Our bookseller says:
“Black girl magic, y’all can’t stand it, y’all can’t ban it, made out like a bandit, they been tryin’ hard just to make us all vanish, I suggest they put a flag on a whole ‘nother planet!” – Django Jane
At this point, I don’t think there’s a single thing that Janelle Monae can’t do. For those who aren’t already superfans, here’s a quick rundown: they’re a trailblazing musician, incredible actress, vocal philanthropist, and the city of Boston gave them their own holiday! Their debut book, The Memory Librarian, is an afrofuturist cyberpunk collection that builds on their last concept album, Dirty Computer. Settings range from cities to deserts, but the narrative always returns to a few consistent themes: queerness, community, racism, and utopia.
These stories have SUCH a strong and distinct voice, shocking in an author’s debut book, but Monae hits it out of the park! It helps that the writers she collaborated with (including Alaya Dawn Johnson and Eve Ewing!!!) are movers and shakers when it comes to Black feminist speculative fiction! The Memory Librarian is perfect for anyone looking for queer science fiction utopias, and it’s a vital addition to the afrofuturist canon. Think Octavia Butler meets Sun Ra meets Adrienne Maree Brown.
Messy, nuanced, and refreshingly utopian, I’m OBSESSED. – Terry
In The Memory Librarian: And Other Stories of Dirty Computer, singer-songwriter, actor, fashion icon, activist, and worldwide superstar Janelle Monáe brings to the written page the Afrofuturistic world of one of her critically acclaimed albums, exploring how different threads of liberation—queerness, race, gender plurality, and love—become tangled with future possibilities of memory and time in such a totalitarian landscape…and what the costs might be when trying to unravel and weave them into freedoms.
Whoever controls the memories controls the future.
Janelle Monáe and an incredible array of talented collaborating creators have written a collection of interwoven tales comprising the bold vision and powerful themes that have made Monáe such a compelling and celebrated storyteller. Dirty Computer introduced a world in which thoughts—as a means of self-conception—could be controlled or erased by a select few. And whether human, A.I., or other, your life and sentience was dictated by those who’d convinced themselves they had the right to decide your fate.
That was until Jane 57821 decided to remember and break free.
Expanding from that mythos, these stories fully explore what it’s like to live in such a totalitarian world…and what it takes to get out of it. Building off the traditions of speculative writers such as Octavia Butler, Ted Chiang, Becky Chambers, and Nnedi Okorafor—and filled with the artistic genius and powerful themes that have made Monáe a worldwide icon in the first place—The Memory Librarian serves readers tales of race, gender identity, and love, but also of space, time, and, of course, the power of memory.