New Suns, Edited by Nisi Shawl – Book Review

Hello Humans! Today’s review is for another anthology from Rebellion Publishing here in Oxford. I recently reviewed The Outcast Hours which was good but wasn’t quite my cup of tea, so I was unsure as to how I would find New Suns, but I was confident that there would be at least a few stories that I would enjoy. I’m delighted to start this review by saying that I thoroughly enjoyed this anthology from start to finish, there were only a couple of stories that I didn’t enjoy (rare for an anthology) and I’ve certainly discovered some new authors on whom I’ll have to keep an eye.

New Suns

Goodreads Summary:

Anthology of contemporary stories by emerging and seasoned writers of many races

“There’s nothing new under the sun, but there are new suns,” proclaimed Octavia E. Butler.

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 AlcalaMinsoo KangAnil MenonSilvia Moreno-GarciaAlex JenningsAlberto YanezSteven BarnesJaymee GohKarin LowacheeE. Lily YuAndrea HairstonTobias BuckellHiromi GotoRebecca RoanhorseIndrapramit DasChinelo Onwualu and Darcie Little Badger.

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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.

What say you? Will you be adding New Suns to your TBR when it comes out on March 18th? Let me know in the comments below!

J

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