LeVar Burton is a national treasure. As the originator of Reading Rainbow, Geordi LaForge on Star Trek TNG and the creator of one of my favorite podcasts, LeVar Burton Reads, I have spent a not insignificant amount of time with him, and for that I’m grateful to him. And now, I have to take it a step further because he introduced me to the amazing creativity of N.K. Jemisin. He first read “Playing Nice with God’s Bowling Ball” for a live event and interviewed Jemisin after. The premise? Black hole in a coffee can. I mean, whoa. That story wasn’t even part of her short story collection because according to her, “it wasn’t her best” which is amazing cuz it was very very good.
The next story he read by her Cuisine des Mémoires WAS part of the collection, which then had me jump to get this one from the library. That story is about a restaurant that can recreate any meal, something from history, or even from your own history. But how? And is the how important?
Some of the stories in this collection are no more than 6 pages long. And in those 6 pages, she packs in so much detail, character and world building that it is a little scary. It’s kind of like watching a cooking show (go with me on this one) where everyone has the same amount of time but somehow one person’s creation is like two tiers taller, or much more put together than anyone else’s. She fits 22 compelling stories into 379 pages. She has a command of the English language and gift of storytelling that is awe-inspiring. One of the stories has paragraphs labeled as chapters, but out of order. One is a nugget of inspiration for the Broken Earth trilogy. Space aliens: check. Post-apocalyptical story about Death filled with ennui in the absence of humanity. She is skilled at both flipping an old trope and coming up with something completely new and different. Talking mini-dragons in a post-Katrina flooded New Orleans. So yeah. What are you waiting for? Go get this book.