Heroes of an Unknown World

Ayize Jama-Everett  - published February 2023

trade paper · 320 pages · $17 · 9781618731975 | ebook · 9781618731982 | Edelweiss | Trailer

In the final Liminal novel, a found family of Black superheroes has one last chance to save the world.

The Liminal People · The Entropy of Bones · The Liminal War · Heroes of an Unknown World

New: Locus interview · City Lights event

After traveling back in time to rescue his fostered daughter, Taggert has returned to the present and found himself in his favorite place: up against the wall. But the world they’ve returned to is not the one they left: everything is slightly grayer, the music is boring, joy is just out of reach. The liminals’ entropic enemies, the Alters, are trying to bring about the end of the world by sucking the life — literally — out of enough people to tip the balance their way.

Traveling from Jamaica to London to Indonesia to the heart of the whirlwind in the desert at the heart of all deserts, Taggert and his found family of liminals and supporters have to find a way to bring back the joy before they’re all ground down into the gray dust.


4/26/23 Reading at Mysterious Galaxy for The Last Count of Monte Cristo, San Diego, CA
5/3/23 Reading at Pulp Fiction Comics for The Last Count of Monte Cristo, Culver City, CA

Reviews & Advance Praise

“A prescient examination of issues pressing hard upon our actual reality, Heroes of an Unknown World is a necessary addition to the genre and will be devoured and adored by the most hardcore of readers.”
— Sal A. Joyce, Booklist

“The Liminal Books deserve a place on the bookshelf alongside ambitious fantasy series like Marlon James’s Dark Star Trilogy and N. K. Jemisin’s Broken Earth Trilogy. Big, ambitious, wildly inventive and full of heart. Heroes of an Unknown World displays the voice and verve that are staples of Ayize Jama-Everett’s work. Dive in, you will love what you discover.”
—Victor LaValle, author of The Changeling

“Ayize Jama-Everett is a towering talent and one of the best genre-writers working today. His final installment of his masterfully told Liminal Series; Heroes of an Unknown World is a taut, textured feast for the minds of any ravenous reader who’s looking for something fresh and exciting to experience.”
— John Jennings

“A rollicking, irreverent action sci-fi filled with anime-esque feats, a deep appreciation for culture, and sparkling humanity. Jama-Everett’s final book in the Liminal series is the kind of grandiose battle against despair I’ll gladly sign up for. Put on your favorite record, crack this one open, and tell the darkness: ‘Fuck off!’”
— Elwin Cotman

“Therapist and theologian Jama-Everett takes his group of Black superheroes from 1970s London to contemporary Morocco in the fascinating and action-packed final Liminal novel (after The Liminal War). Liminals possess supernatural powers, among them central figure Taggert’s ability to manipulate DNA to harm and heal; his adopted daughter Prentis’s empathy with animals; and wind spirit A.C.’s power over the elements. Taggert and his seven major allies must finally defeat the beautiful but monstrous Alters, who work to drive all of humanity to lemming-like suicide by creating a physically and spiritually depressed new world. In breathlessly paced adventures told from ever-shifting perspectives, Jama-Everett celebrates the power of family, community, and music to unite peoples and combat entropy, using dramatic flashbacks to illustrate the salvific power of self-sacrifice for a greater good. His fictionalization of the role psychedelics (here “manna,” the food of the gods) can play in mental health and clear conviction that writing can heal those whom mainstream culture has ignored add depth to the rip-roaring action. Series fans and new readers alike are sure to be drawn in.” — Publishers Weekly

Praise for Ayize Jama-Everett’s Liminal Novels

“In Ayize Jama-Everett’s The Liminal War, the family one chooses is just as important as the one a person is born into.” — Nancy Hightower, Washington Post

“A vitality to the voice and a weirdness that, while not always controlled or intentional, is highly appealing for just that reason.” — Charles Yu, New York Times Book Review

“Chabi breaks the mold for superheroes in more ways than one.” —Leilani Clark, KQED

“Rooted in Chabi’s voice, the story is spare, fierce, and rich, and readers will care just as much about the delicate, damaged relationship between Chabi and her mother as the threat of world destruction.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“A fun and fast-paced thriller. Recommended for: Mutants, misfits, anyone who’s ever felt partway between one thing and another.” —The Ladies of Comicazi

“You’ll be sucked into a fast-paced story about superpowered people struggling for control of the underground cultures they inhabit…. The novel is a damn good read. It’s a smart actioner that will entertain you while also enticing you to think about matters beyond the physical realm.” —Annalee Newitz, io9

“A great piece of genre fiction. But picking which genre to place it in isn’t easy. The first in a planned series, it’s got the twists and taut pacing of a thriller, the world-warping expansiveness of a fantasy yarn, and even the love-as-redemption arc of a romance. Oh yeah, a lot of the characters in it have superhuman powers, too.”—The Rumpus

“The action sequences are smartly orchestrated, but it is Taggert’s quest to retrieve his own soul that gives The Liminal People its oomph. Jama-Everett has done a stellar job of creating a setup that promises even greater rewards in future volumes.” —San Francisco Chronicle

“The story’s setup . . .  takes next to no time to relate in Jama-Everett’s brisk prose. With flat-voiced, sharp-edged humor reminiscent of the razors his fellow thugs wear around their necks, Taggert claims to read bodies ‘the way pretentious East Coast Americans read The New Yorker … I’ve got skills,’ he adds. ‘What I don’t have is patience.’” —Nisi Shawl, The Seattle Times

“Every once in awhile, a first novel catches you by surprise. Sometimes it’s the style and sometimes it’s the pure originality or unique mixing of influences. In the case of Ayize Jama-Everett’s The Liminal People, the pleasure comes from all of the above.” —Jeff VanderMeer, Omnivoracious

“Razor. Plush. Fast.” — Tân, City Lights Books

“Ayize Jama-Everett has brewed a voodoo cauldron of Sci-Fi, Romance, Crime, and Superhero Comic, to provide us with a true gestalt of understanding, offering us both a new definition of “family” and a world view on the universality of human conduct. The Liminal People—as obviously intended—will draw different reactions from different readers. But none of them will stop reading until its cataclysmic ending.” —Andrew Vachss

“Ayize’s imagination will mess with yours, and the world won’t ever look quite the same again.” —Nalo Hopkinson

The Liminal People has the pleasures of classic sf while being astonishingly contemporary and savvy.” —Maureen F. McHugh


2/15/23 Sistah Sci-Fi podcast
2/16/23, 6:30 p.m. City Lights, 261 Columbus Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94133
2/17/23, 2:30 p.m. Online panel with 2022 NBA finalist Allison Adelle Hedge Coke (Look at This Blue) and Jan Beatty (American Bastard: A Memoir) UC Riverside Writers Week

About the Author

Ayize Jama-Everett (ayizejamaeverett.com) was born in Harlem, New York. He has traveled extensively in Northern Africa, Northern California, and Oaxaca, Mexico. He holds three Master’s degrees (Divinity, Psychology, and Creative Writing), and has worked as a bookseller, professor, and therapist. He has a firm desire to create stories that people want to read. He believes the narratives of our times dictate future realities; he’s invested in working subversive notions like family of choice, striving when not chosen to survive, and irrational optimism into his creations. His four-book Liminal series has been published by Small Beer Press. His graphic novel, The Box of Bones, with noted artist John Jennings was published by Rosarium Publishing. He has a graphic novel adaptation of The Count of Monte Cristo forthcoming from Abrams Press. Shorter works can be found in The Believer, Los Angeles Review of Books, and Racebaitr.