As much narrative detail as each of Janelle Monáe’s multigenre concept albums are packed with, they’ve all ended having raised more even questions about the larger story being told about time-travelling freedom fighters. There’s still so much that hasn’t been explored about how Cindi Mayweather and Jane 57821’s lives interconnect beyond them both being born from Monáe’s imagination, but that all may be about to change in the wake of the artist’s latest project.
As The Bookseller reports, in The Memory Librarian and Other Stories from the World of Dirty Computer, a new science-fiction anthology from HarperVoyager, Monáe along with other writers will pen a collection of stories set in Dirty Computer’s dystopian future where people’s thoughts and self-expression are strictly policed. According to the publisher, the book picks up after Jane 57821 becomes away of the mind control being used to stifle the world’s organic, android, and AI life, and centre ideas about “queerness, race, gender plurality, and love” as vehicles for liberation.
“As a reader and writer of science fiction since childhood, it is a dream to have the opportunity to expand Dirty Computer into a literary project,” Monáe said of the project in a public statement. “Writers, specifically Black, queer and genderqueer, are at the forefront of pushing the creative boundaries of sci-fi and speculative storytelling. I’m honoured to be collaborating with a new generation of creators as we expand this tale, that began with an album and emotion picture, into a larger world of new and familiar characters.”
Though Dirty Computer’s characters like Jane 57821 and Mary Apple 53 were teased as having some sort of direct connection to figures on Monáe’s earlier albums, the lack of specifics as to how this universe’s time travel works has left it unclear how their stories all interconnect. The Memory Librarian’s expansion on Dirty Computer’s world is likely going to connect at least few of the dots while adding new significance to the albums that have already been released, but the biggest and most obvious question looming over this project, of course, is whether it’s the precursor to new music.
The Memory Librarian and Other Stories from the World of Dirty Computer hits stores on April 19, 2022.