I've kept a list of the authors and titles I've written about over the last five years in order to avoid duplication, but I've finally found an author that really deserves another mention. I first wrote about N. K. Jemisin in 2010: A New Voice in Science Fiction. Over the last five years she has been nominated for several awards for her early novels. She writes fairly short series and each series has an overarching theme. In an interview I read with her, she said the theme of the first series was racism, the second was religion, and the third is about the collapse of civilizations.
Her first trilogy begins with The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms where Yeine Darr, one of the many descendants of the emperor, is summoned to the court and told she is one of three potential heirs. Being the "other", the jumped up barbarian half-breed from the uncivilized hinterlands, her welcome is about as warm as you'd expect. The "civilized" heirs promptly try to assassinate her and it all goes on from there.
The second series, a duology, begins with The Killing Moon. Ehiru is a gatherer who is sent by his church to collect "dreamblood" from the dying and those too corrupt to let live. He's too much of an innocent to realize that he's being used by the less ethical members of his church and that he isn't simply granting a merciful end to the dying and criminals. Once he becomes aware of the corruption, his faith is tested.
The Fifth Season, the first book in her most recent series, has just come out. The world she created is prone to regular extinction level events that are called a “fifth season”. Volcanoes so massive there might be 5 or 10 years of winter from the ash blanketing the sky. Massive earthquakes flattening not just cities but entire regions. Tsunamis wiping out coasts (not towns, entire coasts) every few years. Despite this, humanity survives. "Stonelore" tells what to do and how to make the hard choices so that some of the community might survive until better days come back. Then the ground shakes and the ash starts falling. This time it doesn't stop.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see The Fifth Season make the final ballot for the Hugo award this coming year. She's one of the best new authors in the genre, and I fully expect she'll win a well-deserved award one of these years. Pick the theme that speaks to you and give one of her series a try!