft and rapid, quickly creating a culture of violent confrontations, tribal loyalties and endless strife. The plot doesn't give in to the environment. Instead, it focus on the personal, on family and on finding a route to freedom.

Karin Lowachee is a Guyanese-born Canadian author of speculative fiction. She s the author of four novels, Warchild (2002), Burndive (2003), Cagebird (2005) and The Gaslight Dogs (2010).

'Give Me Your Black Wings Oh Sister' by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

'Give Me Your Black Wings Oh Sister' by Silvia Moreno-Garcia is an almost-fragment of a story, a sliver of a different reality but it's a sliver that slips between the lower ribs into your liver.

I liked how normality was made to feel fragile and difficult to sustain, as if it were an illusion you cling to to distract yourself from the darkness you know is inside you but are trying not to deny.

Silvia Moreno-Garcia is the author of the novels Gods of Jade and Shadow, Certain Dark Things, Untamed Shore, and a bunch of other books. She has also edited several anthologies, including the World Fantasy Award-winning She Walks in Shadows (a.k.a. Cthulhu's Daughters). She describes herself as 'Mexican by birth, Canadian by inclination.'

'Harvest' by Rebecca Roanhorse

'Harvest' by Rebecca has a tone that I found irresistible. Its a siren call or seduction, possession, submission and sacrifice. It's filled with blood and beauty and deeply felt grief and the total satisfaction that comes of surrendering yourself to someone you are intoxicated with.

This is the story of Tansi, who falls in love with a Deer Woman, for whom she harvests hearts. The story starts with a warning:
NEVER FALL IN love with a deer woman. Deer women are wild and without reason. Their lips are soft as evensong, their skin dark as the mysteries of a moonless forest. A deer woman will make you do terrible things for a chance to dip your fingers inside her, to have her taste linger on your tongue. You will weep before it is over, the cries of one who has no relatives. But you will do whatever she asks.
But who listens to warnings like that? Especially when they're young and in love and well-trained in butchering meat?

Rebecca Roanhorse is a Nebula and Hugo Award-winning speculative fiction writer and the recipient of the 2018 Campbell Award for Best New Writer. Her work has also been a finalist for the Sturgeon, Locus and World Fantasy awards. Her novel Trail of Lightning was selected as an Amazon, B&N, and NPR Best Book of 2018. She lives in Northern New Mexico with her husband, daughter, and pug.

'Kelsey and the Burdened Breath' by Darcie Little Badger

This is a cleverly wrought 'What if?' story. It takes an original idea, 'What if everyone knew that the last breath of dying people and animals carried their essence somewhere?' Then it thinks through what that would mean. Where would last breaths go? Would they need any help? Then it adds two more 'What ifs': 'What if they didn't want to go?' and 'What if some of them were predators?'

What makes this more than a neat story about the consequences of a good idea is that the story focuses not on the ideas but on a woman living alone in her dead parents' farmhouse with the Last Breath of her dog, Pal for company. Kelsey is the person who gives Last Breaths the help they need. She' also the one who gets called on the rare occasions when Last Breaths are a threat. The story is richer both because Kelsey is likeable and relatable and because Kelsey's journey isn't really about what Last Breaths do but about the choices the living get to make.

Darcie Little Badger s an Earth scientist, writer, and fan of the weird, beautiful, and haunted. Her first novel, ELATSOE, is coming Summer 2020!

She has a BA in Geosciences from Princeton University and a PhD in Oceanography from Texas A&M University.
Profile Image for ONYX Pages.
50 reviews353 followers
November 10, 2019
4.5 Really enjoyed all the new speculative fiction! Great concept - great variety - interesting themes!
Profile Image for Lukasz.
1,310 reviews210 followers
December 5, 2018
ARC through NetGalley

Actual rating: 2.5/5

New Suns: Original Speculative Fiction by People of Colour, edited by Nishi Shawl, assembles science fiction, fantasy and horror stories by new and veteran authors. I'm in the mood for more Sci-fi. And I appreciate good covers and this one looks stunning. Yoshi Yoshitani's art rocks. I wonder why more authors don't get their art from him.

I have a love/hate relationship with anthologies. Let's face it - each anthology is a grab bag. In a batch of stories, some will hook me, some won't.

The art of short fiction is damn difficult. An author has only a few pages to hook me and make me root for the characters. Not an easy task. My ratings of short stories are always brutal. I'm not trying to deconstruct them to assess their structure, prose, crucial plot points. Nope. I rate my enjoyment. The stories that get one star from will become other readers' favourites.

Below you'll find my thoughts on all stories assembled in New Suns.

Galactic Tourist Industrial Complex by Tobias S. Buckell - 4.5/5

A fun one. Intergalactic tourism became the main source of income for US citizens. Aliens seek for a real American experience and they want a full range of what's Earth has to offer.

When a stoned alien cephaloid falls to his death from a flying cab, intergalactic relationships become tricky. And no one desires complications when and where money is involved.

Smart, entertaining and well written. I loved it.

Deer Dancer by Kathleen Alcala - 2.5/5

A decent read showing that indigenous ways can increase the chances of survival in a decayed reality. Not surprising but interesting nonetheless. The weakest part of the story - forgettable characters.

The Virtue of Unfaithful Translations by Minsoo Kang - 1/5

Well written, but wordy and descriptive. I won't lie - it bored me.

Approach it as a tale about the limitations of scholarly and historical reconstruction, set in an Asian-based fantasy world.

Come Home to Atropos by Steven Barnes - 3/5

Short and decent, it offers an interesting take on the tourist economy of post-colonial countries. It seems even suicide can become an exotic and desired experience.

The Fine Print by Chinelo Onwualu - 5/5

An excellent story about human desires, paternal loves and djinni. I loved it. It has a strong opening, it engages the reader emotionally and delivers a nice ending.

Quality stuff.

unkind mercy by Alex Jennings - 3/5

Ok. I didn't find it thrilling but it's clever. I appreciate it, but don't particularly like it.

Burn the Ships by Alberto Yáñez - 2/5

Nope. Nothing in this story worked for me. I'm sure other readers will enjoy it, though.

The Freedom of the Shifting Sea by Jaymee Goh - 1/5

I liked the idea of a mermaid tale retelling. Eunice Aphroditois - an aquatic predator, known also as a Bobbit Worm, is a top pick for such a retelling.

The story, though, with its porno-horror vibe and fatal fellatio didn't appeal to me at all.

Three Variations on a Theme of Imperial Attire by E. Lily Yu - 3/5

An interesting and bloody reinterpretation of Hans Christian Anderson’s tale of The Emperor’s New Clothes. I liked it.

Blood and Bells Karin Lowachee

Give Me Your Black Wings Oh Sister by Silvia Moreno-Garcia - 3/5

The Shadow We Cast Through Time by Indrapramit Das - 2.5/5

The story features exoplanetary folklore, deep space myth, and extraterrestrial demons that wear the bodies of our dead. Interesting, but experience proves Indra Das's writing isn't for me. Nothing wrong with it, I'm sure others will love it. I simply don't feel it. His flow isn't mine.

The Robots of Eden by Anil Menon - 2.5/5

The story tries to see if post-humans outgrew their need for fiction. In the end, children outgrow their imaginary friends.

Great idea, decent execution.

Dumb House by Andrea Hairston - 3.5/5

It's an episode/vignette presenting the life of Cinnamon Jones, an old tech geek who used to love the theatre. After the Water Wars, she lives in a dumb house on her grandparents’ heirloom farm with her dog, Bruja, and three Circus-Bots.

Weird(ish) and interesting.

One Easy Trick, Hiromi Goto - 2/5

On a day off in the forest, Marnie loses her belly fat somewhere along the way. It literally disappears. Her voluminous belly roll is gone and she doesn't know if she should rejoice or despair. Her friend thinks Marnie had done a surgery somewhere in Mexico and feels betrayed.

Marnie returns to the forest to find her Bellyfat.

It's a weird story with interesting ideas. Ultimately, though, it didn't convince me. An ok read, but nothing more.

Harvest by Rebecca Roanhorse - 3.5/5

The story tries to answer the question is falling in love with Deer Woman a good idea. A bloody business. Well written and punchy.

Kelsey and the Burdened Breath, Darcie Little Badger - 3.5/5

Interesting take on gathering breaths (souls). I liked it and if I have any criticism it's the fact the story is a bit unclear.

All in all, I find the anthology rather disappointing. I like when a collection of short stories has a common theme/leitmotif. Here I see no such thing apart from authors' ethnicity and race.

Don't misunderstand me. I love the idea of promoting diversity in fantasy and sci-fi literature. That said, my reading expectations are very simple - I want to be thrilled. New Suns didn't thrill me. There were only two stories that spoke to me on a personal level. I didn't care much about the rest.
Profile Image for Amanda .
144 reviews26 followers
December 11, 2021
So many stories full of brilliant ideas and settings. I must add that I listened to the audio version and was very impressed by the narrator's skill of taking on so many different vocal styles and accents.

For reference, here's how I personally interpret the star ratings:
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ = Excellent
⭐⭐⭐⭐ = Good
⭐⭐⭐ = Average/okay
⭐⭐ = Disliked
⭐ = Hated

Galactic Tourist Industrial Complex, by Tobias S. Buckell
This one was fine. I have no strong opinions about it. The setting was pretty neat, even though there didn't feel like there was a whole lot of substance to the story itself. It kind of felt like the author had some wild ideas and just sat down and explored them and there's nothing wrong with that at all, though it felt like it needed a little something more. Cool cephalopod-like aliens, though. 3 stars

Deer Dancer, by Kathleen Alcalá
Much like the first, all I can say was this one was fine. Nothing wrong with it, but not really anything that left much of an impression on me. 3 stars.

The Virtue of Unfaithful Translations by Minsoo Kang
The third in a row where all I can say was it wasn't bad. That being said, I did like this one a little less than the previous two, and the reason why is that this one just felt very distant and told, rather than being in medias res where we're alongside characters as they do things. This story honestly felt like a history lesson being told, which just isn't my cup of tea. I did like the idea behind these two interpreters both helping to avoid a war via their unfaithful translations, but other than that, I don't really have much else to say about this story. 2.5 stars

Come Home to Atropos by Steven Barnes
Unconventional, but in a much more interesting way than the previous story. I don't want to say a lot about it, as it's very short and best experienced, I'd say, without knowing what you're in for going into it, but I can say that I liked this one quite well. Very engaging, creative, and thought-provoking. 4 stars

The Fine Print by Chinelo Unwualu
Yet another that I don't have super strong feelings about, but I must acknowledge the creative world-building and ideas that went into it. I'm personally not a fan of wildly misogynistic worlds/cultures, even when I know it's being used with purpose. I just can't really get into things like that too much, so that was one thing that wasn't very appealing. All in all, this story was fine, even if it's not particularly my cup of tea. 3.25 stars

Unkind of Mercy by Alex Jennings
The first thing that struck me about this story was the strong, engaging character voice. This had very lively storytelling and was entertaining. I did feel a little unsatisfied by the plot overall, as so many things happened suddenly and felt a little skimmed over at times, but this wasn't a bad story at all. 3.5 stars

Burn the Ships by Alberto Yáñez
Gorgeous, evocative prose and magic filled this story and I enjoyed it all quite well. I also really liked the ending. 4 stars

The Freedom of the Shifting Sea by Jaymee Goh
Another story that had beautiful writing. Not a huge fan of the age-gap romance, but there was a lot of things in this story that were done very well. 4 stars

Three Variations on a Theme of Imperial Attire by E. Lily Yu
While fairy-tale retellings are usually not my favorite things ever, I really did like this one. E. Lily Yu did a good job keeping this story more personable, even when the scope widened at times, as the narration would always circle back to characters doing things in the moment, rather than exclusively summering events (such was the case in story #3). All in all, an enjoyable and clever story. 4 stars

Blood and Bells by Karen Lowachee
A very vibrant and engaging story. I liked the characters and relationships, and in particular the MC and the kid. A lot of times, children characters often aren't written in a way that's believable for their age, but I think that the author of this story really portrayed him well. Good story all around. 4 stars

Give Me Your Black Wings O Sister by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Short and powerful story with gripping, beautiful prose. Being so short, most of the world-building and magic came in quick glimpses, but I liked the ideas behind a lot of it. The ending did leave me concerned...4 stars

The Shadow We Cast Through Time by Indrapramit Das
There was a lot of interesting world-building in this one, but I can't say that I cared for it much as a story overall. The MC also annoyed me. The voice was just a little too flowery for my taste. 2.5 stars

The Robots of Eden by Anil Menon
This one was largely driven by its world-building as well, but unlike the previous story, it is much more focused on the characters and how they live within this fascinating (and rather frightening) future earth. Lots of interesting ideas and questions were raised over the course of this story, which I like in my sci-fi. 4 stars

Dumb House by Andrea Hairston
Not a bad story, but I can't say it pulled me in that much either. Maybe I would have liked it better if I'd eye-read it, as I was confused by a few things while I was listening. I did like the little touch of the characters eating soy cheese. I always get inordinately happy when I see characters have plant-based options in fiction. 3 stars

One Easy Trick by Hiromi Goto
Well, this has to be one of the weirdest stories I've ever read. A talking forest and bear are just the beginning and nothing special at all compared to when the MC's belly fat decides to run away from her in the woods. Wild, creative, and also a lot of fun. I really enjoyed this one. 4 stars

Harvest by Rebecca Roanhorse
Dark and beautifully written, this is definitely one of my favorites from this anthology. Things got a little murky towards then end, but overall I was very impressed by this story. 4.5 stars

Kelsey and the Burdened Breath by Darcie Little Badger
Wow, does Darcie Little Badger love ghostly dogs/pets... This story reminded me of a slightly more adult version of Elatsoe, while still having a lot of the same fun-loving charm. 3.5 stars

One quick note: I always write out my thoughts on each story right after I finish one, but now, as I go through these before posting this review, I'm finding it hard to remember some of the individual stories that I rated 4 stars. Maybe a lower rating for some of them is actually warranted. It's also possible I read too many too close to one another. But...I'm too lazy to go back and adjust the ratings right now.

Probably 3.5 stars for the anthology itself, but I'll round up since I was impressed by the audio narrator's skill.

Profile Image for Jacqie.
1,613 reviews74 followers
May 9, 2022
Popsugar 2022: an OwnVoices SFF

This is a really good anthology. It highlights speculative fiction of all sorts from people of color. Here's a list of the authors included: 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.

Tobias Buckell kicks off the collection with a tongue-in-cheek piece about a gig-economy driver just trying to get by ferrying Galactics (beings from alien worlds) around New York City. There's a dark, dark humor piece by Steven Barnes inviting people interested in dying to come to a beautiful tropical island country to perish (although their death might not be quite as peaceful as the ads portray). There's a piece on gang life and family love by Karin Lowachee that was quite touching. There is a story by Indrapramit Das that combines colony ships, alien "demons" and ecology along with a colonizing culture that has come to a disturbing accommodation with the planet's ecology. Hiromi Goto has a hilarious and yet sweet story about a woman whose belly fat jumps off of her during a hike in the woods and runs off like a cute little anime character, refusing to come back because the main character has never really come to terms with her belly fat.

The stories are all high quality and Nisi Shawl, the editor, has done an amazing job with assembling them. There were quite a few authors I'd been interested in reading but hadn't got to, and more that I'm now interested in seeking out. That means the collection did a great job of bringing authors to the readers' attention.
Profile Image for Alan.
1,101 reviews109 followers
October 8, 2021
Themed anthologies are nothing new, of course, but New Suns: Original Speculative Fiction by People of Color brings a little more to the table than most of 'em—a wider perspective than some collection about magical cats or alternative Nixons (both of which exist, by the way).

In other words, Nisi Shawl's anthology does precisely what it says on the tin, as they say... these are all original sf stories, and are all by people of color (of colors other than the usual pink, that is). I did not find a bad one in the bunch.

These are short takes, I'll admit, but hopefully they'll convey a little bit of the flavor for each entry:

Foreword • essay by LeVar Burton
Even if you usually skip introductions, I'd recommend reading this one. Burton is a huge SF fan—playing Geordi, it seems, wasn't just a job for him—and he really knows the field.

"The Galactic Tourist Industrial Complex" • short story by Tobias S. Buckell
A bright, cheery story about aliens, gentrification, alien gentrification, and a savvy New York City cabbie who reminded me at least a little of Heavy Metal's Harry Canyon.

"Deer Dancer" • short story by Kathleen Alcalá
Alcalá's optimistic post-climate-collapse fable is about rebuilding a little closer to the Earth—where Taters grow.

"The Virtue of Unfaithful Translations" • novelette by Minsoo Kang
This one reads like history... or history as it ought to be, anyway.

It was at about this point that I realized I was increasingly eager to read the next story, and the next... Nisi Shawl's careful curation had me hooked.

"Come Home to Atropos" • short story by Steven Barnes
Every situation can be seen as a business opportunity, if you look at it the right way...

"The Fine Print" • short story by Chinelo Onwualu
Making a deal with a djinn—even with a signed contract on file—isn't exactly like making a deal with the Devil. But it's pretty close...

"unkind of mercy" • short story by Alex Jennings
Funny story... but not, and not no ghost story, neither, with a narrator who reminded me of Abbey Mei Otis' characters.

"Burn the Ships" • novelette by Alberto Yáñez
"Dawncomers"—invaders from the East. That's the perfect word to introduce this powerful and bloody reimagining of Aztec history from the perspective of the devout. Turns out Yáñez is a Portlandite, too.

"The Freedom of the Shifting Sea" • short story by Jaymee Goh
Although we are land animals, humans are still attracted to the sea—and to what lives within it.

"Three Variations on a Theme of Imperial Attire" • short story by E. Lily Yu
That didn't go very well, did it? Heavy-handed, on the nose... it's hardly even a story.
Oh yes, it is...

"Blood and Bells" • novelette by Karin Lowachee
Street. Smart. Not the streets we know, maybe, but the neighborhood's still familiar.

"Give Me Your Black Wings Oh Sister" • short story by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
The city comforts her like a mother who coddles a child. It says, "You are an ordinary body among ordinary bodies, you are in fact no-body."
She likes that{...}

"The Shadow We Cast Through Time" • short story by Indrapramit Das
They were clever, and knew that these towers had to be houses, which, for humans at least, were starships that did not move through space, and simply sat on a world to transport humans through time instead.
A brilliant evocation of alien biology, redolent of LeGuin.

"The Robots of Eden" • short story by Anil Menon
Trying to fix what isn't broken... maybe it's best to just relax and let go.

"Dumb House" • novelette by Andrea Hairston
I don't even have a smart phone, so I'm definitely in the target demographic for Hairston's dumb house. One of the longer entries in New Suns, in which future magic really starts looking like technology.

"One Easy Trick" • short story by Hiromi Goto
Ask me how! Or maybe don't... Marnie's unplanned weight-loss programme probably wouldn't work for anyone else.

"Harvest" • short story by Rebecca Roanhorse
Never fall in love with a deer woman. Deer women are wild and without reason.
There's not much point in harvesting something you never plan to use... and, after all, "The devil will find work for idle hands to do."

"Kelsey and the Burdened Breath" • short story by Darcie Little Badger
Matter-of-fact and high impact, this story about an overworked "shimmer finder and guide" (so says her business card) having to manage life's inconvenient aftereffects is a fitting end to the fiction in New Suns: Original Speculative Fiction by People of Color.

Afterword • essay by Nisi Shawl
A brief but informative summation. I learned a lot I didn't know about Clarion West.

I've been a fan of Shawl's fiction since 2008, when I read Filter House, an opinion that was only reinforced by her steampunk alternative history Everfair, which I read in 2018, a full decade later. We only have a few of Shawl's own fictions, but New Suns: Original Speculative Fiction by People of Color demonstrates her editorial talents shine very brightly as well.
Profile Image for Kirsty.
Author 71 books1,290 followers
May 14, 2019
I'm a massive spec fic fan (both reading and writing it), but I find some of the popular stuff gets samey: either in a cod-medieval, Game of Thrones, doorstop series way; or in a only-this-straight-white-spaceman-can-save-the-world way. So I'm glad this book exists.

I didn't love all the stories – not because they're bad, they're just not my personal taste. Quite a few of them left me unsatisfied, asking more questions than were answered. Not necessarily a problem if you want a thought-provoking read, but don't expect neat narratives.

My favourite, not surprisingly, was Jaymee Goh's 'The Freedom of the Shifting Sea', about a murderous lesbian worm-woman. She's not technically a mermaid (as she's a worm-human mix rather than a fish-human mix), but she gave me the queer killer mermaid that I didn't even know I wanted. The final three stories were also great: Hiromi Goto on a woman pursued through the woods by her own belly fat, Rebecca Roanhorse on murderous deer women (what's my sudden desire for killer queers? I'm worrying myself), and Darcie Little Badger on a new sort of ghost.

I'm giving this three stars because many of the stories weren't my cup of tea – but the ones that worked for me, I really liked.
2,335 reviews
May 13, 2022
The stories I liked the best were "One Easy Trick" by Hiromi Goto (a woman's belly fat falls off her body and becomes a 'lumpen' creature), "Come Home to Atropos" by Steven Barnes (an advertisement for wealthy white people to come to the island for their end of life ceremony), and "Kelsey and the Burdened Breath" by Darcie Little Badger (a woman and her dead dog seek out 'Shimmers'/last breaths of people and animals). I appreciated the sheer bizarreness of "The Freedom of the Shifting Sea" by Jaymee Goh with a woman who is half polychaete/marine worm.
Profile Image for Alexandra.
775 reviews91 followers
July 29, 2019
Octavia Butler once said, "There's nothing new under the sun, but there are new suns." And thus, New Suns: Original Speculative Fiction by People of Colour, edited by Nisi Shawl. It's a remarkable set of stories: varieties in genre and tone and settings and characters. Some of the authors are people whose work I've come across a bit (E. Lily Yu, Andrea Hairston) while many others I was only vaguely familiar with - and several whom I'd not heard of before. Which is generally a good sign, in an anthology, for me anyway. 

I'm not going to go over every story, because that would be boring. I want to mention a few highlights to give a sense of the range of stories.

Minsoo Kang's "The Virtue of Unfaithful Translations" hit my history-teacher heart right in the middle. I love way it's told - as an historian or archivist finding out more and more information - and I love the story that's told through that information, and I ADORE the 'Marginal note' at the end for the way it cuts through and kinda sums up a lot of what historians of marginal communities have been doing for several decades. 

"Burn the Ships" by Alberto Yáñez also hit me in the heart, but for different reasons. When I read in his bio that he "draws on his Mexican and Jewish roots" to inform the story, I could absolutely see the parallels; it's not a re-telling of a story from either of those cultures, or a combining, but... using their histories, of conflict with The Other especially, to come up with perhaps the most emotional of all the stories in the anthology. It's just incredible.

Indrapramit Das' "The Shadow We Cast Through Time" is a non-linear narrative that looks at the consequences of human settlement on alien planets, how societies shape themselves in response to danger - and vice versa - and the connections between people. It's gorgeous. 

"Harvest," by Rebecca Roanhorse, is horrifying. I've now read a couple of stories that involve deer women, and I already know enough to never tangle with one willingly. 

If you're looking for a non-themed anthology and you want to know who's hot right now in speculative fiction, you should pick this up. 
Profile Image for Anna Tan.
Author 27 books162 followers
January 18, 2019
I'm thinking really hard about what I want to say in this review because I do want to be supportive about spec fic by POC but I also want to be real. And honestly, either my expectations were too high (most likely) or I don't know what I want (I never know what I want), because I finished the book with a slight sense of discontent.

I guess as anthologies go, this is a proper mixed bag. There were 5 that I really liked and 4 that I liked but had some reservations about? So that’s already 9/17, which is more than half. There were only three that I found very confusing or weird, which I guess just goes to say that it was a nice, interesting read, but nothing especially spectacular, no matter how much I was hoping to be blown away. I guess I really did expect too much. (You can see that inconsistency here, don’t you?)

STUFF I REALLY LIKED, in no particular order.
The Fine Print - Chinelo Onwualu
Djinn! Always here for the djinn. This has a kind of Aladdin feel, but also a very lawyer-y thing going on. I’m looking for a term to describe it but can’t think. Like the smart, fast-talking guy trying to get out of a contract. Oh. I know what I was thinking of. I was thinking of that scene in the American Gods TV series with the djinn. (I can’t recall the book well enough now to remember if that was in it too? I know the TV series did add some scenes.)

Burn the Ships - Alberto Yanez
THIS IS THE CONTENT I'M LOOKING FOR. Lush, rich worldbuilding, magic oozing out of every pore. There’s this intricate weaving of faith versus lore, a juxtaposition of male priesthood and women's magic; both doing what they believe to be right, letting the other go in love. Beauty and death. Anger and life.

Dumb House - Andrea Hairston
I don’t really know how to explain why I like this one. Most of it is just the Cinnamon trying to chase off these two annoying salesmen who are trying to make her upgrade her dumb house into a smart one. Nothing really happens at the end. But it was amusing. I suppose I liked the humour.

Blood and Bells - Karin Lowachee
Though the first prologue (?) threw me, the story unfolded in beautiful ways. An utterly charming story (it has an adorable kid) that ended in an unexpected way.

Kelsey and the Burdened Breath - Darcie Little Badger
I love the concept in this. It’s kind of bittersweet plus nostalgic with a side of ghostbuster detecting. I don’t think I’m explaining myself very well.

The Virtue of Unfaithful Translations - Minsoo Kang
I liked this, like a little Chinese historical story, but it was a little too wordy and repetitive at places. I think there was this bit which felt like they backtracked and retold part of the story and then there was this addendum about omitting the female point of view which just felt a bit awkward. Stylistically on point, but could have done with a little editing down.

The Freedom of the Shifting Sea - Jaymee Goh
Storywise, I liked it, but it was a little gross, honestly. It would honestly be in my “really liked” section if it didn’t have the weird (mandible?) sex.

Three Variations on a Theme of Imperial Attire - E. Lily Yu
A straightforward retelling of The Emperor's New Clothes. I see no lie here. Last variation sounded just a little bit too forced, but tone is a very easily misinterpreted thing, so it could just be my own biases.

The Shadow We Cast Through Time - Indrapramit Das
As much as I liked this, it was a little hard to follow. There’s a nice mythic storytelling feel to it, but it also came across like too much story in too few words. I had this overall feeling that I was missing something that maybe wasn’t being explained well enough? Or maybe like a myth that was just a bit too obscure and I’m too far distant to understand it.

I wasn’t going to mention the others I didn’t like, but I guess I’ll give One Easy Trick - Hiromi Goto a quick mention. I did like this in the beginning, but it got weirder and weirder until I was like.. uh, wth? So really, I’m quite ambivalent. I don’t know what to think.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
Profile Image for Wealhtheow.
2,431 reviews543 followers
April 17, 2023
A collection of recent short sff stories by writers of color. There isn't an organizing principle beyond that, so one never knows what style or theme one will get from a story.

I liked:
"The Galactic Tourist Industrial Complex" by Tobias Buckell. Set in the future, when Earth is a tourist attraction for much-more-advanced alien civilizations. Told from the point of view of a human trying to survive by catering to galactic customers. The world is detailed, the pov character believable, and the use of sf as a tool to look at colonialism feels right rather than clunky.

"The Virtue of Unfaithful Translations" by Minsoo Kang. Centuries after the fact, historians begin to uncover clues that a famous peace treaty between an emperor and a piratical sea king was actually manipulated into place by their translators. I always like historical revision, and the worldbuilding here is rich. Parts of this, especially near the end, felt a little too obvious.

"Give Me Your Black Wings Oh Sister" by Silvia Moreno-Garcia. Told from the point of view of a vampire. Creepy and just the right length.

"Harvest" by Rebecca Roanhorse. A chef is lured into serial killing by a deer woman who wants to recreate America before it was colonized. This just felt very well written to me.

Apathetic toward:
"Come Home to Atropos," by Steven Barnes. Commercials for a Caribbean "paradise" where tourists can be euthanized. I like the late-capitalism cynicism of the first few pages, but as it gets longer it gets heavier handed and less and less believable as a commercial. Personally I'd have liked this shorter and snappier, or at least with more of the funny&terrible interjections from the marketing team.

"unkind of mercy" by Alex Jennings. An unnamed main character chatters incessantly on about her awful boyfriend before finally revealing that strange empty entities killed him horrifically in front of her. The bits where the narrator talks about the empty entities are super creepy; well done there. But the main character's voice is really uneven, and at the end of the story I felt like there maybe was a connection between humans being apathetic and the entities that I didn't get. If not that, I don't even know what the point of this was.

"The Freedom of the Shifting Sea" by Jaymee Goh. A girl and a mermaid fall in love. Years later her daughter returns to Malaysia and this time, perhaps she will not leave...The way the mermaids work is really cool. I just didn't connect with the characters and was annoyed that Salmah seems to age out of her chance to become a mermaid.

"Kelsey and the Burdened Breath" by Darcie Little Badger. Kelsey and the ghost of her dog Pal herd the final breaths of the dead into the afterlife. She's tasked with tracking down a serial killing breath. I liked the way last breaths had their own specific gravity, and the explanation/reveal of the killer breath. But for whatever reason I didn't feel any particular way about this story.

Did not like:
"Three Variations on a Theme of Imperial Attire" by E. Lily Yu, a remake of the Emperor's New Clothes. No part of this worked for me.

"Blood and Bells" by Karin Lowachee. I was too confused and overwhelmed in the first few pages to continue.

"Dumb House" by Andrea Hairston. Cinnamon is an older woman trying to avoid corporate products. 19 pages in it was still getting more confusing and I gave up.

"One Easy Trick" by Hiromi Goto. A woman's belly fat leaves her on a hike to find someone that will appreciate and love it. Too late, the woman realizes she misses it. This is not my kind of sff.

I really liked:
"Deer Dancer" by Kathleen Alcala. Set after cataclysmic climate change and the collapse of human civilizations recognizable to us, Tater and her community work closely together to create a space of health and safety. The main character is a plumber and sometimes a prophet, which is a combination I've definitely never seen before. I really like the details here, which don't feel infodumped but do paint the world for the viewer.

"The Fine Print" by Chinelo Onwualu. Nuhu is part of a village where every year a djinn answers one wish per man. Nuhu has recognized the emptiness of his wish for a perfect wife, and tries to convince the Djinn to let him give up his wishes. Again, great worldbuilding; I love the combo of modern Nigeria with folk tales from around the world.

"Burn the Ships" by Alberto Yañez. An alternate history fantasy, where the Aztecs really can do magic through their gods but choose not to...until a group of women have suffered so much that they commit to a profane but powerful ritual. The Tzitzimimeh are terrifying, and I really liked the conversation in here about what the gods want or what they can demand.

"The Shadow We Cast Through Time" by Indrapramit Das. An old woman approaching her death talks about the myths, customs, and actions of her people. They are human colonists on a remote alien planet inhabited by an infectious colony lifeform that manifests as spires and buildings. I am truly fascinated by the worldbuilding here. The alien life and how the humans talk about it are just on the edge of too weird/obfuscatory/purple, which really kept my attention.

"The Robots of Eden" by Anil Menon. At first I didn't like this; the main character didn't make sense to me. As I read further I realized why: he's one of the Enhanced, the elite who everyone views as superior because their implants help them maintain serenity and happiness no matter their difficulties. Actually the main character felt totally fleshed out. As the story went on I realized I was putting together things he didn't remember or understand thanks to his implant, which was a great way to deliver this tale.
Profile Image for Jocelyn.
244 reviews1 follower
March 21, 2019
Even though I’m not the biggest reader of short story collections, I was really looking forward to this one. Speculative and science fiction are two of my most beloved genres and as a Latinx reader I was thrilled to see that this collection is exclusively written by people of color. And Levar Burton wrote the introduction- sign me up! As science fiction, fantasy, and the like become increasingly popular, these are the voices that we need to be hearing from now more than ever.

Like any other short story anthology, there are stories that are better than other ones, and stories that will appeal to some but won’t appeal to others. This collection was really no different. Some stories I loved, some I was okay with, others left me completely baffled. Yet as a whole, I did really enjoy reading all of these and do hope that this type of book is not a fluke. I’d love to see more, especially since so many of these stories featured LGBTQ+ characters; again, these are voices we need to be hearing from in not just this genre, but all genres.

There were over a dozen stories and breaking down each one would have us here all day, so I’ll just mention a few that I really enjoyed.

Deer Dancer by Kathleen Alcalá

Set in what appears to be a post-apocalyptic world filled with communal tribes depending on each other for survival, this one was utterly filled with mysticism that seems to have evolved of its own accord as a result of the world the characters lived in. It was interesting to see that in relative modern times, we as humans really aren’t that far removed from mythological elements being such profound aspects of our lives. This was one of the few I would love to see expanded into its own novella or book.

The Virtue of Unfaithful Translations by Minsoo Kang

The problem with short stories is that you need to be able to set a scene with characters people want to read about in relatively few pages. Often times, this is where short stories (sorry for the pun) fall short. The Virtue of Unfaithful Translations was not one of those stories. It was a sweeping, epic tale that was beautifully and thoroughly laid out and was easily my favourite one in the collection. It was profound and thought provoking, almost making you rethink the way history has always been written and remembered.

Burn the Ships by Alberto Yáñez

Mysticism was again key in this tale, and was another one I would love to see expounded as I was a little confused about who the invaders were and where they came from. It was more or less and allegory for the European expansion into Latin America, and being someone who had family on both sides of those events this story really spoke to me. It was truly moving and beautiful.

Blood and Bells by Karin Lowachee

Another one that set everything up perfectly with characters I grew attached to in only a few pages. My heart broke and rebroke several times throughout Blood and Bells, yet left me with a overwhelming sense of hope in the end. I’m keen to read more by this author.

All in all, the collection balances itself out into a stunning collection of thought provoking, emotional, and wondrous tales. There were also a couple that were purely delightful, like One Easy Trick by Hiromi Goto about the runaway "Bellyfat." Whilst I usually put short story collections aside to read singular titles, New Suns has made me a convert. I’m going to be on the lookout now for similar anthologies and might just start reading other ones I’ve never had the mind to take notice of. I'm so grateful to the editor of this collection for bringing such amazing authors into my world.

Thanks as well to the publisher and Netgalley for a copy of this in exchange for my review.
Profile Image for Claudia ✨.
501 reviews356 followers
July 6, 2020
I've really started getting into reading anthologies, and to be honest, I'm quite picky with them - I basically one read ones that are queer or PoC, as those are the themes I'm most interested in. Therefor, reading New Suns: Original Speculative Fiction by People of Color was an absolute must.

Nisi Shawl has done an amazing job collection stories, but as always with these collection, the quality does vary. I did find overall that even though the cover, at least to me, gives the impression that this is catered to a younger audience, the stories were of a more mature nature. Not only in a sexual way, although that is the case too, but just the overall tone; they felt complex and weird in a very not YA way.

As for my favorites, I absolutely adored Burn the Ships by Alberto Yáñez. This story told of an Aztec woman who takes matters into her own hands and in doing so dooms herself when the Spanish enslaves and murders her people. The writing was raw and gorgeous, and fit the bloody and ghastly atmosphere perfectly. It was beautiful, but also a horrible reminder of the atrocities that Europeans have committed.

The Freedom of the Shifting Sea by Jaymee Goh had a kind of mermaid-like creature in it, and therefor I was immediately drawn in. This did make me a bit uncomfortable at times though, mostly because of the themes it explored and how gorey and weirdly sexual it often was. Still, I did enjoy this, and it's one of the more memorable ones from the collection.

I wasn't too impressed with Blood and Bells by Karin Lowachee until the ending. It had much potential, but I wanted more explanation about the world that I so enjoyed the feel of. The thing that really hooked me was the father-son relationship, which I feel is so rare that we get to read about from the fathers perspective, and it was very sweet. The ending just hit the nail on the hammer for me.

I've read The Devourers by Indra Das before, and that is one of my favorite books ever. I can't stress how uncomfortable their writing make me, while still making me unable to look away with how gorgeous and unique it is. The Shadow We Cast Through Time was just more of that, and I want it as a full novel; the new, strange world, demons, hair-towers and all.

Harvest by Rebecca Roanhorse explored just how far we are willing to go for the people we love, while introducing us to a deer woman and Tansi, who loves her. It also taught me about some horrid historical events that took place in the States - of massacres where Native Americans were left dead and without any homes, all which I'd never heard of before. It hurt my heart not only how much pain Native Americans really have gone through, but also how much that has been forgotten or dismissed. Roanhorses story was a reminder of just how painful that generational trauma really is.

Those were my absolute favorites, stories that I will remember for a long time. The rest unfortunately did not leave as much of a mark, and were only okay. Still, I really recommend picking New Suns up, as it is a rare gem in anthologies with both the own voices aspect and how different and new all these stories are.
Profile Image for Soph Barker.
Author 57 books44 followers
August 17, 2020
Great anthology, really heterogeneous in the best sense: there is a story for everyone.

The best SFF is, in my opinion, the one that extrapolates from a real world issue. There is a lot of that here, from exploitative tourism to the erasure of women in History, along some stories purely for fun.

I loved Darcie Little Badger's story: "Kelsey and the Burdened Breath". Great idea and worldbuilding, wonderful writing. "Come Home to Atropos", by Steven Barnes, was BRUTAL, absolutely amazing. But my favourite was "The Virtue of Unfaithful Translations", by Minsoo Kang. As a translator, it was real fun reading two colleagues doing the outrageous for the greater good.

Not all stories connected with me, but all in all, it was a great read.

(I recieved a copy through Netgalley!)
Profile Image for Melanie Schneider.
Author 20 books79 followers
August 13, 2019
In den kommenden Tagen (vielleicht auch Wochen) möchte ich noch einmal durch die Geschichten gehen und ein Resümee darüber ziehen, von welchen Autor*innen ich mehr lesen möchte, weil sie mich mit ihren Stilen und Ideen überzeugen konnten.

Es gab nur wenige Geschichten, die mich nicht auf irgendeine Art und Weise begeistert haben, weshalb es solide vier Sterne gibt.
Profile Image for Devann.
2,434 reviews134 followers
March 1, 2019
I received an ARC copy of this book from NetGalley

actual rating: 2.5

I hate to give this such a low rating, but I apparently was just not in the mood to focus on an anthology because I found this to be kind of difficult to get through. There were a few stories in here that I definitely enjoyed, but there were also several that I didn't even finish. Of course in any anthology there is going to be a difference in quality between stories, but I found my attention wandering more than usual here. It might have been more that I was in the wrong mood than anything else so don't let my review deter you from trying it if you generally really like anthologies.
Profile Image for Michaela (Journey into Books).
267 reviews73 followers
August 22, 2019
*I would like to thank Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with an eARC in exchange for an honest review*

This is an amazing anthology of stories by POC. I'm also was weary of short story collections but I loved this ones. It spans a variety of genres from horror to fantasy to sci-fi, each story was well written and there wasn't one that I didn't like. Some of my favourites were The Virtue of Unfaithful Translations, The Freedom of the Shifting Sea and Harvest.

I gave this 4 out of 5 stars.
Profile Image for Avery Delany.
189 reviews35 followers
March 13, 2019
"For centuries we have been this brilliant. Now, though, our numbers have grown. And we shine together. Would you like more of what you've read here? Wider constellations, greater galaxies of original speculative fiction by People of Color? Then seek us out. Spread the word. Wish on us, reach for us, and yes, let us gather together in the deep, dark nurseries of stars. Let us congregate. This is how new suns are born."
Profile Image for Xan Rooyen.
Author 34 books109 followers
October 21, 2020
Like in every anthology, there were hits and misses for me in this collection, but overall I highly recommend this collection to anyone looking to diversify their SFF reading list and possibly discover new authors.

The stories by Rebecca Roanhorse and Darcie Little Badger (right at the end of the antho!) were absolute stand-outs for me. I loved them! I also really enjoyed the story by Alberto Yáñez and hope to read more of his work in the future!
Profile Image for Neveah.
286 reviews3 followers
September 6, 2020
Whilst I’m giving all of these five stars before the results are out, let’s just say that I don’t usually like short stories as a medium and this book is head and shoulders above all but one of the other entries...
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