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From Octavia Butler to Neil Gaiman to Genevieve Valentine, speculative fiction writers have captured readers’ imaginations and created a major literary movement. One of the major figures in modern speculative fiction is short story- and novel-writer NK Jemisin.



A Brief Introduction to NK Jemisin

NK Jemisin is an award-winning speculative fiction author best known for the Inheritance Trilogy, a powerhouse series considered a key part of the modern science fiction canon. Born Nora Keita Jemisin in Iowa in 1972 and raised between New York City and Mobile, Alabama, she participated in the 2002 Viable Paradise writing workshop. By the mid-2000s, she landed an agent thanks to an early manuscript for her novel The Killing Moon. In 2010, Orbit Books published NK’s The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, the first installment of the Inheritance Trilogy and her first major success.

In the years since, NK’s expansive body of work has included short stories, novels, novellas, and comic books. In 2016, she won her first Hugo Award, considered speculative fiction’s highest honor, for The Fifth Season—she was the first Black author to receive the award. She would become the first author to win three consecutive Hugo Awards, one for each of her novels in the Broken Earth Trilogy. NK has also contributed a column, “Otherworldly,” for The New York Times Book Review from 2016 to 2018, co-authored a series based on the Mass Effect video games, co-wrote a nonfiction book called Geek Wisdom: The Sacred Teachings of Nerd Culture, and published part one of a comic series through DC Comics called Far Sector.

7 Notable Short Stories by NK Jemisin

NK Jemisin has published numerous short-fiction stories, including:

  1. “Cloud Dragon Skies” (2005): One of NK’s first publications, “Cloud Dragon Skies,” was published in the speculative fiction mag Strange Horizons and was listed on the Recommended Reading Shortlist for the Carl Brandon Society’s 2006 Parallax Award.
  2. “Non-Zero Probabilities” (2009): Published in Clarkesworld Magazine, “Non-Zero Probabilities” was nominated for both a Hugo Award and a Nebula Award. The story follows a woman living in an alternate version of New York, where the laws of probability have shifted, and unlikely events are more likely to occur.
  3. “Sunshine Ninety-Nine” (2015): Published in Popular Science, “Sunshine Ninety-Nine” is a flash fiction piece written as a dystopian ad for home sales.
  4. “The Evaluators” (2016): Published in Wired Magazine, the sci-fi story “The Evaluators” is formatted as a series of transcripts that detail the disappearance of a flight crew.
  5. “The City Born Great” (2016): Published in 2016, “The City Born Great” is a precursor to NK’s 2020 novel, The City We Became, about sentient cities.
  6. “The Storyteller’s Replacement” (2018): In 2018, NK published her short story collection, How Long til Black Future Month?, which included “The Storyteller’s Replacement,” which follows a king on the hunt to secure and eat a dragon’s heart.
  7. “Emergency Skin” (2019): Published as an Amazon Original Story, “Emergency Skin” won the Hugo Award for Best Novelette. The story follows an explorer on a mission to Earth to gather intel after climate change has ravished the planet and devastated its inhabitants.

4 Notable Novels by NK Jemisin

Author NK Jemisin is a prolific novel-writer—her book series include:

  1. Inheritance Trilogy (2010–2011): NK’s Inheritance Trilogy is composed of three novels, The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms (2010), The Broken Kingdoms (2010), and The Kingdom of Gods (2011); one novella, The Awakened Kingdom (2014); and the triptych Shades in Shadow (2015). The story follows a young outcast who inherits a powerful kingdom and becomes embroiled in a fierce power struggle. The first book, The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, won the Locus Award for Best First Novel and received nominations for the World Fantasy Award, the IAFA William L. Crawford Award, and the James Tiptree Jr. award.