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Emergency Skin

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What will become of our self-destructed planet? The answer shatters all expectations in this subversive speculation from the Hugo Award–winning author of the Broken Earth trilogy. An explorer returns to gather information from a climate-ravaged Earth that his ancestors, and others among the planet’s finest, fled centuries ago. The mission comes with a warning: a What will become of our self-destructed planet? The answer shatters all expectations in this subversive speculation from the Hugo Award–winning author of the Broken Earth trilogy. An explorer returns to gather information from a climate-ravaged Earth that his ancestors, and others among the planet’s finest, fled centuries ago. The mission comes with a warning: a graveyard world awaits him. But so do those left behind—hopeless and unbeautiful wastes of humanity who should have died out eons ago. After all this time, there’s no telling how they’ve devolved. Steel yourself, soldier. Get in. Get out. And try not to stare. N. K. Jemisin’s Emergency Skin is part of Forward, a collection of six stories of the near and far future from out-of-this-world authors. Each piece can be read or listened to in a single thought-provoking sitting.


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What will become of our self-destructed planet? The answer shatters all expectations in this subversive speculation from the Hugo Award–winning author of the Broken Earth trilogy. An explorer returns to gather information from a climate-ravaged Earth that his ancestors, and others among the planet’s finest, fled centuries ago. The mission comes with a warning: a What will become of our self-destructed planet? The answer shatters all expectations in this subversive speculation from the Hugo Award–winning author of the Broken Earth trilogy. An explorer returns to gather information from a climate-ravaged Earth that his ancestors, and others among the planet’s finest, fled centuries ago. The mission comes with a warning: a graveyard world awaits him. But so do those left behind—hopeless and unbeautiful wastes of humanity who should have died out eons ago. After all this time, there’s no telling how they’ve devolved. Steel yourself, soldier. Get in. Get out. And try not to stare. N. K. Jemisin’s Emergency Skin is part of Forward, a collection of six stories of the near and far future from out-of-this-world authors. Each piece can be read or listened to in a single thought-provoking sitting.

30 review for Emergency Skin

  1. 5 out of 5

    Emily May

    I went back and forth on this rating because I seriously loved the story, but there was this cynical little voice in my head questioning whether it was too oversimplified. In the end, though, I rate based on personal enjoyment and I enjoyed Emergency Skin so much. It was my personal favourite from the Forward collection. When I started to see where this story was going, I think I actually let out a little delighted laugh! Many years into the future, a small group of humans have fled a dying Earth and b I went back and forth on this rating because I seriously loved the story, but there was this cynical little voice in my head questioning whether it was too oversimplified. In the end, though, I rate based on personal enjoyment and I enjoyed Emergency Skin so much. It was my personal favourite from the Forward collection. When I started to see where this story was going, I think I actually let out a little delighted laugh! Many years into the future, a small group of humans have fled a dying Earth and built a new (and very different) society on another planet. However, something from old Earth is of utmost importance to them, so one soldier is sent on a mission to find it. He will have to brave the Earth's destroyed atmosphere and - worse - deal with the devolved humans that were left behind. It's told in second person, which worked really well for me. I don't want to say too much about the story or its themes - (view spoiler)[racism, sexism, classism, ableism, body-shaming, etc. (hide spoiler)] - because it is told very well and you deserve to find it out on your own. I think it was a very clever approach to a simple idea. Yes, again, maybe too simple. But I thoroughly enjoyed it. Randomize by Andy Weir - ⭑☆☆☆☆ Ark by Veronica Roth - ⭑⭑⭑☆☆ You Have Arrived at Your Destination by Amor Towles - ⭑⭑⭑⭑☆ The Last Conversation by Paul Tremblay - ⭑⭑⭑⭑☆ Summer Frost by Blake Crouch - ⭑⭑⭑⭑☆

  2. 4 out of 5

    Nilufer Ozmekik

    Yes creepy as hell, do you smell the smoke? Yes, it’s coming from my brain cells and they’re BBQed now, ready to serve inside bun! Four amazing, smoking, mind killer, making you an urgent order for fresh new grey cells kind of great stars for different kind of weird, political, ideological but definitely enjoyable story! Wow! This series of stories, written by multiple talented and mostly my favorite authors are really intriguing. And the best part of it, before you feel to urge for d Yes creepy as hell, do you smell the smoke? Yes, it’s coming from my brain cells and they’re BBQed now, ready to serve inside bun! Four amazing, smoking, mind killer, making you an urgent order for fresh new grey cells kind of great stars for different kind of weird, political, ideological but definitely enjoyable story! Wow! This series of stories, written by multiple talented and mostly my favorite authors are really intriguing. And the best part of it, before you feel to urge for dnf-ing, you realize you already finish it. And this is my first dance with N.K.Jemisin but as soon as I finished this story I turned into hyperactive cat embedded into her laptop, using claws as fast as I could muster to search the other books of the writer to be read! (Thanks God, my neighbors’ kids didn’t catch that embarrassing moment of mine and record it to the video for sharing on Youtube! Those evil stalkers already made so much money from me!) The story starts with a spaceman’s arrival to the Tellus a.k.a our world. The spaceman is not a regular guy, coming from really far away and created sorry colonized by a group of rich and white men who had left the world urgently when the sh*t hit the fan (I don’t know one of the man’s name is John Galt but I got real Atlas Shrugged vibes from them! You dirty little opportunists!) So the spaceman’s brain is already invaded by Al who talks to him incessantly, giving commands, telling him what he has to do! Seems like a little schizophrenic, right? But at least, Al doesn’t admit he’s God! (Probably he is atheist or he’s only worshipping to material things!) Al warns him the earth he landed is suffering from pollution, climatic change. But as soon as our spaceman sees everything has been told him is lie, he is not determined enough to complete his mission. We only read the dialogues coming from Al and the people on the earth but our spaceman’s lines who has a composite that is able to turn into human skin ( oh yes, the story’s name coming from that composite!), are omitted. We cannot read his answers so we need to use our imagination to fill the blanks. Let the most creative line writer wins! The message of the book is clear that socialism could be the way of survival! Well, I had some doubts about that because even the early super power had tried it and we’d seen the results. We’re living in a wilder world suffering from side effect from globalization. Instead of political work, scientific, social, psychological improvement would be more helpful for the human kind at their fights against extinction. That’s what I think! As a summary, if you skip the political message, I enjoyed the writing. I loved the story and its conclusion. My next book from series will be Blake Crouch’s stories. I think I should arrange an early meeting with my doctor to be put out my brain cells on the ice for a little break!

  3. 5 out of 5

    carol.

    A little soft and quite overt for Jemisin's capabilities, but I do appreciate the flip of the wish-fulfillment fantasy. An interesting tone, somewhat playful, that accomplishes that time-honored goal of holding up the mirror so that one recognize's one's own prejudices and environment. An intrepid explorer has landed, expecting a devastated Earth peopled with savages. As he works through his encounters, the reader comes to understand what happened way back when.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽

    3.75 stars. Review first posted on Fantasy Literature: A single spaceman arrives on Earth (which he calls “Tellus,” a Latin word similar to Terra) on an important mission from a far-off planet that was colonized by a group of rich white men who left Earth centuries ago. The spaceman, as well as the collective AI that was implanted in his brain and constantly speaks to him in his mind, expected to find a world completely barren of life, decimated by climate change and toxic pollution. 3.75 stars. Review first posted on Fantasy Literature: A single spaceman arrives on Earth (which he calls “Tellus,” a Latin word similar to Terra) on an important mission from a far-off planet that was colonized by a group of rich white men who left Earth centuries ago. The spaceman, as well as the collective AI that was implanted in his brain and constantly speaks to him in his mind, expected to find a world completely barren of life, decimated by climate change and toxic pollution. What they actually find is far different, and both the man and his chatty AI have huge problems adjusting to this new reality. But can the man still fulfill his mission? If he succeeds, he’s been promised a beautiful pale (read: Aryan) skin when he returns home. On his planet, everyone except those in the highest class of society wears a featureless, high-tech artificial skin called a composite. But this man’s composite has the ability, in an emergency, to turn into human skin … though not exactly the skin he’s been promised. Emergency Skin, a science fiction novella by the highly-talented N.K. Jemisin, is cleverly told, with a timely and crowd-pleasing message (at least, the more liberal part of the crowd). It’s written in an unusual, slightly tricky style that takes a little getting used to. Primarily the narrative voice is that of the collective AI talking to the space traveler in his mind, and you also see what Earth’s inhabitants are saying to the spaceman. But Jemisin skips over what the man actually is saying back to them, so you have to do a healthy amount of reading between the lines. The AI in the man’s brain incessantly badgers, instructs and indoctrinates the man (or at least tries to). The AI is described as a “dynamic-matrix consensus intelligence encapsulating the ideals and blessed rationality of our Founders”: essentially, it’s deep-coded with their planet’s social philosophy, and its one-sided dialogue is highly revealing about their society. Emergency Skin is a hopeful book, and I loved that about it. It’s strongly anti-prejudice — in stark contrast to the spaceman’s society — and pro-socialism — also in contrast to his society. This novella is fundamentally message fiction that doesn’t care at all to be subtle about its message. On a personal level I’m dubious about the idea(view spoiler)[ that socialism is a system that could save the planet and its ecology and form the basis of a utopian society if the selfish, sexist and otherwise horribly prejudiced men in power would go away (hide spoiler)] , but you can’t argue that this story doesn’t have a point of view. Given Jemisin’s past conflicts with Vox Day, I like to think she had great fun picturing Day, Trump and all their ilk jumping on a spaceship (taking as many of Earth’s resources with them as they possibly could, of course) and how that would play out. I had fun reading it, and I think most others will too. Emergency Skin is part of the FORWARD collection proposed and curated by Blake Crouch. It’s a set of six stand-alone novellas, each by a different author, that explore the “resounding effects of a pivotal technological moment.” The other authors are Crouch, Veronica Roth, Amor Towles (author of A Gentleman in Moscow), Paul Tremblay and Andy Weir. You can buy the individual novellas in ebook form for $1.99 each or $5.94 for the whole set. I’ve bought the set and am looking forward to reading the rest.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Lena

    “Six billion people working toward a goal together is much more effective than a few dozen scrabbling for themselves.” N.K. Jemisin needs to write more Solarpunk because this little taste was delicious. When things went downhill the rich left Earth, which was all the motivation the rest needed to come together for The Big Cleanup. It was simple: “People just decided to take care of each other.”

  6. 5 out of 5

    Char

    LOVED. THIS. I don't know how to categorize it, and I don't know what else to say about it. It was intriguing and then it changed into something else altogether. A fable of sorts? Maybe. A warning of sorts? Maybe. Then again, maybe it was just created as a mirror so we could take a good look at ourselves? How about all of the above? Highly recommended!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Kayla Dawn

    This is my favorite from this collection so far and I only have two more missing.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Hamad

    This Review ✍ Blog 📖 Twitter 🐦 Instagram 📷 ★ This was the second novella I read from the collection and I was so excited about it because I have heard great things about the author and always wanted to try her works and this seemed like a good chance to get a glimpse! ★ The novella uses the second person POV which worked well for the story and for a story so short, it could discuss major themes quickly and in a funny way. I did not expect to get all of that in 30 pages. ★ I think there is This Review ✍️ Blog 📖 Twitter 🐦 Instagram 📷 ★ This was the second novella I read from the collection and I was so excited about it because I have heard great things about the author and always wanted to try her works and this seemed like a good chance to get a glimpse! ★ The novella uses the second person POV which worked well for the story and for a story so short, it could discuss major themes quickly and in a funny way. I did not expect to get all of that in 30 pages. ★ I think there is no point in talking much about this one because it is better just to go and read it! I am sure I will read the author's books soon though! You can get more books from Book Depository

  9. 5 out of 5

    Veronique

    Excellent short story! Not only does Jemisin concoct a brilliant tale, one full of derision and irony, commenting on many recognisable prejudices, but she does it through a distinctly different narration. It is very smart and yet so entertaining. I kept smiling at what is said in between the lines, listening to Jason Isaacs’s perfect rendition. Ultimately, I loved it for the glimpse we get of this new world...

  10. 5 out of 5

    Richard Derus

    Real Rating: 4.75* of five The Publisher Says: What will become of our self-destructed planet? The answer shatters all expectations in this subversive speculation from the Hugo Award–winning author of the Broken Earth trilogy. An explorer returns to gather information from a climate-ravaged Earth that his ancestors, and others among the planet’s finest, fled centuries ago. The mission comes with a warning: a graveyard world awaits him. But so do those left behind—hopeless and unbeaut/>The Real Rating: 4.75* of five The Publisher Says: What will become of our self-destructed planet? The answer shatters all expectations in this subversive speculation from the Hugo Award–winning author of the Broken Earth trilogy. An explorer returns to gather information from a climate-ravaged Earth that his ancestors, and others among the planet’s finest, fled centuries ago. The mission comes with a warning: a graveyard world awaits him. But so do those left behind—hopeless and unbeautiful wastes of humanity who should have died out eons ago. After all this time, there’s no telling how they’ve devolved. Steel yourself, soldier. Get in. Get out. And try not to stare. N. K. Jemisin’s Emergency Skin is part of Forward, a collection of six stories of the near and far future from out-of-this-world authors. Each piece can be read or listened to in a single thought-provoking sitting. THESE SIX STORIES ARE FREE TO READ FOR ALL PRIME MEMBERS. NO KINDLE UNLIMITED NEEDED. AS LONG AS YOUR MEMBERSHIP REMAINS IN GOOD STANDING THEY WILL REMAIN IN YOUR COLLECTION. My Review: The voice you hear in your head, you know the one that tells you how awful/bad/ugly/unworthy you are compared to...well...I guess that's a moving target, isn't it...takes on a special and especially malevolent life in this tale of what a low-class raider from one of Earth's long-gone colonies finds when the Mothership of Humanity is in its sights at last. There is an AI in the slave being's head narrating the Founders' take on what was Earth (they use the name Tellus for the planet, just go look at the storytelling sources for that term!) in its final death-agonies: There were just too many people, and too many of those were unfit, infirm, too old, or too young. Even the physically ideal ones were slow thinkers, timid spirits. There was not enough collective innovation or strength of will between them to solve the problems Tellus faced, and so we did the only merciful thing we could: we left them behind. The Founders, a few thousand of the most awful amoral greedy rotters the Earth is infested with, have made it off-planet and engineered a perfect slave economy. All the slaves are, well, cyborgs is the best word I've got for them; they are promised the gift of SKIN when they complete their raid of Earth's supplies of HeLa cells that the Founders need to make themselves immortal. Skin. A gift. A reward for being the obedient little slave who brings home what she can't have so her masters the Founders is...skin, ordinary human skin, the natural interface between us and the world, the very idea that this is a reward: If you complete this mission, you’ll be a hero. Why would we refuse you what you’re due? The narrative voice of the AI programmed by the Founders to keep their slave obedient and unquestioning spouts casuistries thus. The reward of skin, of being like the Founders, is at last causing the slave to question, to wonder why the Founders would keep their word. At last! The chattering horror of the AI's minatory, judgmental view of the Earth's inhabitants, those who were left behind as the Founders left and who the slave has been told are degenerate savages left to wallow in a broken, terrible world devastated by the Founders themselves for their own selfish benefit: The Founders were the geniuses, the makers who moved nations with a word. We left because it would’ve cost too much to fix the world. Cheaper to build a new one. *** At home, we maintain only as many people as we can safely sustain: six thousand total, including servi and mercennarii. *** Only a few can have everything, don’t you see? ...and, the slave begins to wonder, what would make those who see the world in these terms offer membership in the literally immortal elite to a slave... So the story wends its way from the slave's enbedded AI spouting awful stuff into the slave's unquestioning self to oversharing just enough to cause a cloud of suspicion to form to...well. That would be telling. While this story is not subtle in making its points and drawing its thick, ruler-straight lines between the ideas it wants you to absorb, it is a fun and funny take on what "staying woke" really means. It is no wonder that the whiny Founders left today's incels and race warriors to die in their waste products. One would need to be of unusual dimness not to see the truth of Author Jemisin's comedically exaggerated points. I take a quarter-point off for her one narrative infelicity: the AI only responds, and never do we hear the thought the slave creature formulates. It creates an unnecessary and slightly if increasingly unpleasant sense of being thwacked on the nose in order to be kept in line by an untrusting author. Presenting the subordinate being itself speaking, even if internally, causing the AI's addresses to us the readers to fit into a responsive mode instead of a hectoring one, would lessen that "THINK THIS NOW" sensation. I find its absence of subtlety undesirable; it can, when overused, make the brevity it allows the author to maintain to become more a kind of cursory-ness. "I won't fill in this shaded area, I will make it impossible to see it instead." It suits the story in many ways. The reader is not persuaded but instructed exactly as the slave is. But Author Jemisin is a far, far superior craftsperson to need to rely on that level of didacticism to create the urgent, and urgently needed, message of this screed against greed.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Milda Page Runner

    Political manifesto/sci-fi. I think this read was too soon after Light Brigade. Whilst political ideas are actual in the current climate, with Brexit madness and all I feel there there is too much politics stuffed down my throat as it is. I want more escapism from my sci-fi and fantasy. That said at least it's short and not grim. Free with Kindle Unlimited.

  12. 4 out of 5

    preoccupiedbybooks

    A hopeful and amusing short story with a unique POV, about how we could change the world and make it better. An explorer goes back to Earth on a secret mission, after his ancestors fled centuries previously due to the destruction of the planet. What awaits him? I have been wanting to read some N.K. Jemisin for a while now, and actually own The Fifth Season. I might be moving that book up my tbr list now after reading this great little story! At first the narration style surprised me, but I really liked it! 👍 It was written fbetter.An A hopeful and amusing short story with a unique POV, about how we could change the world and make it better. An explorer goes back to Earth on a secret mission, after his ancestors fled centuries previously due to the destruction of the planet. What awaits him? I have been wanting to read some N.K. Jemisin for a while now, and actually own The Fifth Season. I might be moving that book up my tbr list now after reading this great little story! At first the narration style surprised me, but I really liked it! 👍 It was written from a second person POV, and done really well, it almost felt more personal written like that? I've seen that a lot of other people have listened to the audiobook of this by Jason Isaacs, and really rated it, I can certainly see how it would really work in that format because of the way it has been written! I read it in Kindle format, and also enjoyed it, flying through the 33 pages in no time at all! I'm not actually sure how Jemisin managed to fit so much into those 33 pages, she must be some kind of magician! It was the perfect length, yet somehow left me wanting more of this world... There were some heavy topics in the book, but they were dealt with in a light and amusing way? It felt very relevant to what's going on politically and environmentally at the moment. It's definitely not subtle with it's positive message and some people might find it a little heavy handed and preachy, but I quite loved that! I did want to include some quotes, but it was hard to do so without giving away spoilers! I would definitely recommend this imaginative, optimistic and entertaining take on the future!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Anna Luce

    ★★★★✰ 4 stars Now this is how you write a great short story. There is a reason why many, me included, regard N.K. Jemisin as one of the best speculative fiction writers out there it’s because of stories such as this one. One of her greatest strengths is her ability to use innovative writing perspectives in such a compelling way. In Emergency Skin she once again masterfully utilises the second person point of view. The narrative never lets us see through the eyes of the explorer himself and we follow the progress o/>Now ★★★★✰ 4 stars Now this is how you write a great short story. There is a reason why many, me included, regard N.K. Jemisin as one of the best speculative fiction writers out there it’s because of stories such as this one. One of her greatest strengths is her ability to use innovative writing perspectives in such a compelling way. In Emergency Skin she once again masterfully utilises the second person point of view. The narrative never lets us see through the eyes of the explorer himself and we follow the progress of him mission thanks to the running commentary of his 'ancestors' that thanks to some advanced form of technology are able to give him directions and orders. They refer to him as 'you', answer to his questions and or comments, and attempt to command his every action. Time and again they remind him that the successful completion of his mission will result in his earning his skin. Because yes, the explorer comes from a society that considers skin a privilege that only a few should have. Things do not go as planned as the explorer, much to his ancestors chagrin, discovers that the planet Earth isn't the rusty shell he was it would be. The vivid narrative and intriguing storyline immediately grabbed my attention. Although speculative in nature there many aspects that make this short story quite topical. Jemisin manages to comment on the behaviour of a certain group of people without turning her story into a didactic one. Her organic storytelling allows her to work within her story a discussion and interrogation regarding our world's current state of affair...and in some ways one could see this story as a cautionary tale of sorts as it presents us with some of the worst aspects of our society. There are plenty of clever and thoughtful arguments within Emergency Skin which is why I would be happy to read this again. This is yet another example of Jemisin's rich imagination. I listened to the audiobook edition narrated by Jason Isaacs, actor best known for portraying the imperious Lucius Malfoy....and maybe that's why his voice perfectly lends itself to that of the ancestors. What a terrific narrator! Read more reviews on my blog / / / View all my reviews on Goodreads

  14. 5 out of 5

    Pujashree

    Non-dystopian climate fiction? Of course Jemisin would figure out how to do that brilliantly with a fantastically unique POV. Also, choosing Lucius Malfoy (Jason Isaacs) as the voice of the villainous narrator AI is just so so perfect. Ugh, how dare such a short story be so completely brilliant!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Silvana

    A utopian idea bursting with political statements, which could be too on the nose for some crowds, yet undeniably amusing and thought-provoking. I adore the second person POV. The audiobook is narrated by Jason Isaacs so that"s another plus.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Alex Bright

    This was lovely, and oddly hopeful. I enjoyed it very much! It's the first of Jemisin's work I've read, but it certainly won't be the last.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Matthew Quann

    It should come as little surprise to those of us in the SF/F community, but N.K. Jemisin KILLS this story. Of course, she's given more than adequate support through the fantastic audio narration of Jason Isaacs who sells a one-sided conversation with grace and style. This story is hilarious, and outright entertaining throughout. Though I think of Jemisin as an author of pretty serious speculative fiction and fantasy, this story is light and humorous. Indeed, though it tackles some heavy themes i It should come as little surprise to those of us in the SF/F community, but N.K. Jemisin KILLS this story. Of course, she's given more than adequate support through the fantastic audio narration of Jason Isaacs who sells a one-sided conversation with grace and style. This story is hilarious, and outright entertaining throughout. Though I think of Jemisin as an author of pretty serious speculative fiction and fantasy, this story is light and humorous. Indeed, though it tackles some heavy themes it does so in a way that managed to be more satirical than accusatory. My road trip companion found this one to be a bit preachy, but I didn't think anything was too ham-fisted. This one or the Towles' story were my favourites of the six!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Dawn C

    Again I feel like Nemisin writes better short stories than novels. This was excellent, and I’m definitely going to read the rest of the Forward collection by various authors, if this is an indicator of the quality.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Obsidian

    Definitely going to read the other stories in this collection. This was a wonderful way to pass the day in bed on Sunday. Also this weekend in the U.S. we should be seeing a cool down. There is even snow happening in some parts. And as for me I am going leaf peeping. So this book was the perfect thing to read especially with the discussion of climate change going on. So "Emergency Skin" follows an unseen narrator talking to someone who is going back to someone placed Tellus. The narra Definitely going to read the other stories in this collection. This was a wonderful way to pass the day in bed on Sunday. Also this weekend in the U.S. we should be seeing a cool down. There is even snow happening in some parts. And as for me I am going leaf peeping. So this book was the perfect thing to read especially with the discussion of climate change going on. So "Emergency Skin" follows an unseen narrator talking to someone who is going back to someone placed Tellus. The narrator reads as more robotic than anything as does the person they are conversing with. We quickly realize though that Tellus sounds familiar. We find out quickly, how Tellus inhabitants were left to die when the planet started to die, but now the narrator is forcing person #2 to go off and find something that is needed. Once they do, they will be given an emergency skin. I don't know what to call the narrator/consciousness character besides an ass. The character I call Person #2 I was intrigued with and wanted to find out more about. We do get an information dump via a secondary character which almost made me mark this down by a star, but I just let it go. FYI I loathe information dumps via characters. I have to say that so far this writing was intriguing and I wished that Jemisin had written more. This was the shortest story in the collection so far. I had so many questions. I was interested in reading about the "Founders" who would probably have loved Gilead. I also thought it was funny how the narrator was negative towards anything Tellus. The setting of this book was intriguing especially once Person #2 starts to go around Tellus. It's also interesting how the narrator/consciousness was derisive towards the "skin color" of the people of Tellus that were met by Person #2, how they didn't like anyone that was "fat", disabled, or old. Apparently people are still racist and ablest in the future. Also to read how the Founders created "skin" and what that led to creeped me out. I loved the ending especially when I figured out who the Founders were.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Diane

    I really, really enjoyed this short story! It’s hilarious. Using absurdity Jemisin illuminates a hopeful attitude of how we could change our world for the better. I listened to the audio book narrated by Jason Isaacs who is nothing short of brilliant.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Cathy

    Entertaining. Subversive. Amusing. My first Jemisin. Maybe not my last. Hard to put down. The unusual POV was well done and increased my fun through coming up with the missing part of the conversation. Jason Isaac did a great job with the audio narration. But I expected no less from him.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Sahitya

    This is one of six short stories published by Amazon and all of them deal with some sort of technological advancements which is not my usual kind of genre, so I don’t think these would have even been on my radar if not for this short story by N. K. Jemisin. And she never disappoints. I’ve actually come to associate second person POV with the author, so I wasn’t at all surprised when this story began the same way. As per the premise, I was expecting the space explorer to find a much de This is one of six short stories published by Amazon and all of them deal with some sort of technological advancements which is not my usual kind of genre, so I don’t think these would have even been on my radar if not for this short story by N. K. Jemisin. And she never disappoints. I’ve actually come to associate second person POV with the author, so I wasn’t at all surprised when this story began the same way. As per the premise, I was expecting the space explorer to find a much destroyed Earth but what he encounters is something completely unexpected. The author tells most of the story through the AI which lives inside his head (if we could even call it that), giving instructions to him about what to do on Earth and what rewards await. In just this short story, we get a great glimpse of the kind of new society these so-called Founders have built in a far away galaxy - a white homogeneous male world in which only the rich and privileged have access to skin and all other pleasures, whereas the majority live in composite suits. The major theme of the story is the belief in a socialist utopian society, the idea that all the earth’s problems would be solved if all human beings worked towards the betterment of everybody and not just themselves. In a story that’s just about 33 pages, we get excellent commentary on misogyny, fat shaming, racism, classism, ableism and capitalist greed and while the author’s solution to save the world might not feel realistic, the underlying problems she talks about are nevertheless completely true. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong in envisioning a world that’s better for every one of its inhabitants. In the end, all I can say is that Jemisin packs a powerful punch in just a few words, and it’s overall hopeful message is brilliantly done. It’s a very short, enjoyable and thought provoking read and I think everyone should give it a try. You’ll of course enjoy it more if you are familiar with the author’s writing style (and like it) or lean more left liberal in your politics. I haven’t still decided if I should try the remaining five stories in this collection, but maybe I should.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Lesley

    I loved everything about this: the completely different take on the dystopian genre, the unique narrative voice and the absolute relevance of the story’s moral to our current world political situation. Brilliantly told in Jemisin’s usual imaginative style, this short, but powerful tale will stay with me for awhile yet.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Monica

    Loved it! Why not a little earth wide Kumbaya! Bring it!! 4.5 Stars Listened to the audiobook. Jason Isaacs was superb!

  25. 4 out of 5

    MeaganCM

    Jemisin is my fave 😍 and she does NOT disappoint with this one! Her stories are always so layered and I am amazed at how much she was able to pack into such a small number of pages. And her use of second person POV never fails to suck me in and gut punch me. She is a genius! I am definitely going to listen to the audio version, which will absolutely enhance the second person POV 😎

  26. 5 out of 5

    Henk

    A compelling short story on a traveller returning to earth ”Sometimes that’s all it takes to save a world, you see. A new vision. A new way of thinking, appearing at just the right time.” The stories in the Forward short story collection of Amazon are till now turning out to be quite optimistic. Emergency Skin narrates a story of an unnamed traveller going to an abandoned earth. What unfolds is firmly in the spoiler area, but we are drip fed information skillfully by Jemisin. Our scout is accompanied by/>”Sometimes A compelling short story on a traveller returning to earth ”Sometimes that’s all it takes to save a world, you see. A new vision. A new way of thinking, appearing at just the right time.” The stories in the Forward short story collection of Amazon are till now turning out to be quite optimistic. Emergency Skin narrates a story of an unnamed traveller going to an abandoned earth. What unfolds is firmly in the spoiler area, but we are drip fed information skillfully by Jemisin. Our scout is accompanied by an omniscient (but clearly not omnipotent) AI, that tells the story in a tone of voice which is a cross between a smug C3PO and Wikipedia. Some quotes are below: [Reference request denied.] You don’t need to know about that yet. Please focus, and limit your curiosity. All that matters is the mission. You can’t fail. It’s too important. Certainly you may reject our advice, but— Only a few can have everything, don’t you see? It has to be one or the other. Either some fly, or everyone gets stuck crawling around in the mud. That’s just how it is. In the end the political message in Emergency Skin is simple, that if we just rid ourselves of parasites (a.k.a. The Rich, Entitled and Established) we’d become our best altruistic self and everything will turn to the better. It’s like an answer to Anthem of Ayn Rand in a way, more exciting and less preachery, but still overly simplistic and maybe a bit too complacent for the problems we face in our here and now. Three stars.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jane

    I have several books by this writer in my "to read pile". This is my first time reading this author and I can't wait to read more. This is about someone sent back to earth long after it is supposedly destroyed. He was sent to try to find some cells that are required by the Founders, the main power on that plant. The Founders originally fled Earth to survive. The one sent back is implanted with nanites that communicate with him in his head. I loved reading his reaction to what he finds I have several books by this writer in my "to read pile". This is my first time reading this author and I can't wait to read more. This is about someone sent back to earth long after it is supposedly destroyed. He was sent to try to find some cells that are required by the Founders, the main power on that plant. The Founders originally fled Earth to survive. The one sent back is implanted with nanites that communicate with him in his head. I loved reading his reaction to what he finds on Earth and the decision he makes at the end is incredible. I don't want to say too much this is a story that should be experienced.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Gabi

    This was a wonderfully entertaining and positive view of the future. I loved the simple solution to societies' problems as it slowly percolates through the perception of the computer voice in the head of the protagonist. The second person POV is a delightful way to turn this story personal. The 'what are you doing?' moments were just great. I listened to this on audio. Jason Isaacs' narration is brilliant.

  29. 4 out of 5

    zanzarr

    My first encounter with Jemisin's work was The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms and I was enthralled from the first chapter. The worldbuilding there and the rich, immense history she managed to unspool so beautifully was astonishing. She had over four-hundred pages to work with then, however, plenty of time set a comfortable pace and walk her readers through the more imaginative aspects of the novel. What is astounding about Emergency Skin (and her anthology How Long Til Black Future Month) is that she My first encounter with Jemisin's work was The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms and I was enthralled from the first chapter. The worldbuilding there and the rich, immense history she managed to unspool so beautifully was astonishing. She had over four-hundred pages to work with then, however, plenty of time set a comfortable pace and walk her readers through the more imaginative aspects of the novel. What is astounding about Emergency Skin (and her anthology How Long Til Black Future Month) is that she's able to artfully package vivid worlds of deep history and fulfilling, refreshing protagonists (who veer sharply from the white cis male staple of the genre) in little more than thirty pages. The story here, a cautionary tale of the inherently destructive nature of unchecked capitalism and greed, feels full and complete, yet leaves your mind wondering at the possibilities of the future she's envisioned. A world without the profit-driven agendas of the 1% and big corporations and all that such a reality could entail, no borders and no global environmental ruin for starters. And the prospective from which she narrates this tale is nontraditional and delightful. Readers come to learn about the world from the one-sided conversations an AI implant has with its host as it attempts to advise them on their interstellar mission from their Founders. Equally delightful is her commentary on race and gender and her (view spoiler)[inclusion of Henrietta Lacks' legacy (hide spoiler)] . While reading I had a number of audible reactions and I was so eager to gush and discuss. The story is phenomenal and I'll definitely be rereading.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Anomaly

    I wanted science fiction, not a comically heavy-handed political statement with caricatures of the extremeists on both sides. The evil people are all rich, white capitalists who check of literally every possible ticky-box for bigotry there is: gender, race, age, disability, financial/working class status, hair type, sexuality, body size. The good people are all purely communist, non-white, predominantly female, patronizing and blindly accepting of violence from outsiders. There's no moderation h I wanted science fiction, not a comically heavy-handed political statement with caricatures of the extremeists on both sides. The evil people are all rich, white capitalists who check of literally every possible ticky-box for bigotry there is: gender, race, age, disability, financial/working class status, hair type, sexuality, body size. The good people are all purely communist, non-white, predominantly female, patronizing and blindly accepting of violence from outsiders. There's no moderation here. There's no compromise, no believable middle ground, nothing but pure extremism on both sides. The story was interesting until it got heavy-handed political, at which point it was just immensely uncomfortable from every possible angle. Being written in second person, it means the reader has a disembodied voice directly addressing them while talking trash about others who are fat, brown, disabled, old, female, etc. It means the reader has someone directly speaking to them to disregard the gender of another character and insist she's a man. It means that there's no reprieve from the heavy-handed, mustache-twirling villain level bigotry... and when finally the reader character breaks away from the idealogy of the disembodied voice (an AI embedded in their head), then comes the other side bearing down with insistence that as soon as the white capitalists yeeted themselves into the galaxy far, far away, Earth was suddenly able to make itself better and be a perfect utopia. What about all the non-white governments with oppresive regimes? What about all the non-capitalists who are still greedy and self-serving? What about people in general who fall somewhere between the two extremes? Shh, don't think about those, the world was suddenly able to overcome an apocalyptic level of doom just by getting rid of the caricatures of rich white men. I think what frustrates me the most is that, if the absurdly overdone, anvil-on-the-head level politicism had been toned down to far more believable levels or left out completely, this would have actually achieved the statement it seems so desperate to make without getting into obnoxious levels of politicism. (I read to escape, not to have more of the overwhelming crap in the real world thrown at me, ESPECIALLY when it comes to science fiction.) The storytelling style itself is interesting and inventive. The worldbuilding is intriguing. The concept in general is amazing. The execution, however, is nothing short of a complete and utter disappointment. I feel like I wasted my time reading this one, and that makes me sad.

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