Octavia E. Butler
Two never-before-published stories from the archives of one of science fiction’s all-time mastersThe novella “A Necessary Being” showcases Octavia E. Butler’s ability to create alien yet fully believable “others.” Tahneh’s father was a Hao, one of a dwindling race whose leadership abilities render them so valuable that their members are captured and forced to govern. When her father dies, Tahneh steps into his place, both chief and prisoner, and for twenty years has ruled without ever meeting another of her kind. She bears her loneliness privately until the day that a Hao youth is spotted wandering into her territory. As her warriors sharpen their weapons, Tahneh must choose between imprisoning the newcomer—and living the rest of her life alone.The second story in this volume, “Childminder,” was commissioned by Harlan Ellison for his legendary (and never-published) anthology The Last Dangerous Visions™. A disaffected telepath connects with a young girl in a desperate attempt to help her harness her growing powers. But in the richly evocative fiction of Octavia E. Butler, mentorship is a rocky path, and every lesson comes at a price.
Nick Pearson is hiding in plain sight…My name isn’t really Nick Pearson.I shouldn’t tell you where I’m from or why my family moved to Stepton, Virginia.I shouldn’t tell you who I really am, or my hair, eye, and skin color.And I definitely shouldn’t tell you about my friend Eli Cruz and the major conspiracy he was about to uncover when he died—right after I moved to town. About how I had to choose between solving his murder with his hot sister, Reya, and “staying low-key” like the Program has taught me. About how moving to Stepon changed my life forever.But I’m going to.
When I Was the Greatest
In Bed Stuy, New York, a small misunderstanding can escalate into having a price on your head—even if you’re totally clean. This gritty, triumphant debut captures the heart and the hardship of life for an urban teen.A lot of the stuff that gives my neighborhood a bad name, I don’t really mess with. The guns and drugs and all that, not really my thing.Nah, not his thing. Ali’s got enough going on, between school and boxing and helping out at home. His best friend Noodles, though. Now there’s a dude looking for trouble—and, somehow, it’s always Ali around to pick up the pieces. But, hey, a guy’s gotta look out for his boys, right? Besides, it’s all small potatoes; it’s not like anyone’s getting hurt.And then there’s Needles. Needles is Noodles’s brother. He’s got a syndrome, and gets these ticks and blurts out the wildest, craziest things. It’s cool, though: everyone on their street knows he doesn’t mean anything by it.Yeah, it’s cool…until Ali and Noodles and Needles find themselves somewhere they never expected to be…somewhere they never should’ve been—where the people aren’t so friendly, and even less forgiving.
The Cineaste: Poems
A. Van Jordan
A remarkable montage of poems that explore film, poetry, and the elusiveness of reverie. In these poems that riff on A. Van Jordan’s life as a moviegoer, film serves as the setting for reverie, memoir, and pure fantasy. At the center is a sonnet sequence that imagines the struggle of pioneer filmmaker Oscar Micheaux against D. W. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation, which Micheaux saw not only as racist but also as the start of a powerful new art form.from “Last Year at Marienbad”A place, though visible, is like a ghostof memories. Even memories one forgetslinger in the space in which they occurred.Here within the expanse of vaulted ceilings, doorways leading to more doors, hallwaysleading to more halls, the faintest recollectionsabsorb over time; no act will wholly evanesce.
Book of Hours: Poems
A decade after the sudden and tragic loss of his father, we witness the unfolding of grief. “In the night I brush / my teeth with a razor,” he tells us, in one of the collection’s piercing two-line poems. Capturing the strange silence of bereavement (“Not the storm / but the calm / that slays me”), Kevin Young acknowledges, even celebrates, life’s passages, his loss transformed and tempered in a sequence about the birth of his son: in “Crowning,” he delivers what is surely one of the most powerful birth poems written by a man, describing “her face / full of fire, then groaning your face / out like a flower, blood-bloom,/ crocused into air.” Ending this book of both birth and grief, the gorgeous title sequence brings acceptance, asking “What good/are wishes if they aren’t / used up?” while understanding “How to listen / to what’s gone.” Young’s frank music speaks directly to the reader in these elemental poems, reminding us that the right words can both comfort us and enlarge our understanding of life’s mysteries.
Endangered: A Novel
Jean Love Cush
An innocent black teenager is accused of murder in this provocative and compassionate thriller that skillfully probes issues of race, class, crime, and injustice and offers a searing portrait of modern America.From the time her son, Malik, could walk, Janae taught him that the best way to stay alive and out of trouble with the law was to cooperate. Terrified for his safety, she warned him, “raise your hands high, keep your mouth shut, and do whatever they say,” if the police ever stopped him. But when a wave of murders hits Philadelphia and fifteen-year-old Malik is arrested, Janae’s terror is compounded by guilt and doubt: Would Malik have escaped jail if he’d run?Unable to see her son or pay for his defense, Janae, a cafeteria worker, reluctantly allows Roger Whitford, a white human rights attorney, to represent Malik. With the help of an ambitious private attorney named Calvin Moore, Roger is determined to challenge the entire criminal justice system and expose its inherent racism—racism that threatens the very existence of America’s young black men.Offering a startling and unprecedented defense, the lawyers spark a national firestorm of debate over race, prison, and politics that burns to the very core of Janae herself. As she battles to save her son, she begins to discover that she is also fighting for her own survival and that of her community.
The Wonder of All Things
From critically acclaimed and New York Times bestselling author Jason Mott comes a spellbinding tale of love, sacrifice and the power of miracles.On an ordinary day, at an air show like that in any small town across the country, a plane crashes into a crowd of spectators, killing and injuring dozens. But when the dust clears, a thirteen-year-old girl named Ava is found huddled beneath a pocket of rubble with her best friend, Wash. He is injured and bleeding, and when Ava places her hands over him, his wounds miraculously disappear.Ava has a unique gift: she can heal others of their physical ailments. Until the air show tragedy, her gift was a secret. But now the whole world knows, and suddenly Ava is thrust into the spotlight. People from all over the globe begin flocking to her small town, looking for healing and eager to glimpse the wonder of a miracle. But Ava’s unusual ability comes at a great cost her own health and as she grows weaker with each healing, Ava begins searching for an escape. Wash agrees to help Ava, but little does she know he has his own secret he’s been harboring, and soon Ava finds herself having to decide just how much she’s willing to sacrifice in order to save the one she loves most
The Unheralded King of Preston Plains Middle
From irascible patriarch Alonzo Grandpa Tuke Tooker on down, the Hopkins family altruistic Dottie, dissatisfied Chester, and their sons Langston and Trajan are no typical residents of the Thames River Valley town of Preston, Connecticut. This is perhaps most true of Langston, a boy whose peers declare him to be the King of Preston Plains Middle School: a vibrant young man dedicated to his dream of competing in Olympic-level Tae Kwon Do, as well as to his growing passion for his beautiful classmate Angelica Chu. Yet when a terrible accident brings Langston s Olympic dreams to an abrupt close, Trajan Hopkins, the family s youngest son, must learn to cope alone with the coming trials of adult life: his slowly changing relationship with self-destructing childhood friends, his initiation into the world of women at the hands of a former teacher, and his growing awareness of the risky world outside his family s circle within the shadow of a Haitian drug lord s operation and the often-threatening local police who watch over it. Jedah Mayberry s The Unheralded King of Preston Plains Middle marks the debut of a striking new voice in American fiction: intelligent, richly cadenced, slyly funny, and deeply thoughtful about what it means to be a son, a father, and a man.
Her daughter Ruthie’s easy ascent through school and university has been Mrs. B’s pride and joy for some time. But as the novel begins, she and her husband Charles are on their way to the airport to collect Ruthie, who has disgraced herself with a married man and a suicide attempt, and is, as they will soon discover, pregnant. Loosely inspired by Flaubert’s Madame Bovary, the novel focuses on the life of an upper-middle-class family in a contemporary Trinidad that is turbulent with violence and popular dissatisfactions, in response to which the family have retreated to a gated community. Mrs. B (she hates the name of Butcher) is fast approaching 50, and Ruthie’s return and the state of her marriage provoke her to some unaccustomed self-reflection. Much like Flaubert’s heroine, Mrs. B’s longings are diffuse but bounded by the assumptions of her social circle. And without ever losing sympathy for Mrs. B and her family, the novel asks some tough questions about what resources Mrs. B. can bring to her “issues” and how she can find meaning in her life. And what of Ruthie? Can her greater openness to the island challenge her easy acceptance of privilege? Behind both women is the complex and fascinating figure of Aunt Claire, the family’s reader, who has provided the only real nurture in Mrs. B’s life. Can she do the same for Ruthie? But, then, how far does her deep immersion in books really equip her for 21st-century Trinidadian life?
Back Channel: A novel
Stephen L. Carter
From the best-selling author of The Emperor of Ocean Park and The Impeachment of Abraham Lincoln-a new novel of terrific suspense and surprise: a brilliant amalgam of fact and fiction about a young black woman on whom the outcome of the Cuban Missile Crisis depends.October 1962. In Cuba: Soviet ships off-load what intelligence reveals to be nuclear missiles. In Washington, President Kennedy and his advisers are in furious debate over how long they can wait to discover what the Soviets intend before dropping the first bomb. And, in Ithaca, New York, Margo Jensen-a nineteen-year-old Cornell sophomore-is swept up in a “bizarre concatenation of circumstances” that will make of her the “back channel” liaison between Soviet Premier Khrushchev and Kennedy. Events unfold too quickly for her even to ask “why me?” But the stunning answer is revealed bit by bit as she races from Ithaca to Bulgaria to Washington, D.C., drawn ever more deeply into the crossfire-figurative and literal-of infighting between governmental agencies, both American and Soviet; into the confidence and-unsettlingly-the affection of the president of the United States; into desperate negotiations to avoid nuclear war; and, finally, into the secrets of the extraordinary legacy-of honor and bravery-she inherited from the father she never knew.