Writing the Song of a City: The City We Became by N. K. Jemisin – tor.com

December 14, 2021 by No Comments

In the lead-up to the 2021 Hugo Awards, we’re taking time to appreciate this year’s best novel Finalists, and what makes each of them great.

“I sing the city.”

With one sentence, multiple award-winning writer N. K. Jemisin brought her readers into the fantastical and fractal world of New York City. Well known for her secondary world fantasy, with stories of bound gods, dream priests, and tectonic mothers, in The City We Became Jemisin brings all of her creative might to bear on one of the most magical cities in the world: NYC, baby. Springing forth from a sparkling short story, “The City Born Great,” Jemisin’s tale of Cities and their heroes, the midwives who help Cities reach maturation, and that terrible, cosmic horror that drifts beneath the skin of reality looking to consume newly birthed Cities comments on the joys, the battles, and the horrors of our very own world.

Anyone who’s ever walked the streets of New York City can feel a certain thrum in the concrete; it’s intoxicating for newcomers and residents alike. And the longer you live there, the more you can hear the heartbeat of the city, understand how it can change keys borough by borough, building the song of New York City itself. The bones and blood that Manhattan was built on intertwining with the red rush of freedom, capitalism, and skyscrapers; the historic and vibrant foundations of Brooklyn; the deep pride and strong community of the Bronx; the shoulder-to-shoulder, joyful immigrant families of Queens; and the off-beat sneer of Staten Island. And in The City We Became, all of that is about to become alive in a way that is rare and beautiful—if it can survive the birthing process. For The Enemy lurks just beneath NYC in a place of mouths and tentacles and teeth, a seething, toxic thing that waits for new cities of the world and devours them whole. And in the opening pages, it almost succeeds. Almost.

The avatar of New York City does his best to defend his home, but it’s too much, too overwhelming. The Enemy has struck too quickly, and the city begins to shatter in the assault. He needs help. And so he sinks his mind into the city itself and spreads out his power, finding five people, one for each borough beyond his own Manhattan, to become the city with him. One by one, in the wake of The Enemy’s first strike on the City, the avatars of the boroughs awaken, not just to their new powers and the deadly Woman in White—the avatar of The Enemy—but to each …….

Source: https://www.tor.com/2021/12/14/hugo-spotlight-the-city-we-became-by-nk-jemisin/


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