We're pleased to publish the first in a series of personal essays by Strange Horizons authors discussing what the magazine has meant to them. Enjoy!
Strange Horizons was the first online speculative fiction magazine I read, back in the early days of 2001. From the get-go I knew I wanted to be published here. I wanted to be a part of something that was from its inception open to the idea of diverse voices and viewpoints from around the world.
Over the years, I have watched as the editorial board grew from strength to strength, always willing to consider new viewpoints, to give a fresh start to authors who have become world-renowned, such as Ken Liu and NK Jemisin. They are not afraid to push the envelope when it comes to exploring different ways and formats of presenting storytelling – one of my favourite poems published by them is Bogi Takács' "You Are Here" and one of my best-loved stories is the disturbing and lyrically lovely "The Wives of Azhar" by Roshani Chokshi.
Then, in 2015, my own short story, "Tower of the Rosewater Goblet" was accepted by them. I was asked to revise – and to my surprise, the revisions they wanted didn’t require the story to be made more traditional narrative-wise, but to challenge further the structures of accepted SFnal storytelling. I was delighted because it allowed me to spread my writing wings and take risks I had been too afraid to take.
"Tower of the Rosewater Goblet" is one of the stories I hold dearest to my heart because it’s about silencing, and in a way it’s about the impact of cultural appropriation but above all this – it is a story about the various ways resistance and quiet revolutions can happen within diseased regimes. Because heroes are not always obvious, nor are villains. Because Strange Horizons is such a place in which the lavish vistas of our SFnal imaginings can co-exist with a social conscience, and with the other imperative of all art – not just to delight, or to instruct, but to empower other minds and souls into envisioning their own bright futures.