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A story shouldn't be judged for its context, the time and place where it was written and/or published; a story should be judged for itself. And yet my fondness for "The Gods of Reorth" is born both of the story and of the cultural context in which it appeared.

This "introduction" contains major spoilers for the story, so read the story first if that will bother you.

Lizzy Lynn and I were close friends when this story was looking for a publisher, and we're close friends now, more than 30 years later. I read it first in manuscript, and it touched me deeply. Science fiction stories about women loving each other (outside of the lesbian small-publishing industry) were few and far between in the late 1970s. So, it was frustrating but not surprising when Liz got a rejection slip for the story on the ground that the main character's actions weren't adequately grounded in the story's action: in other words, finding the bloody murdered body of your lover is not enough motive for an act of revenge—as long as you and your lover are both women. Swap out Jael's gender for male, and no editor would ever have made that complaint.

Leaving the context behind, a few things jump out about the story: first, it is a science fiction story. Liz's language always has a fantasy flavor; even her hard SF novels often sound like epic fantasy. A good science fiction story should have a scientific backing that is essential to the story: Jael cannot be who she is, or do what she does, without the specific technology that backs her up. Her revenge is perfectly situated in her power, and her power is technological.

Second, it is a story of what happens when gods interact with humans. If any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic (Clarke's Law), then the wielders of any sufficiently advanced technology are indistinguishable from gods. And gods are lonely. What humans have to offer gods are intangibles, things the god cannot create for herself, such as companionship, trust, and ease.

And finally, the revenge at the end of the story is swift, implacable . . . and kind. This is not an "eye for an eye" or "life for a life" story; Jael could so easily do to the soldiers of Rys what they did to her lover; instead, she wreaks a vengeance that is powerful and bloodless, devastating and reparable. This is revenge as solution, not as endless loop.

If you like this story, find Liz's hard science fiction novels: A Different Light and The Sardonyx Net. Or her fantasy novels, the Chronicles of Tornor trilogy and the two newer ones (Dragon's Winter and Dragon's Treasure). Or even her most successful fantasy novella, "The Woman Who Loved the Moon" (in her collection The Woman Who Loved the Moon and Other Stories, which also contains this story)—that's the one she thought I should have picked for this showcase. You'll be glad you did.

Debbie Notkin has been a specialty bookseller, a reviewer for Locus, a fanzine publisher, an editor at Tor, a WisCon and FOGcon organizer, and more. She is the chair of the Tiptree Award motherboard. She blogs with Laurie Toby Edison, her photography partner in body image work, at Body Impolitic.
Current Issue
18 Jan 2021

Splinters, old and new. How else can the skin remember the tree? If it hurts, that is the point.
By: Zach Ozma
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Podcast read by: Zach Ozma
In this episode of the Strange Horizons podcast, editor Ciro Faienza presents Zach Ozma's “Soft Shoulder (Excerpt)” with a reading by the poet.
Soft Shoulder (Excerpt) 
Soft Shoulder speaking softly / quick-stop-tongued lanky cur dog / lisping languid in jeans
Artist Interview: Juliana Pinho's Making-Of 
The way I see it, this story is full of symbolic touchstones, visual elements with layers of meaning that are not always obvious, or even accessible, to the reader.
Monday: Little Eyes by Samanta Schweblin, translated by Megan McDowell 
Friday: Bulbbul 
Friday: The Hierarchies by Ros Anderson 
Issue 11 Jan 2021
By: Ryu Ando
Podcast read by: Kat Kourbeti
By: Nikki Caffier Smith
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 4 Jan 2021
By: Maya Beck
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Stephanie Burt
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Podcast read by: Stephanie Burt
Issue 21 Dec 2020
By: Octavia Cade
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Meep Matsushima
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Podcast read by: Meep Matsushima
Issue 14 Dec 2020
By: ML Kejera
Podcast read by: Kat Kourbeti
By: Brigid Nemeton
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Podcast read by: Brigid Nemeton
7 Dec 2020
Strange Horizons is now accepting fiction submissions for the Palestinian Special issue! The issue, edited by Rasha Abdulhadi and Basma Ghalayini will be published at the end of March 2021. We are open for submissions from now until January 31, 2021. Don't wait till the end to send your work!
7 Dec 2020
تقديم الطلبات مفتوح من الان و حتى تاريخ 31 يناير 2021. قدم/ قدمي عملك عاجلا و ليس آجلا!
Issue 7 Dec 2020
By: Toby MacNutt
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Anna Cates
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 1 Dec 2020
By: Ateri Miyawatl
Translated by: Ateri Miyawatl
By: Ateri Miyawatl
Translated by: Adam Coon
By: Vraiux Dorós
Translated by: Toshiya Kamei
By: Luz Rosales
Translated by: Andrea Chapela
By: Libia Brenda
Translated by: Allana C. Noyes
By: Ateri Miyawatl
Podcast read by: Ateri Miyawatl
Podcast: Bromelia (English) 
Podcast: Bromelia (Español) 
Issue 23 Nov 2020
By: Michael Bazzett
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Podcast read by: Michael Bazzett
Issue 16 Nov 2020
By: Cat Aquino
Podcast read by: Kat Kourbeti
By: Michael Chang
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
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