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Publisher's Summary

2020 Audie Award Winner for Best Science Fiction

Audible narration by Jason Isaacs (Star Trek: Discovery)

What will become of our self-destructed planet? The answer shatters all expectations in this subversive speculation from the Hugo Award - winning author of the Broken Earth trilogy.

An explorer returns to gather information from a climate-ravaged Earth that his ancestors, and others among the planet’s finest, fled centuries ago. The mission comes with a warning: A graveyard world awaits him. But so do those left behind - hopeless and unbeautiful wastes of humanity who should have died out ages ago. After all this time, there’s no telling how they’ve devolved. Steel yourself, soldier. Get in. Get out. And try not to stare.

N. K. Jemisin’s Emergency Skin is part of Forward, a collection of six stories of the near and far future from out-of-this-world authors. Each piece can be read or listened to in a single thought-provoking sitting.

©2019 N. K. Jemisin (P)2019 Brilliance Publishing, Inc., all rights reserved.

Critic Reviews

Emergency Skin, by the award(s)-winning Jemisin, is part of a sensational project called Forward, which brings together six writers, each telling a story about Earth’s imagined future.” --Spine Magazine

“Narrator Jason Isaac’s voice is the perfect mix of insistent, pedantic, and scornful…This brief but clever tale is truly best enjoyed on audio.” (AudioFile - Earphones Award Winner)

“The tale is a fascinating experiment in story structure…Thoughtful and interactive.” (LOCUS)

  “This is exactly how I like my techno-anxiety…Happy bingeing!” (Audible, an October Editors Pick)  

What listeners say about Emergency Skin

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NK Jemisin is actually a genius

Everything she writes it’s brilliant—the prose is accessible, yet complex and layered if you are prepared let it take you deeper. So when I saw this short story on audible, there was no question I would add it to my library! Jason Isaacs performs it beautifully, this was a joy to listen to. Will re-listen again for sure, wish I could give it 10 stars!

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Just TERRIBLE. dont be tricked..

Didn't realise it was only 1 hour long. I wasted a credit on this. This is my genre but it was unlistenable. I am an idiot.

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Stunning reading

Great story, unbelievable reading. In the hands of Jason Isaacs I suspect this story is more powerful as an audiobook than as text.

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Profile Image for Jardin Joyner
  • Jardin Joyner
  • 24-09-2019

NK Jemisin is a genius

The prose on this one was interesting, as you never hear the voice of the protagonist. Like always, the author explores the things we take for granted in our society. It's a good intro into the author's work of you're unfamiliar.

10 people found this helpful

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  • Chris
  • 10-04-2020

Try to avoid getting clubbed by the message...

Another short story from the Forward collection. This one has a message that is delivered with all the subtlety of a brick to the side of the head. Rich, white, racist men are bad and if about two dozen of them would just leave Earth the rest of us would magically all come together, play nice and save the world from climate change, nationalism, gender crisis, and overall bad behavior.

9 people found this helpful

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  • omni osi (viral vinyl)
  • 30-09-2019

Blown away!

The amount of inventiveness and detail in this story is staggering. Pride excellence. I want to read the written version because the plot sometimes went too fast for me to catch everything. I will definitely listen to this audiobook again.

9 people found this helpful

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  • Steve T
  • 08-10-2019

Cute. Ignore the racism, sexism, and socialism!

It's a fun concept...our spacefaring protagonist is on a dangerous mission to a long-dead planet to retrieve biological samples critical to the survival of his homeworld. He is accompanied by a voice in his head that provides instructions, warnings, and the prejudices of his home world that are of no use on the world he finds.

This new world is not dead, but thriving! It began to thrive when the white-blond-male overlords fled from the planet they had pillaged, plundered, and raped shortly before they estimated the planet would be dead. Freed from this despicable serfdom, the remaining inhabitants saved their planet by becoming the perfect model citizens of a Utopian communist ideal.

Applause and knowing nods and winks. A story so right for our time!

But wait...if the horrible overlords had been described as female the story would have be loudly shouted down, rightly, as sexist. And if the bad people had not been safely white and blond the story would have been rightly seen as a racist affront to an exploited people. And, unfortunately, the utopian concept of people-helping-people-in-a-perfect-socialist/communist harmony has only ever resulted in larger tyrannies, inequities, and environmental destruction than its horrible capitalist counterparts (review the history of the Soviet Union and China). But it sure sounds great!

Oh, I remember, this is science fiction fun.
Except when it preaches sexism, racism, and the failed, false, and jealous god of communism.

The reader does a good job of navigating a difficult script as the jarring voice-in-the-protagonist's-head becomes more strident and threatening and conflicts with the other voices in the story.

14 people found this helpful

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  • Heather Sanders
  • 05-03-2020

What a grand tale, almost wish it were true!

The author really blew me away with this story. I hate to use another reviewers words bit someone said this book was the smartest story she had ever read and I totally agree. Jason Issacks' narration was wonderful.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Jan
  • 15-02-2020

Excellent!

post-apocalyptic, sci-fi-fantasy, short

Bought on the recommendation of a sci fi fan even though it is not my preference. I found it a brilliant tale of hope for geopolitical mankind and very thankful that it also came as audio.
Jason Isaacs was perfect as narrator!

5 people found this helpful

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  • Annemarie
  • 05-03-2020

Wonderful!

I adore N.K. Jemisin and this is another brilliant tale that catches you from the start. The narration captures the story perfectly.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Anna K
  • 03-03-2020

chuckling all the way

what a fun listen and the narrator was great! this combo would be worth trying again!!

4 people found this helpful

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  • jessica miles
  • 03-12-2019

One you must download!!

loved it!! must get audiobook. highly recommend. Enjoyed this better than any in the series

4 people found this helpful

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  • John Fenton
  • 26-10-2019

Lazy effort from a brilliant writer

N. K. Jemisin is one of my favorite writers, but this was a lazy effort. The concept was clever, and I was drawn in initially. But it quickly turned into a heavy-handed political lecture that was uninteresting, even if you agree with the message.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Diane Severson
  • 26-09-2019

Absurd, subversive, fun

I really, really enjoyed this short story! It’s hilarious. Using absurdity Jemisin illuminates a hopeful attitude of how we could change our world for the better. I listened to the audio book narrated by Jason Isaacs who is nothing short of brilliant.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Maisy Mulgrath
  • 21-09-2020

Incredible

Why have I never heard of this author before? This story was briliant. I didn't know it was possible for someone to write so amazingly. My review of this story can't do it justice because I haven't the author's way with words. I too am obsessed with immortality, but this story delves into what the consequences of eternal life might be, and what such an existence would entail. Should we want for longevity at any cost? And yet the vibe of the author's storytelling is also quirky in a smart clever way. So glad I've found a new favourite author to read! Well, listen to audibooks. And this one being narrated by Jason Isaacs is brill. He's so good at accents it seems he's really born where he's talking from.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Miss P.
  • 16-02-2020

Funny and extremely thought provoking

Really enjoyed this short story. Excellent narrationaw well. Must look out some of their other work.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Frieda
  • 06-04-2021

Fantastic idea.

I did really enjoy this idea and the POV it was told from. The execution and performance by the narrator was fabulous.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Tom D
  • 25-03-2021

told from an interesting perspective

alot of the text is one side of a conversation, which I thought worked very well. enjoyable and interesting short story.

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  • jan winter
  • 28-02-2021

Fascinating concept.

A highly original concept that masks a morality tale. This strange imagination provides a very human hope. I enjoyed it immensely and will seek this author out.

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  • O.O
  • 23-02-2021

How Earth could be.

I enjoyed this story tremendously, and the narrator. Themes include: technological advancement, humanity, survival.

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  • Norma Miles
  • 04-02-2021

"The babble of the rabble."

When earth, mentioned in polution, was no longer able to support it's growing population, the wealthy, the powerful, the 'best of the best', flew away to found new woods and shape them to be better. They left everyone else behind to die. Centuries into the future, a young soldier is sent back to Tellus - their new name for Earth - to try to recover something essential which was fast running out and was known to have been plentiful in that planet. He goes alone in this dangerous task but with an A.I.implant to guide and instruct him - and it is from this 2nd person point of view that we learn the story; the voice of the young soldier himself is never heard.

The writing format is unusual but very effective, if a little clunky at times. The A.I.'s comments and outbursts are often amusing in context and the whole is a clever indictment of present day politics. Narrator Jason Isaacs does an excellent job of providing voice both for the A.I. and for the others encountefed. Well paced and nicely modulated, also, his was a good performance.

A fun, far futuristic short story, which pokes fun at present day circumstances, if a little over hopeful about the furure. Nothing wrong with that: we all need a little more hope in our lives.

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  • R. Bell
  • 16-12-2020

Badly written story, but decent performance

Jason Isaacs performs this beautifully, which is a shame since the story itself is full of old science fiction tropes and a very obvious plot twist. Not to mention the fact that the writer unwittingly displays their own unconscious leanings towards the very things the story claims to be opposing. 5/5 for Isaacs' excellent performance, and 2/5 overall. Isaacs' performance is enjoyable, shame about the story - his talent is wasted here.

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  • Michela
  • 15-12-2020

What if even skin was a luxury?

A great premise for a captivating story about oppression in the name of privilege for the few, and the start of a revolution for a shared abundance. The plot slowly builds up and finally reveals the horrible truth about the protagonist's world and destiny, mostly unbeknownst even to him. The only narrating voices we hear are that of the guiding AI, dictating the best course of action to the soldier on a crucial mission, and that of the local inhabitants of the seemingly hostile planet. Yet, the protagonist's actions and decisions appear even more remarkable and poignant. Great job by the audiobook narrator too.

In the spirit of reconciliation, Audible Australia acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of country throughout Australia and their connections to land, sea and community. We pay our respect to their elders past and present and extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples today.