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The first time I encountered Elizabeth Ziemska's fiction was when her short story, "A Murder of Crows," was nominated for the 2007 Shirley Jackson Awards. It was originally published in Tin House, a venue that wouldn't necessarily be nominated for a genre award like the Hugo Awards, but definitely a publication that savvy readers should monitor. Even back then, there was a succinctness and elegance to her writing style, while it maintained an atmosphere of speculative fiction—in other words, a story that could easily have found a home in Strange Horizons.

Reading Ziemska’s fiction, I thought I had stumbled on the next Kelly Link or Aimee Bender; it’s not just the writing style, but the sense that she could easily have fit in either the science fiction/fantasy or the literary community—and whichever social circle she chose, they would be better for it. Unfortunately, Ziemska is neither a prolific nor public writer, and tragically isn’t even on the radar of many genre readers.

So it was a surprise when I found "Count Poniatowski and the Beautiful Chicken" in Interfictions 2 (ed. Delia Sherman & Christopher Barzak), one of my favorite anthologies to date. The book included a lot of effective and touching stories, and it introduced me to several writers I had never heard of before. But when it came to curating a story for Strange Horizons, I knew I only had this single chance (what were the editors thinking picking me?), so I picked what I felt was not only one of the best, but a story from an author whom readers might not be aware of.

One of the best parts of this endeavour was rereading my favorite stories. "Count Poniatowskiand the Beautiful Chicken" stands the test of time and hits all the right notes, not just because it talks about the immigrant experience, features a female narrator, or is simply a well-written story, but because it’s one of the few narratives that makes me choke up and provides this sense of catharsis. Not surprisingly, several of those type of stories can be found at Strange Horizons ("L'Aquilone du Estrellas (The Kite of Stars)" by Dean Francis Alfar and “Little Gods” by Tim Pratt come to mind), which brings me to my second agenda.

Here in the Philippines, readers don’t have instantaneous access to books. It takes a month for bookstores (online or otherwise) to deliver books here (not to mention the expense). If I want to recommend a story, I’d better have the book or magazine in hand (and perhaps risk it never getting returned), or the recommendation will come to naught. And that’s why I love a website like Strange Horizons: I love this story, go to this website and read it. I hope readers will agree with me when I recommend "Count Poniatowskiand the Beautiful Chicken."




Charles Tan is the editor of Lauriat: A Filipino-Chinese Speculative Fiction Anthology, the Philippine Speculative Fiction Sampler, and Best of Philippine Speculative Fiction 2009. His fiction has appeared in The Digest of Philippine Genre Stories, Philippine Speculative Fiction, and The Dragon and the Stars. He has contributed nonfiction to The Shirley Jackson AwardsFantasy Magazine, The World SF Blog, and SF Signal. In 2009, he won the Last Drink Bird Head Award for International Activism. He was also nominated twice for the World Fantasy Awards.  You can visit his blog, Bibliophile Stalker.
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.
It is probably impossible to understand how transformative all of this could be unless you have actually been on the receiving end.
Some of our reviewers offer recollections of Maureen Kincaid Speller.
When I first told Maureen Kincaid Speller that A Closed and Common Orbit was among my favourite current works of science fiction she did not agree with me. Five years later, I'm trying to work out how I came to that perspective myself.
Cloud Atlas can be expressed as ABC[P]YZY[P]CBA. The Actual Star , however, would be depicted as A[P]ZA[P]ZA[P]Z (and so on).
a ghostly airship / sorting and discarding to a pattern that isn’t available to those who are part of it / now attempting to deal with the utterly unknowable
Most likely you’d have questioned the premise, / done it well and kindly then moved on
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.
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.
In the vast traditions that inspire SF worldbuilding, what will be reclaimed and reinvented, and what will be discarded? How do narratives on the periphery speak to and interact with each other in their local contexts, rather than in opposition to the dominant structures of white Western hegemonic culture? What dynamics and possibilities are revealed in the repositioning of these narratives?
Tuesday: Genre Fiction: The Roaring Years by Peter Nicholls 
Wednesday: HellSans by Ever Dundas 
Thursday: Everything for Everyone: An Oral History of the New York Commune, 2052-2072 by M. E. O'Brien and Eman Abdelhadi 
Friday: House of the Dragon Season One 
Issue 23 Jan 2023
Issue 16 Jan 2023
Issue 9 Jan 2023
Strange Horizons
2 Jan 2023
Welcome, fellow walkers of the jianghu.
Issue 2 Jan 2023
Strange Horizons
Issue 19 Dec 2022
Issue 12 Dec 2022
Issue 5 Dec 2022
Issue 28 Nov 2022
By: RiverFlow
Translated by: Emily Jin
Issue 21 Nov 2022
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