The Memory Librarian: And Other Stories of Dirty Computer
April 26, 2022 4:06 PM - Subscribe

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.

"All readers will finish the book craving more of these extremely queer, bold stories that battle gatekeeping and erasure, digging into both the worst potential of a surveillance state and the gritty glimmer of the rebellion that can defeat it." - Booklist [starred]

"A celebration of queer and Afrofuturist science fiction saluting creativity in difference." - Kirkus

"Monáe's collection speaks to both the sf tradition of mind-control tyranny and the way that the powerful marginalize individuals in order to control the whole. Highly recommended for readers of conspiracy and thought-control sf or of Afrofuturist works by the likes of Octavia Butler, Nalo Hopkinson, N. K. Jemisin, and Nnedi Okorafor." - Library Journal [starred]

"Though a special treat for Dirty Computer fans, readers won't need to be familiar with the album to marvel at the big ideas, riveting action, and hopeful message here. This is a knockout." - Publishers Weekly [starred]
posted by johnofjack (5 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
This looks fantastic and, surprisingly, my local library has this available! I put a hold on it immediately. I say “surprisingly” because their SF offerings leave a whole lot to be desired, let alone afrofuturism.
posted by Thorzdad at 10:26 AM on April 27, 2022

Oh this looks amazing!
posted by miss-lapin at 1:21 AM on April 28, 2022

I finished this today and liked it a lot, though I felt like there were probably more connections between the stories than I picked up on (I listened to the audiobook, which [for me, at least] kind of lends itself to half-attention).

I especially like the intersectionalism, the community, the optimism, even the fact that one of the stories felt like a Twilight Zone conceit but didn't go for the obvious twist ending or end with heavy moralizing.

The book felt oddly healing, in spite of the dystopian setting. I'll probably read the print version later.
posted by johnofjack at 9:12 AM on April 30, 2022

I finally got the book from my library hold, and have only made my way through the titular story, so this is only an early impression...

It took me a little bit to get used to Monáe‘s prose, but, once I found her rhythm and style, it was a captivating read. She builds an interesting world in this story. She doesn’t do much in the way of hand-holding, though, so you are left to make sense of a lot of the situation yourself (I’m hoping more details are filled-in through the proceeding stories.) So far, though, I am very much enjoying this world and the characters she brings to it.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:45 AM on May 27, 2022

Thorzdad, I remember feeling similarly bewildered at the beginning--the authors don't foreground much of what Jo Walton calls "incluing"--but I felt like I got a better handle on most of it as it went along. I'm not sure why it happened exactly, but I did feel more immediately comfortable with the worlds of, say, Seanan McGuire and Martha Wells (and even with the world of the Radch trilogy) than this one. I'm not sure if the worlds were that different from each other, or if the authors were just more aggressive about incluing, but it seems like a bit of a risky approach which might not work for everyone.

In any case, I hope you like/liked it!
posted by johnofjack at 1:07 PM on June 1, 2022

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