Black MirrormeetsGet Outin this gripping story collection reminiscent of the work of Octavia E. Butler, which deftly blends science fiction, horror, and fantasy to examine issues of race, class, and prejudice—an electrifying, oftentimes heartbreaking debut from an extraordinary new voice.
Justin C. Key has long been obsessed with monsters. Reading R. L. Stine’s Goosebumps as a kid, he imagined himself battling monsters and mayhem to a triumphant end. But when watchingScream 2, in which the movie’s only Black couple is promptly killed off, he realized that the Black and Brown characters in his favorite genre were almost always the victim or villain—if they were portrayed at all.
InThe World Wasn’t Ready for You, Key expands and subverts the horror genre to expertly explore issues of race, class, prejudice, love, exclusion, loneliness, and what it means to be a person in the world, while revealing the horrifying nature inherent in all of us. In the opening story, “The Perfection of Theresa Watkins,” a sci-fi love story turned nightmare, a husband uses new technology to download the consciousness of his recently deceased Black wife into the body of a white woman. In “Spider King,” an inmate agrees to participate in an experimental medical study offered to Black prisoners in exchange for early release, only to find his body reacting with disturbing symptoms. And in the title story, a father tries to protect his son, teaching him how to navigate a prejudiced world that does not understand him and sees him as a threat.
The World Wasn’t Ready for Youis a gripping, provocative, and distinctly original collection that demonstrates Key’s remarkable literary gifts—a skill at crafting science fiction stories equaled by an ability to sculpt characters and narrative—as well as his utterly fresh take on how genre can be used to delight, awe, frighten, and ultimately challenge our perceptions. Wildly imaginative and powerfully resonant, it introduces an unforgettable new voice in fiction.