Size / / /
Susie Oh is a Brooklyn-based painter inspired by the mythical and the mystical. Her illustrations and prose can be found at, and you can follow her on Tumblr as nemozero or as amorphophallus_titanum.

She provided art for this week’s story, “The Wreck at Goat's Head” by Alexandra Manglis.

This interview was conducted by email in November 2016.


Tory Hoke: As an illustrator, how did you get where you are today?

Susie Oh: I've always loved drawing and went on to study illustration at Pratt Institute.

© 2012 Susie Oh, "Alchemist"

© 2012 Susie Oh, "Alchemist"

Tory Hoke: Your work combines rounded shapes and soft textures with vibrant patterns and colors. How did you develop this style? What effect would you like your work to have on your viewer?

Susie Oh: I usually place a wash across my surface before I do any sketching. The colors dictate the mood, and then I find the forms. I also love the "flatness" of classical East Asian painting, and the deliberate unreality of European medieval art: the heavily molded, sculptural shapes in skewed planes. I think the disorienting effect, somehow, tells a more psychological truth than a perfect rendering in three-point perspective.


Tory Hoke: Tell me about your Homunculus series. The images are charming and upsetting at the same time. What inspired these?

Susie Oh:
I love Renaissance images of the homunculus: a miniature, fully grown human circulating through the semen or blood. So I use these ageless, genderless, featureless characters to express mental states that I can't articulate in words.

© 2015 Susie Oh, "Knot Undone"

© 2015 Susie Oh, "Knot Undone"


Tory Hoke: You design paper dolls as well—and create animations from them. What is your process like for those? What excites you about them?

Susie Oh:
They're another storytelling medium, and since cutting them out and manipulating them are so much like child's play, I can take them as "art"  less seriously. In that way, the process is more liberating, more fun.


Tory Hoke: What is the art community like where you are?

Susie Oh: New York City is huge, so there are different niches; it's a city that has always drawn artists.


Tory Hoke: What other artists inspire or interest you?

Susie Oh: William Blake and Odilon Redon are lasting inspirations. Right now I'm also drawn to "outsider artists" like Carlo Zinelli and Charles A. A. Dellschau.


Tory Hoke: What would you like to see more of in contemporary F/SF art?

Susie Oh: I'd like to see more writers like Ursula K. Le Guin and Octavia Butler, who have broader worldviews outside of traditional Eurocentric fantasy. I think the genre has definitely become more inclusive of minority voices.


© 2014 Susie Oh, "Secret Garden"

© 2014 Susie Oh, "Secret Garden"

Tory Hoke: What's your dream project?

Susie Oh: I'd love to do a series of illustrations about some visionary or mystical subject, like a biography of an alchemist or an early naturalist.


Tory Hoke: What's next for you?

Susie Oh: I wish I knew! I hope to illustrate more interesting stories!


Tory Hoke: Thank you for your time, Susie! It's been a pleasure.

Susie Oh: Thank you so much!

tory_hoke_50kbTory writes, draws, and codes in Los Angeles. Her fiction has appeared in Strange Horizons, Drabblecast, and PseudoPod, and her art has appeared in Strange Horizons, Apex, and Spellbound. She is art director for Strange Horizons and editor-in-chief of sub-Q, a magazine for interactive fiction. Follow her work at
Current Issue
30 Jan 2023

In January 2022, the reviews department at Strange Horizons, led at the time by Maureen Kincaid Speller, published our first special issue with a focus on SF criticism. We were incredibly proud of this issue, and heartened by how many people seemed to feel, with us, that criticism of the kind we publish was important; that it was creative, transformative, worthwhile. We’d been editing the reviews section for a few years at this point, and the process of putting together this special, and the reception it got, felt like a kind of renewal—a reminder of why we cared so much.
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Some of our reviewers offer recollections of Maureen Kincaid Speller.
Criticism was equally an extension of Maureen’s generosity. She not only made space for the text, listening and responding to its own otherness, but she also made space for her readers. Each review was an invitation, a gift to inquire further, to think more deeply and more sensitively about what it is we do when we read.
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In this special episode of Critical Friends, the Strange Horizons SFF criticism podcast, reviews editors Aisha Subramanian and Dan Hartland introduce audio from a 2018 recording for Jonah Sutton-Morse’s podcast Cabbages and Kings which included Maureen Kincaid Speller discussing with Aisha and Jonah three books: Everfair by Nisi Shawl, Temporary People by Deepak Unnikrishnan, and The Winged Histories by Sofia Samatar.
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