Feminist, sci-fi, queer friendly, post-apocalyptic, Portuguese, afro-Latino revolution music. That’s what The Summer Prince is. It is what you’ve always wanted to be printed, what you’ve been waiting for, but just didn’t know it.
Alaya Dawn Johnson weaves a tale set 400 years after the apocalypse in a floating glass pyramid on the shores of what was once known as Brazil. In this matriarchal society (yes, I said, a city ruled by a Queen and her sentry of Aunties) a strange custom has evolved where each moon year and sun year a Prince is crowned from among the wakas (citizens under 30. With advanced technology, death has been almost eliminated as people age well into their second century) only to shine brightly until the end of winter where he’ll be sacrificed and choose the new queen with his final dying act.
June is our heroine and she is “the best artist in Palmarez Tres.” When her best friend Gil and she both ogle over the newly elected Summer Prince, no one is shocked more than she is when Enki chooses Gil to be his consort at the very first inaugural dance. (You caught that right. I said the PRINCE chose, GIL, a boy to be his consort). Raised in the verde, the bottom tier of the pyramid and dark as night, Enki gives the Aunties a little more than they bargained for with his revolutionary leanings, leanings that June is all to happy to attach herself to as she tries to make a name for herself as an artist. What follows is a tale of revolution, the pain of accepting love and the joy of accepting death, and there is plenty of data streaming, spider bot, technological body modifcation to satisfy any sci-fi lover.
Our characters are honey-colored, sandy brown and almost blue black. The language is Portuguese but we’re reading it in English, our food is spicy and the lines of sexuality are so blurred they either no longer matter or no longer exist. Technology is running rampant to the point where a soul can be downloaded and the body left behind. The New World Order has left many of our issue behind, but the struggle for power still holds true and the battle between young and old, rich and poor, still exist.
This is a must read, a MUST read.
Newly endowed with power I’ve recommended the title to be considered for the Georgia Peach Award List for 2014-2015. This is where a call for diversity starts working to lift good titles to the forefront. Diversity advocates have to sit on the boards that recommend titles for recognition, they have to write reviews and they have to constantly push the books with characters of color, with characters who are LGBT, with characters who are other than affluent, suburban, straight and blonde.