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The Memory Librarian: And Other Stories of Dirty Computer

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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 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 our memories controls the future. Janelle Monáe and an incredible array of talented collaborating creators have written a collection of 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 existence…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 grounded in the human trials of identity expression, technology, and love, but also reaching through to the worlds of memory and time within, and the stakes and power that exists there.


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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 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 our memories controls the future. Janelle Monáe and an incredible array of talented collaborating creators have written a collection of 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 existence…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 grounded in the human trials of identity expression, technology, and love, but also reaching through to the worlds of memory and time within, and the stakes and power that exists there.

30 review for The Memory Librarian: And Other Stories of Dirty Computer

  1. 5 out of 5

    Mjspice

    Janelle writing a sci-fi anthology?? Janelle writing a sci-fi anthology??

  2. 5 out of 5

    laurel [the suspected bibliophile]

    This was brilliant. I don't know that I've ever read an entire interconnected anthology based off an album before, but wow. What a concept, and what an interesting execution. As with most anthologies, some stories were absolutely amazing while others didn't land quite as well, but the overall concept and execution was good. I'm bouncing between a four and five star rating...landing on five for now. Full RTC. I received this ARC from NetGalley for an honest review This was brilliant. I don't know that I've ever read an entire interconnected anthology based off an album before, but wow. What a concept, and what an interesting execution. As with most anthologies, some stories were absolutely amazing while others didn't land quite as well, but the overall concept and execution was good. I'm bouncing between a four and five star rating...landing on five for now. Full RTC. I received this ARC from NetGalley for an honest review

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jenny (Reading Envy)

    These stories link back to Dirty Computer the album and Dirty Computer [Emotion Picture] that you can watch in YouTube. Written in collaboration with Yohanca Delgado, Eve L. Ewing, Alaya Dawn Johnson, Danny Lore, and Sheree Renée Thomas, all stories are set in this dystopian tech-totalitarian society where people who are outside the norms (aka Dirty Computers) are hunted down and imprisoned, memories wiped, and more. All stories are full of queerness, feminism, quirky creative elements, and posit These stories link back to Dirty Computer the album and Dirty Computer [Emotion Picture] that you can watch in YouTube. Written in collaboration with Yohanca Delgado, Eve L. Ewing, Alaya Dawn Johnson, Danny Lore, and Sheree Renée Thomas, all stories are set in this dystopian tech-totalitarian society where people who are outside the norms (aka Dirty Computers) are hunted down and imprisoned, memories wiped, and more. All stories are full of queerness, feminism, quirky creative elements, and positive spins on how humans could interact with one another. Thanks to the publisher for providing access to this title via NetGalley. This book came out April 19th, 2022.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Peter Lyon

    From her debut EP of Metropolis and the introduction of Cindi Mayweather to Dirty Computer, her latest album and "emotion picture" that centers on Jane's celebration of freedom, Monáe has spent her music career building a world where its inhabitants fight memory control, explore identity, navigate technology, and ultimately, organize towards liberation. The Memory Librarian is a culmination of that narrative and, just like her music, the results feel electric, hopeful, and new. The stories shift From her debut EP of Metropolis and the introduction of Cindi Mayweather to Dirty Computer, her latest album and "emotion picture" that centers on Jane's celebration of freedom, Monáe has spent her music career building a world where its inhabitants fight memory control, explore identity, navigate technology, and ultimately, organize towards liberation. The Memory Librarian is a culmination of that narrative and, just like her music, the results feel electric, hopeful, and new. The stories shift from city apartments to desert hideouts, from coworkers to families (both birth and chosen), from couples to communities but are united in their exploration of what it means to be free. References to songs and lyrics from Monáe's discography are sprinkled throughout the book which, beyond being just plain fun for her fans, serve as a reminder of how this years-long narrative has evolved. Already a formidable storyteller herself, Monáe collaborates with some super stellar and exciting writers (like the one and only Eve Ewing!) and it is their collective love of Afrofuturism, of queerness in its endless facets, of hope, community, and of love itself that comes together to send currents of energy humming throughout these pages.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Kaa

    Overall a four star read, bumped up to five for the last story, because I really needed some utopia this week. This is an intriguing exploration of the world built in Monáe's Dirty Computer emotion picture (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jdH2S...) and previous albums. I'd suggest the Dirty Computer video as part of your experience with this book, as the story told there is a direct prequel to one of the stories in Memory Librarian. I also recommend her other music/videos on general principle, a Overall a four star read, bumped up to five for the last story, because I really needed some utopia this week. This is an intriguing exploration of the world built in Monáe's Dirty Computer emotion picture (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jdH2S...) and previous albums. I'd suggest the Dirty Computer video as part of your experience with this book, as the story told there is a direct prequel to one of the stories in Memory Librarian. I also recommend her other music/videos on general principle, and there are a lot of references/connections with her music across the collection, but I don't think being familiar with her entire body of work is required to enjoy the collection. I liked seeing a more fleshed-out version of the world and characters across these five stories, but the most compelling aspect to me was actually the emotional arc of the collection, ending in a really sweet utopian story co-written with the legendary Sheree Renee Thomas. I also enjoyed the narration of the audiobook, provided alternately by Monáe herself and Bahni Turpin. I won a print ARC of this book in a GR giveaway, although I first read it as an audiobook from my library.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Raymond

    Review coming soon.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Gabriela Pop

    3.5/5 Very curious about whether there is anything Janelle Monae ~can't~ do, as it seems that they can and will excell at any art form they take on. I loved the concept behind Dirty Computer, so it was very exciting to see that world being expanded in these short stories. I thought this was a solid example of literary speculative fiction that is likely to appeal to both fans of Monae or readers engaging with this world for the first time through the story. Ultimately, however, I think the stories 3.5/5 Very curious about whether there is anything Janelle Monae ~can't~ do, as it seems that they can and will excell at any art form they take on. I loved the concept behind Dirty Computer, so it was very exciting to see that world being expanded in these short stories. I thought this was a solid example of literary speculative fiction that is likely to appeal to both fans of Monae or readers engaging with this world for the first time through the story. Ultimately, however, I think the stories didn't feel fully cohesive to me and I found that while the symbolism was gorgeous, it felt a bit heavy handed and overexplained at times. Overall a solid read. If you are thinking of picking it up, consider this your sign to do so!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Anny Barros

    The Memory Librarian by Janelle Monáe & Alaya Dawn Johnson - 4.5/5 Nevermind by Janelle Monáe & Danny Lore - 5/5 Timebox by Janelle Monáe & Eve L. Ewing - 4/5 Save Changes by Janelle Monáe & Yohanca Delgado - 5/5 Timebox Altar(ed) by Janelle Monáe & Sheree Renée Thomas - 4/5 Janelle Monáe releasing a book collection of short stories telling more of the IN-CRE-DI-BLE universe she created with one of THEE best visual albums of all time (Dirty Computer my dearly beloved 💖)

  9. 5 out of 5

    jo ♡

    UM HELLO I DIDN'T KNOW JANELLE MONÁE WAS WRITING A BOOK????? OF QUEER SFF SHORT STORIES????? I NEED THIS IN MY POSSESSION IMMEDIATELY???????? UM HELLO I DIDN'T KNOW JANELLE MONÁE WAS WRITING A BOOK????? OF QUEER SFF SHORT STORIES????? I NEED THIS IN MY POSSESSION IMMEDIATELY????????

  10. 4 out of 5

    Margaret

    I loved this collection of short stories! Expanding on Monáe's setting in her album Dirty Computer, Monáe and a team of collaborators grapple with themes of police states, surveillance society, problematic utopians, and racism, all while presenting ways of maintaining hope and dreaming of a better future. It's a really stunning and thought-provoking collection! I loved this collection of short stories! Expanding on Monáe's setting in her album Dirty Computer, Monáe and a team of collaborators grapple with themes of police states, surveillance society, problematic utopians, and racism, all while presenting ways of maintaining hope and dreaming of a better future. It's a really stunning and thought-provoking collection!

  11. 5 out of 5

    ♡*WithLove, Reesie*♡

    2.5⭐ I wish I liked this more.  It has many aspects of science fiction, romance, mystery, and a plus is the inclusion and focus of the LGBTQI+ community. However, the storytelling and execution fell flat. I think if I read the book vs listening to the audiobook I may have a different response. So I recommend reading the book versus listening. I started wishing the audiobook was abridged. I think the first short story is read by Janelle Monáe The narration sounds stilted, disjointed, computer like. M 2.5⭐ I wish I liked this more.  It has many aspects of science fiction, romance, mystery, and a plus is the inclusion and focus of the LGBTQI+ community. However, the storytelling and execution fell flat. I think if I read the book vs listening to the audiobook I may have a different response. So I recommend reading the book versus listening. I started wishing the audiobook was abridged. I think the first short story is read by Janelle Monáe The narration sounds stilted, disjointed, computer like. Maybe that is what they were aiming for, a technology aspect or feel. However, it was hard to follow as a narrative and I had to look up the book to read passages to see if it was written in verse or poems structure. It is not. I thought I would get used to it, but I didn't, and it made me want to stop the book completely.  I believe Bahni Turpin is the narrator for the remaining stories, and that narration was better. I've listened to their narration before and i'm use to their style. In the first story, I had to work too hard to figure out the workings of this world, it just wasn't fun. Again, this may be because of narration and I may have better time if I read vs listen. The stories have unique components that I like and it is a nice world that was built, however the storytelling seemed either all over the place, omitting information that the writers assumes the reader already knows, or it was aiming for suspenseful mystery but I'm just lost as to what is what or if it is really the end of a story. This book reminded me heavily of Far Sector by N. K. Jemisin. That dealt with emotions; suppressing them, drugs created because of that, an uprising, asylums, etc. And The Memory Librarian deals with the mind and memories; suppressing or removing them and the same consequences occur as in Far Sector. Both novels put the readers in the middle of the story, middle of this new world, and the reader has to play catch up and connect the dots of language, culture, and the rules of the world. I would not listen again. If you're a Janelle Monáe fan, then read it. If you're a scifi fan than maybe read it when you have nothing else to read. I recommend reading the book, and not listening to the audiobook.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Lee (Books With Lee)

    3.5 rounded up 2 stars for the audiobook. I recommended reading the physical book because the first narrator (I believe is the author) just about put me into a slump. The content is great, but I just couldn’t stand how monotone the narration was. I switch to the physical book too late, but when I did I enjoyed it a lot more. I’m a lover of all things sci-fi Afro-futuristic and this book delivered. I enjoyed some stories more than others, but overall I thought they were all pretty good. Definitel 3.5 rounded up 2 stars for the audiobook. I recommended reading the physical book because the first narrator (I believe is the author) just about put me into a slump. The content is great, but I just couldn’t stand how monotone the narration was. I switch to the physical book too late, but when I did I enjoyed it a lot more. I’m a lover of all things sci-fi Afro-futuristic and this book delivered. I enjoyed some stories more than others, but overall I thought they were all pretty good. Definitely gave me Black mirror vibes which I love! The only thing that I don’t like was some stories went on too long and others felt incomplete. Otherwise, great book with some great queer representation. Will have to pick up the physical book again in the future to maybe have a different experience

  13. 5 out of 5

    Lauren Stoolfire

    Janelle Monáe is so talented. Now I need to relisten to her Dirty Computer album and emotion picture asap.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jordan

    I'm a fan of Monae and her whole vibe, and I've appreciated the work of hers that I've seen. That said, I'm not as intimately familiar with the "worldbuilding" that she's been doing with her music as some others seem to be so I started to get a little bit worried about how much of this I was going to grok or enjoy. Well, my worries were unfounded because this was a great scifi anthology. There's a VERY distinct and strong voice, which is sometimes hard for first-time authors to accomplish, but I I'm a fan of Monae and her whole vibe, and I've appreciated the work of hers that I've seen. That said, I'm not as intimately familiar with the "worldbuilding" that she's been doing with her music as some others seem to be so I started to get a little bit worried about how much of this I was going to grok or enjoy. Well, my worries were unfounded because this was a great scifi anthology. There's a VERY distinct and strong voice, which is sometimes hard for first-time authors to accomplish, but I suppose Monae has been writing in other mediums for a long time so she's got that under her belt. As with most anthologies, some pieces resonated more with me than others. But overall, I really admire the project of this and felt very emotionally connected to it, despite spending relatively little time with each of the characters that we meet. I do think that the writing and concepts were well-suited for an anthology like this, rather than something more long-form, so that was a well reasoned choice. I'm sure it will be even more poignant for those that are deeper into Monae's canon than I am, but even with my very basic knowledge, I still loved the storytelling and worldbuilding here. The one big thing I would change is that I would have loved to get an author's note or information about how the collaborators contributed to the volume. But the themes of identity and resistance and freedom and community building were right up my alley and I would strongly recommend this.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Geonn Cannon

    I love Janelle Monáe. I think she's a great musician and actor (I actually like her better as an actor, but she's definitely strong in both areas). I was ready to believe "hey, maybe she's a writer, too!" But this is another example of a celebrity putting their name on a cover and then all the stories within having a cowriter who I'm sure did ninety percent of the work (Janelle IS given sole credit for one very short installment, which *is* well written). None of that really has anything to do w I love Janelle Monáe. I think she's a great musician and actor (I actually like her better as an actor, but she's definitely strong in both areas). I was ready to believe "hey, maybe she's a writer, too!" But this is another example of a celebrity putting their name on a cover and then all the stories within having a cowriter who I'm sure did ninety percent of the work (Janelle IS given sole credit for one very short installment, which *is* well written). None of that really has anything to do with the content of the book, which is good. I just get annoyed by the whole co-author thing. I don't think this is a James Patterson situation (where the person getting the credit just came up with the idea and let someone else do all the heavy lifting) but I do think Alaya Dawn Johnson, Danny Lore, Eve L. Ewing, Yohanca Delgado, and Sheree Renée Thomas deserve more credit than Janelle is given. I also think I've mentioned disliking Bahni Turpin's narration before, and she hasn't gotten better. She tends to rush through things, keeping a steady tone with no regard for the situation or emotion that might be in dialogue. It's not bad, per se, but it does affect my overall enjoyment of the story.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Kara Babcock

    When I heard Janelle Monáe had a book coming out, of course I was going to read it! My public library even had a copy right away. The Memory Librarian is an anthology of science-fiction stories set in the world Monáe created for her Dirty Computer album and emotion picture. Jane 57821, the protagonist from those pieces, returns in one novelette (Nevermind). Other stories explore more corners of this world in which memories have been weaponized in white supremacy’s war to maintain its grip on our When I heard Janelle Monáe had a book coming out, of course I was going to read it! My public library even had a copy right away. The Memory Librarian is an anthology of science-fiction stories set in the world Monáe created for her Dirty Computer album and emotion picture. Jane 57821, the protagonist from those pieces, returns in one novelette (Nevermind). Other stories explore more corners of this world in which memories have been weaponized in white supremacy’s war to maintain its grip on our society. I cracked open this book on one of our first sunny days of spring on my deck. The first story, also called The Memory Librarian, is one of the longest. It follows Seshet, who is essentially a collaborator: she is the Director-Librarian for a town called Little Delta. She has risen to a position of great responsibility in a racist organization, New Dawn, that has acquired great power and convinced people they should surrender “unclean” thoughts or be branded “dirty computers” and taken in for cleaning. In this story, Monáe continues to explore some of the ideas of conformity that she brings up in her album. This novella was fascinating for the romance that Seshet embarks on and the conflict of interest that lies at the heart of the story. I also really enjoyed the next story, Nevermind, for its commentary on gender identity and roles. Though Jane 57821 is one protagonist, the story actually revolves around a friend, Neer, who is a non-binary woman. Another member of the Pynk Hotel community objects to the presence of people like Neer; she believes that Neer and others dilute the definition of womanhood to the point where the hotel might open itself up as a space to (gasp) men. This is such a powerful story—Monáe, of course, recently came out as non-binary, and this (and all the other stories) display a nuanced grasp of the gender identity issues rocking our society today. (It’s worth noting that the co-author of this story, Danny Lore, is non-binary as well.) This is the one of the types of queer stories I think we need more of. So many of our queer stories focus on things like coming out, but I want to read about the messiness within queer communities. I feel like Monáe and Lore are channelling Audre Lorde in this story, the way they interrogate how members of marginalized communities will further marginalize one another. “Timebox” was an intriguing story, but I confess I don’t get the ending. (I’m not sure if I am just missing something, but my understanding of how the timebox dilates time for the user means that what happens at the end … doesn’t matter? I feel like I’m missing something.) Nevertheless, the theme is a good one. I am all on board with questioning how we use our time under our capitalist system. The other stories I could take or leave. That’s not to say that they weren’t good, but I just wasn’t as enraptured with them as I was with the ones I have highlighted. Overall, though, The Memory Librarian is a great collection, and I just love its whole vibe. From the talented Black and Latinx and queer writers Monáe chose to collaborate with all the way to the way that the stories interrogate the intersections of Blackness and queerness in a near-future society that highlights our own society’s shortcomings … yes. Just yes. This is a book that really exemplifies what science fiction can be: painful and beautiful and inspirational and hopeful, all at once and in various times. Originally posted on Kara.Reviews, where you can easily browse all my reviews and subscribe to my newsletter.

  17. 4 out of 5

    cat

    READ THIS! Especially if you loved the Dirty Computer album, but really, even if you didn't. READ THIS! Especially if you loved the Dirty Computer album, but really, even if you didn't.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jeremiah

    This collection of short stories is not too be missed. Science fiction and social commentary that will break your heart and remind you to hope.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Gabbi Levy

    Thank you to Harper Voyager for providing me an ARC copy of The Memory Librarian. How to even begin to describe the sui generis Janelle Monáe? A true multi-hyphenate, I can’t think of another, in this time or before, who has combined such a brilliant, fully-realized, multifaceted and original vision with talent across genre and medium the way Monáe has with the world she has created, first with her Cindi Mayweather alter ego in Metropolis: The Chase (2007), The ArchAndroid (2010) and The Electri Thank you to Harper Voyager for providing me an ARC copy of The Memory Librarian. How to even begin to describe the sui generis Janelle Monáe? A true multi-hyphenate, I can’t think of another, in this time or before, who has combined such a brilliant, fully-realized, multifaceted and original vision with talent across genre and medium the way Monáe has with the world she has created, first with her Cindi Mayweather alter ego in Metropolis: The Chase (2007), The ArchAndroid (2010) and The Electric Lady (2013), and expanding with Dirty Computer in 2018. Now, she teams up with several brilliant collaborators to explore printed fiction with The Memory Librarian: And Other Stories From Dirty Computer. It will come as no surprise then that The Memory Librarian is as beautiful, provocative, queer, sexy, and brilliant as her albums. Like her music, The Memory Librarian explores themes of gender and sexuality, racism and sexism, technology and authoritarianism. That is to say: the modern human condition. I don’t typically read short stories. As a style, I don’t often find they give me enough space with the characters and plot to feel satisfied. But in this case, the stories were vignettes from a richly imagined near-future world, in which the nefarious New Dawn has created a society where anyone who deviates from the norm (queer and Black people are the focus of the stories in The Memory Librarian, but the implication is that this involves not just race, gender and sexuality, but presumably politics and religion as well) are designated dirty computers and must be “cleaned” — have their memories wiped — to be allowed to participate in polite society. Otherwise, they are simply made to disappear. Those who are familiar with her oeuvre will recognize the world Monáe has built here. The short film, Dirty Computer, released alongside the album and encompassing the albums’ music videos strung together within the story of Jane 57821, a dirty computer taken by New Dawn to have have her memories erased, exists in this same world. Monáe writes of people on the margins: those who fight from inside the system, those who suffer because they find themselves on the wrong side of society’s lines, those who escape and rebel from the system entirely. The technologies aren’t so far fetched as to really read as sci-fi: with a few more medical and scientific advances, we could live in a world where Big Brother not only monitors us all with drones and bioimplants, but divides and subjugates through memory and personality manipulation. And the sins that make New Dawn deem someone dirty? Certainly one only has to look to some current events (mostly in Texas, because of course, Texas) to see the seeds of the persecution and elimination of “undesirables” described in The Memory Librarian sprouting up in present-day America. And yet, The Memory Librarian feels resolutely hopeful. Its stories tell of people who find their communities, love, freedom, and hope, even in the face of an enemy whose foundational belief is that they should not be allowed to exist. The enemy has seemingly already won. And yet the dirty computers in the The Memory Librarian refuse to give up who they are, and are willing to fight, for themselves and each other, to live in a pluralistic, welcoming community. That’s indeed a future we can all aspire to.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Rambling Raconteur

    "Ain't just about prospering, it's about progressing, connecting, tappin' into something larger than yourself, so you can really see. Can't build nothing if you can't feel nothing. Community comes from feeling and feeling comes hand in hand with creation." Having been a longtime fan of Janelle Monáe’s music and the Dirty Computer emotion picture, I was very excited to pick up a copy of their debut The Memory Librarian: and other Stories of Dirty Computer. These five stories possess all the streng "Ain't just about prospering, it's about progressing, connecting, tappin' into something larger than yourself, so you can really see. Can't build nothing if you can't feel nothing. Community comes from feeling and feeling comes hand in hand with creation." Having been a longtime fan of Janelle Monáe’s music and the Dirty Computer emotion picture, I was very excited to pick up a copy of their debut The Memory Librarian: and other Stories of Dirty Computer. These five stories possess all the strengths of dystopican literature: interrogating society and extending singular aspects of society to explore how the extension becoming a norm would affect our relationships, lives, and identities. Monáe and their collaborators are also intentional in centering the stories in identity: racial, gender, and relational with many of the narrators being queer, Black women. These perspectives yield deeper questions and real joy as they develop the concept of resisting a dystopia through love, art, and community. A few of the stories fuse hte pace of a thriller with the unique world Monáe created in Dirty Computer, but there is a deep sense of hope at the end of the collection: "Everything comes full circle. And time takes care of itself. Our work is the work of the living, of the present. The right now builds tomorrow." While my initial impression of these stories drew on works like We, Kallocain, and Nineteen Eighty-Four, the fusion of identity brought Samuel R. Delany, Octavia E. Butler, and Nalo Hopkinson to mind. The "science" of these science fictions, and its concern with memory and control recalled Primo Levi's Natural Histories and Murakami's surreal works like Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World or Kafka on the Shore. Monáe’s concept of individuals creating organic, thriving community ultimately may be the best answer I've yet read to Theodore Sturgeon's Homo Gestalt in "Baby Is Three" and More than Human. While the stories are set in the same world as Dirty Computer, one does not need to be familiar with either the music or the emotion picture to understand and enjoy these. I certainly hope there are more stories to come! Monáe’s collaborators are: Alaya Dawn Johnson, Danne Lore, Eve L. Ewing, Yohanca Delgado, and Sheree Renée Thomas. My video discussion: https://youtu.be/TSmQwRZ6uoo

  21. 4 out of 5

    Denny

    While the world, concepts, and characters are each intriguing on their own, the writing style left much to be desired. Many stories felt as though they dragged on forever or ended too soon. The characters lacked a three-dimensional feel and dialogue felt forced or overdramatized. Explanation of the world mechanics, hierarchy, character descriptions and backstories, and scenery/imagery all were severely lacking. I appreciate Monáe's imagination and gumption in taking on a new medium! And I did en While the world, concepts, and characters are each intriguing on their own, the writing style left much to be desired. Many stories felt as though they dragged on forever or ended too soon. The characters lacked a three-dimensional feel and dialogue felt forced or overdramatized. Explanation of the world mechanics, hierarchy, character descriptions and backstories, and scenery/imagery all were severely lacking. I appreciate Monáe's imagination and gumption in taking on a new medium! And I did enjoy the overlaps between the Dirty Computer album and these short stories. In conclusion, I would definitely recommend the album as a must listen, but The Memory Librarian...not so much.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Alex

    It was really good! Some of the stories were really gripping and immediately sucked me and there were a few it took me a moment. All of them ended in a way that had me gripping the book like...where is this going?! (In a good way) I hope we can get more short stories like this in the future.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jess

    The stories get better as the book goes on (imo), and everything is taking place in the same world, so it's fun to get to know it better through different stories - a lot about state/gov control and expression and queerness and subverting/surviving - super recommend! The stories get better as the book goes on (imo), and everything is taking place in the same world, so it's fun to get to know it better through different stories - a lot about state/gov control and expression and queerness and subverting/surviving - super recommend!

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer Bradshaw

    All the stories were great but my favorite stories were "Nevermind" by Janelle Monáe and Alaya Dawn Johnson and "Timebox Altar[ed]" by Janelle Monáe and Sheree Renée Thomas. All the stories were great but my favorite stories were "Nevermind" by Janelle Monáe and Alaya Dawn Johnson and "Timebox Altar[ed]" by Janelle Monáe and Sheree Renée Thomas.

  25. 5 out of 5

    USOM

    (Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.) The Memory Librarian takes place in a high tech world. Monáe crafts a world that is not only full of technology, but also retains societal issues of racism and homophobia. Yes they look different in the future - this surveillance society - but this is no utopia. The Memory Librarian has one of those world building ideas that will stick with you even after finishing. While it has e (Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.) The Memory Librarian takes place in a high tech world. Monáe crafts a world that is not only full of technology, but also retains societal issues of racism and homophobia. Yes they look different in the future - this surveillance society - but this is no utopia. The Memory Librarian has one of those world building ideas that will stick with you even after finishing. While it has elements SF fans might have seen before - like a surveillance society, the power of memories, and illusion of control - it combines into an immersive and unique world. full review: https://utopia-state-of-mind.com/revi...

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jeanette

    I would highly recommend watching the 45 minute Dirty Computer [emotion picture] before starting this book. Since it is a short story format and not a novel, you need some of the world building from this video. The stories rely on the same world and some of the concepts of the album however they would all fit on their own within other short story collections. All of the stories had interesting questions, characters and diversity that was natural to the story. The themes of family and found family, I would highly recommend watching the 45 minute Dirty Computer [emotion picture] before starting this book. Since it is a short story format and not a novel, you need some of the world building from this video. The stories rely on the same world and some of the concepts of the album however they would all fit on their own within other short story collections. All of the stories had interesting questions, characters and diversity that was natural to the story. The themes of family and found family, independence and finding your own identity were strong. Definitely recommend, especially for those that don't read a lot of speculative fiction or sci-fi. As it will have a story for everyone. Note: Received as an advance copy from publisher partner.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Arturo Serrano

    I reviewed this book for the blog Nerds of a Feather: http://www.nerds-feather.com/2022/05/... I reviewed this book for the blog Nerds of a Feather: http://www.nerds-feather.com/2022/05/...

  28. 4 out of 5

    Benita

    Wanted to love this book but instead found myself really like 2 out of 5 with an overwhelming “okkkayy” for the other 3. I appreciate afro-futurism but really I recognize it’s just not my thing. Monae and friends did an excellent job capturing the essence of the Dirty Computer album in book form. As a matter of fact the world building and characters of the first story were really well developed and written. There were some power points but to be missed , unfortunately they get a little mixed up Wanted to love this book but instead found myself really like 2 out of 5 with an overwhelming “okkkayy” for the other 3. I appreciate afro-futurism but really I recognize it’s just not my thing. Monae and friends did an excellent job capturing the essence of the Dirty Computer album in book form. As a matter of fact the world building and characters of the first story were really well developed and written. There were some power points but to be missed , unfortunately they get a little mixed up and muddled by the unfamiliar and poor described future being painted.

  29. 5 out of 5

    audri ☮️❤️☮️❤️

    thought i hated sci-fi, turns out i just hate that it’s dominated by cis/het/white/men. THIS ROCKED!!!!!!! MORE QUEER/POC/WOMEN IN SCI-FI!!!!!!!!!!!

  30. 4 out of 5

    Matthew

    DNF. Skimmed half, and just can't. I love Monáe, but I super dislike short stories and these 5 feel like they were written by my middle schoolers -- too random and day-to-day, trying to wrap it up in a metaphor. Their thoughts work so much better in condensed, beautiful lyrics and "emotion videos." DNF. Skimmed half, and just can't. I love Monáe, but I super dislike short stories and these 5 feel like they were written by my middle schoolers -- too random and day-to-day, trying to wrap it up in a metaphor. Their thoughts work so much better in condensed, beautiful lyrics and "emotion videos."

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