In this conversation, Martin Petto and Electra Pritchett discuss reading Prophet from within the traditions of SFF—but also what its relationship to that literature and community means more broadly for literature’s approach to the quotidian and science fictional, to audiences of different kinds, and to form itself.
The prohibitions of my situation were clear enough: going out, meeting people, traversing the Atlantic, or coming within two metres of supermarket cashiers were all out. But under what conditions could I make my literary escapes? What might I find on the other side of these doors?
Mushrooms didn’t exactly sweep sci-fi, fantasy, and horror, but much like their real-world inspiration they persisted, growing in the damp, dark crevices of the creative minds of every generation. They were a template for the anxieties of each age, seasoned with the fears of the era.
a reading practice that offers a reorientation, a way for us to read African and African diaspora artists with and through each other—our cultures, philosophies, epistemologies—without the need to reference European ones
Writing authentic stories may require you to make the same sacrifice. This is not a question of whether or not you are ready to write indigenous literature, but whether you are willing to do so. Whatever your decision, continue to be kind to indigenous writers. Do not ask us why we are not famous or complain about why we are not getting support for our work. There can only be one answer to that: people are too busy to care. At least you care, and that should be enough to keep my culture alive.
Back in 2005, the journalist Thomas L. Friedman championed the wave of globalisation in the 21st century in his book The World Is Flat. Today, that title’s more notable for its shortcomings than its innate truths. As much as we’d like to believe it, our planet isn’t flat: it’s a treacherous terrain of unequal opportunities.
Nevertheless, slowly if not surely, the axis of power is tilting. It’s shifting our lands closer, chipping away at our borders, making them porous enough that if we prick up our ears, we can hear each other speak our stories. And it’s changing the light, so a few more of us may have our time in the sun.
Given SF’s reputation as the gold standard for portrayals of reproduction, it is surprising to realize that science fiction as a genre contains almost no abortions at all. Yes, there are metaphors for abortion (Alien); yes, there are a plethora of novels that explore abortion bans (Annalee Newitz, The Future of Another Timeline); yes, there are dozens of works exploring forced birth (Octavia Butler, Dawn). But the act of abortion itself? It’s nearly nonexistent. If politicians decided to censor the portrayal of abortion in the media, science fiction would emerge nearly untouched.
We are gathered here today to listen to the second instalment of a cheeky little BBC audio drama called The Slide. From what I remember, the first episode featured some voice actors I like but I can’t remember who they are now. I also remember sentient and possibly malicious mud?
For me, the limits in analysing MDZS are a source of hope for the continued possibility of resistance against essentialist attitudes towards gender and sexuality, in and beyond contemporary China. While MDZS is recognised as a work of speculative fiction due to its xianxia setting, I find that its speculative force resides in its subversions of hegemonic masculinity within conventions of danmei. The work and genre’s appeal lies in its portrayal of worlds in which gender dynamics a means of creating affect and producing desire, rather than a source of oppression and control. It is a speculative mode which is not detached from embodied experience, but rather deeply informed by it, as affect becomes the starting point from which we imagine alternate forms of existence.
Strange Horizons is a weekly magazine of and about speculative fiction. We publish fiction, poetry, reviews, essays, interviews, and art. For more information, see our about page. All material in Strange Horizons is copyrighted to the original authors and may not be reproduced without permission.