PM Press’s Outspoken Authors series is a wonderful line of chapbooks introducing the work of radical science fiction authors; each book is a short mix of essays, interviews and novellas and short-stories (they honored me by producing The Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow, based on my work).
The newest volume is Report from Midnight, by Nalo Hopkinson, an absolutely wonderful Canadian-Caribbean writer whom I’ve known — and read! — since we were both teenagers working for the North York Public Library system in Toronto. Tor.com’s Brit Mandelo has a great writeup of the book:
Report from Planet Midnight Plus… reprints two stories, “Message in a Bottle” and “Shift,” as well as a transcript of Hopkinson’s 2010 speech to the audience at the International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts, “Report from Planet Midnight.” The volume closes with the quintessential long interview and a detailed bibliography (one of my favorite parts of these volumes, actually!).
The two stories in this little book form an intriguing duet. The first is science fictional in premise and intimate in focus; the second is a riff on Shakespeare’s The Tempest that explores issues of race, identity, and family. “Message in a Bottle” struck me as eerie—primarily because of Hopkinson’s vibrant, realistic use of narrative voice. Though the thought of a child with the mind of an adult, sent back in time to curate artifacts lost to their own world, is discomfiting on its own, it wouldn’t necessarily be so much so without the narrator’s perceptions coloring our initial encounter with the child. The opening scene, where the young Kamla has crushed a hermit crab while collecting shells, is uncomfortable primarily because the narrator finds it so uncomfortable: his voice guides the reader’s own reaction to the fragility of life in the hands of a child who doesn’t know any better.