Author: N.K. Jemisin
Series: Forward Collection #3
Publisher: Amazon Original Stories
Released: September 17th, 2019
N.K. Jemisin’s Emergency Skin is the third novella in the Forward Collection – a project created by six different authors. The entire idea of the project was to showcase a far-flung future, all written with the hopes of getting the reader (or listener) to think.
Far in the future, there lives a colony of Earthlings. They live far from Earth, and yet their habits haven’t changed as much as you might expect. Now they’re in dire need of a new sample from Earth, so they’ve sent one of their younglings to do the job for them.
The Earth was said to have been nearly destroyed, thanks to the way humanity had been treating it. So you can imagine the surprise of this young explorer when they came back home to find something completely unexpected.
“They still would build societies around their least and worst instead of the best and brightest.”
Emergency Skin was a beautifully crafted novella. Even without being told that it was written by N.K. Jemisin, I would have known this writing style anywhere. This science-fiction piece looked at humanity through two lenses, separating the toxic behaviors from the altruistic side of humanity. It was eye-opening and fascinating. And perhaps slightly depressing (but necessary).
The writing in Emergency Skin is also noteworthy. The storytelling style is first person – and yet we never get to hear our main perspectives words or thoughts. It reminds me a lot of the old video game technique, in which the main character is silent so the player can picture themselves in their place. It’s quite clever, and not something you normally see applied in books.
I honestly think that this is my favorite novella from the Forward Collection. It is elegantly written, and it certainly provides plenty of food for thought. This is sure to be one that sticks with me for a while to come.
As mentioned above, Emergency Skin is part of a collection of novellas. I’ve already read the others, so I can safely say that they’re all quite different from one another. But they’re all worth the read – especially if you’re interested in some food for thought.