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A profile photo of Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah. He is standing outside, with a snow covered landscape behind him, looking off to the left of the photo.

Daily Helping for March 26th, 2023 – Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah – The Era

The Era by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah is a short story set in a future where people are optimized to be perfect before birth and honesty is prized above all else. Even at the expense of emotions, feelings, or politeness. Ben, the unoptimized narrator, has become so dependent on his daily injections of Good to function, it has become an addiction. And yes, you have read that right. The Era is a story with brilliantly blunt language. People are injected with Good. Social Studies classes are called HowItWas classes. And society has arrived at this point after the Big Quick War and the Long Big War. Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah is a genius wordsmith.

He’s also a genius in his ability to construct a world that is simultaneously both incredibly foreign and terrifyingly real. The society of The Era is not one that I would like to live in. And yet, as I read it, I couldn’t help but get the sneaking suspicion that we may already be there. Not quite so literally of course. But perhaps the best way to describe it is that The Era is holding up a funhouse mirror to our world. The reflection may be grotesquely distorted, but that distortion has its foundations in reality. It’s a horrifying thought. But definitely one worth thinking about.

Suggestions for artists I should check out? Please contact me with your ideas. I hope you enjoyed your daily helping of art!