The Lesson by Cadwell Turnbull
An alien ship rests over Water Island. For five years the people of the US Virgin Islands have lived with the Ynaa, a race of superadvanced aliens on a research mission they will not fully disclose. They are benevolent in many ways but meet any act of aggression with disproportional wrath. This has led to a strained relationship between the Ynaa and the local Virgin Islanders and a peace that cannot last.
A year after the death of a young boy at the hands of an Ynaa, three families find themselves at the center of the inevitable conflict, witnesses and victims to events that will touch everyone and teach a terrible lesson.
“An excellent read. It explores the history of the Caribbean Islands in the context of European colonization, along with current events in which communities of color are confronted with overwhelming forces that deal out harsh punishments. It’s a thought-provoking and interesting story, one that I’m still thinking about.” —The Verge
“Bring[s] to mind the urgent and vibrant writing of Octavia Butler…From beginning to end, The Lesson is thrilling, moving and thought-provoking. This may be Turnbull’s debut, but it reads like the work of a seasoned writer. It’s also proof that science fiction is more than entertaining—it’s a vital genre that lays bare the perils of the age and the boundlessness of the human spirit. —Shelf Awareness
“Turnbull artfully incorporates the history of slavery and colonialism on the US Virgin Islands into the story, imagining that history’s legacy on a future in which it’s hard to differentiate between the cruel nature of man and alien. The Lesson is an impressive first book that takes a classic science fiction archetype and makes it feel new.” —Booklist
“Mr. Turnbull, who has been compared to Emily St. John and Octavia Butler, is considered one of science fiction’s most exciting young talents.” —Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
“If Frantz Fanon had written War of the Worlds, he might have produced something like Cadwell Turnbull’s The Lesson…Turnbull shows with heartbreaking clarity that even when fundamentally different individuals are able to find an essential humanity in each other, the nature of colonialism destroys both the colonizer and the colonized.” —The Rumpus
Cadwell Turnbull is the author of The Lesson and No Gods, No Monsters. He is a graduate of North Carolina State University’s creative writing MFA in fiction and English and MA in linguistics. Turnbull is also a graduate of Clarion West 2016. His short fiction has appeared in The Verge, Lightspeed, Nightmare, and Asimov’s Science Fiction and a number of anthologies, including The Dystopia Triptych and Twelve Entanglements. His Nightmare story “Loneliness Is in Your Blood” was selected for The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2018. His Lightspeed story “Jump” was selected for The Year’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy 2019 and was featured on LeVar Burton Reads. The Lesson was the winner of the 2020 Neukom Institute Literary Award in the debut category and was shortlisted for the VCU Cabell Award and longlisted for the Massachusetts Book Award. No Gods, No Monsters is the winner of the Lambda Literary Award for Best LGBTQ Speculative Fiction, is a current finalist for the Locus Award for Best Fantasy Novel, and was longlisted for the PEN Open Book Award. Turnbull grew up in the US Virgin Islands and currently lives in Raleigh where he teaches creative writing at North Carolina State University.
Janina Edwards, an Earphones Award–winning narrator, is a native of Chicago and a graduate of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts acting program. Her 2016 performance of Voice of Freedom was a finalist for the Audie Award.
Ron Butler is a Los Angeles–based actor, Earphones Award–winning audiobook narrator, and voice artist with over a hundred film and television credits. Most kids will recognize him from the three seasons he spent on Nickelodeon’s True Jackson, VP. He works regularly as a commercial and animation voice-over artist and has voiced a wide variety of audiobooks. He is a member of the Atlantic Theater Company and an Independent Filmmaker Project Award winner for his work in the HBO film Everyday People.