I’m reading N.K. Jemisin’s The City We Became, and I am thoroughly enjoying it. Currently about half way through. It’s set in New York City, and the city is coming alive as a sentient entity. It builds on how cities can feel like there’s something to them that’s bigger than its parts, that constitutes some sort of character, personhood. Berlin does that for me, which attracts and repulses me at the same time. Copenhagen does too, like a comfortable coat during a beautifully glowing, but unexpectedly chilly sunset. London, yes, inspiring and gritty. And NYC, indeed. The image below is from my first visit to NYC, in ’93. With two friends we drove our car from up near Albany to Yonkers and then down the entire Manhattan peninsula taking in our surroundings, right down to Times Square, and exploring from there on foot. It was a grimy city then I felt. Another visit, just weeks after 9/11 it was a griefing city, putting everything into sharper focus, oddly clear sounds in the city’s overall din, more saturated colors, right along side the stench wafting over it all from its deep smouldering wound at ground zero.

Looking at the images, listening to Jay-Z and Alicia Keys’ Empire State of Mind.

NYC in 1993, from Empire State Building, looking down E34th and E33th towards Lexington Av

Came across this interview with N.K. Jemisin about her new book ‘The City We Became’, set in NYC. I had very much enjoyed her Broken Earth trilogy, so I’m curious to read her new book.

Mind controlling other-wordly entities are the rudest of tourists

You don’t say.

While I was at it, I found some other work by Jemisin I wasn’t aware of yet as well, and bought that too to read (Killing Moon and Shadowed Sun, Emergency Skin, and How Long ’til Black Future Month?)

portrait of N.K. Jemisin, by Laura Hanifin, license CC BY

A new novel by Claire North, stretching from a British doctor cursed in South Africa while watching a lynching in the late 1800’s, to the trenches of the Great War. Liked it, though slightly less than other works by Claire North I read.

Choice quote: ““It is my experience that the truth has very little effect on policy. People will believe what they want to believe. They hear what they want to hear.”

Deep Learning by Ren Warom is the second of four novellas in which different authors explore what robots might dream of. Do androids dream of electric sheep? In this novella, Niner only works because of a glitch. Through its various ‘life’ stages it fights internal insanity caused by the information overload from permanent entanglement with the minds of all who commanded him at some point, while being limited in its communication to commands and responses. It seems to work well, mostly because the internal vortex is invisible to humans. Set in a post-climate-urgency world where everyone fights over the last bits of livable land in the USA.

Stay away from the lonely dark, is the last advice Ingmar gets before lift-off. AIs used to run space ships, until one of them lost its mind killing crew and passengers. So AIs are taken out of service and replaced with human minds that can deal well with being alone. Not enough to cope with The Lonely Dark though. Nice novella.