The 2016 Hugo Award-winning novelist, N.K. Jemisin, returns with another of her NYT‘s columns focused on Science Fiction and Fantasy.
As we have written, she is a demanding and discriminating consumer of fiction. As a critic she is vibrantly engaged and is not willing to let much slide. As a reader she is interested in meaningful content rather than plot, values beautiful language, and appreciates in-depth characterizations. Since last December she has been sharing her views on Science Fiction and Fantasy in the NYT book review column “Otherwordly,” a bi-monthly roundup.
This month she takes on four works, a space opera, a graphic novel, the return of a beloved voice in Fantasy, and creepy speculative fiction.
The work she clearly likes best is the long awaited return of Peter S. Beagle, a favorite of Fantasy readers for books such as The Last Unicorn. His newest novel in 17 years is Summerlong (Tachyon Publications), a contemporary take on the Persephone myth.
Jemisin writes that the characters are “fully textured,” the story is about “how ordinary people change, and are changed by, the numinous,” and the setting is beautifully realized:
“It’s a rare story of summer that feels like the summer — like dreamy intense passions rising and arcing and then spinning away; like beauty underlaid with a tinge of sadness because it is ephemeral. Beagle has captured that seasonal warmth here, beautifully, magically.”
She also writes favorably about Pretty Deadly Volume 2: The Bear by Kelly Sue De Connick with art by Emma Ríos (Image Comics; OverDrive Sample), saying at its core it is “a masterpiece of mythopoeism that many literary fantasists struggle to emulate.”
She describes the story as a “weird western saga [that] gleefully, dreamily fuses a Greek chorus, spaghetti westerns, American trickster tales and creepy Japanese shoujo (girls’) manga.”
She is not a complete fan of the coloring in the comic, but says “This is a minor flaw. Every other element of this tale is a perfectly balanced mixture of the macabre with pure human poignancy. New readers will need Volume 1 too, but the return on investment is more than worthwhile.”
The full column is online. it ran in last week’s Sunday Book Review.