Denise Crittendon, "Where it Rains in Color" (Angry Robot, 2022)


Denise Crittendon’s debut science fiction novel,Where it Rains in Color (Angry Robot, 2022), is set far in the future, long after the Earth has been destroyed, on the planet of Swazembi. Swazembi is a color-rich utopia and famous vacation center of the Milky Way. No one is used to serious trouble in this idyllic, peace-loving world, least of all the Rare Indigo. But Lileala’s perfect, pampered lifestyle is about to be shattered.

Published on the cusp of Crittendon’s 70th birthday, the novel’s creation was decades in the making. Ideas were jotted down and relegated to a drawer while her work as a journalist and ghostwriter took front seat. Inspiration was gathered from her time in Zimbabwe and a recurring dream she had over many years.

“The dream influenced the novel a great deal,” says Crittendon. “The novel was kind of built around the dream. When I finally started writing it again, then the dreams came back. And then I stopped and the dreams went away. When I finally got a chance to do that final push, I never had a dream again.”

That experience layers an almost metaphysical presence to a story that already includes a different kind of worldbuilding from what we normally see in science fiction. From Swazembi’s galaxy-renowned wind-force public transit system and nuanced cultural greeting of “waves of joy” to the noted lack of violence throughout, the novel offers a fresh perspective on what sci fi can be.

Before making the big leap into the world of sci-fi & fantasy, Denise Crittendon held a string of journalism jobs. In addition to being a staff writer for The Detroit News and The Kansas City Star, she was editor-in-chief of the NAACP’s national magazine, The Crisis. Later, she became founding editor of a Michigan-based lifestyle publication for black families. After self-publishing two manuals that empower youth, “Girl in the Mirror, A Teen’s Guide to Self-Awareness” and “Life is a Party That Comes with Exams,” she entered the new-age healing movement as a motivational speaker for teens. These days, she fulfills ghostwriting assignments for clients and writes speculative fiction on the side. She divides her time between Spring Valley, Nevada and her hometown, Detroit, Mich.

Brenda Noiseux and Rob Wolf are co-hosts of New Books in Science Fiction.

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