N. K. Jemisin has faced down a racist backlash to her success in the science-fiction community. But white supremacy in the genre is nothing new, she tells Raffi Khatchadourian. Her recent novel “The City We Became” explicitly addresses the legacy of the genre pioneer H. P. Lovecraft, whose racism was virulent even by the standards of the early twentieth century. It’s not possible, Jemisin says, to separate Lovecraft’s ideology from his greatness as a fantasy writer: his view of nonwhite peoples as monstrous informed the way he wrote about monsters. Rather than try to ignore or cancel Lovecraft, Jemisin felt compelled to engage with him. Plus, the historian and staff writer Jill Lepore describes the desperate measures taken to protect children from polio during a pandemic no less frightening than our own, and how the disease was then forgotten.