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Welcome to the Strange Horizons 2020 special issue on chosen families!

For some of us, the word family can be a difficult and complicated one. It can be used to imply that you should be closest to people you're genetically related to, or people who raised you, no matter what. But the idea of family can be extended to mean the people you choose to be close to: the family to whom you aren’t just assigned by chance, but by choice.

In one of Manly Wade Wellman’s “Silver John” stories, John says:

“[Brothers] that choose [...] one another [...] have a chance to turn out better than [...] brothers born to the same father and mother, [who] have to do the best they can with just their own blood kin.”

Which is not to say that blood kinship is never a good thing, or shouldn’t be important; only that there are other possibilities.

In the science fiction community (as well as in other communities), there have always been people who haven’t felt comfortable with their family of birth or the family who raised them; sometimes, finding your community can feel like finding home and family. Perhaps that’s why chosen family has long been a popular theme in SF. Chosen families in the real world can take many forms, and SF has provided even more reimaginings of what a family can be: Duane’s group marriages, Le Guin’s four-person Morning/Evening marriages, Heinlein’s line marriages, and a vast array of other kinship and kithship concepts in various fictional cultures. Family doesn’t have to involve marriage, of course: shared experiences or shared interests can also forge familial feelings, and SF is full of loyal comrades of all sorts, human and otherwise. (As a common Tumblr trope notes, humans will packbond with anything.) I see these themes on television, too: a team or group or crew that starts out as individuals, sometimes not liking or trusting each other, but gradually growing close, until they form what feels very much like a familial unit.

In Ursula K. Le Guin’s Foreword to The Birthday of the World and Other Stories, she wrote:

“To create difference—to establish strangeness—then to let the fiery arc of human emotion leap and close the gap: this acrobatics of the imagination fascinates and satisfies me as no other.”

That kind of bridging connection is one of my favorite things in fiction. It figures prominently in this week’s fiction: “68:Hazard:Cold,” by Janelle C. Shane, and “Monsters Never Leave You,” by Carlie St. George. Both stories bring together beings who are unlike each other but have commonalities. This week’s poems—“Beasts of New France,” by Millie Ho; “Mercy,” by Robert K. Walters; and “A Mountain on My Back,” by Niloufar-Lily Soltani—show disconnections with blood ties and connections of other sorts. In an article, “The Power of Chosen Family: Kingdom Hearts’ Sea Salt Trio,” Latonya Pennington discusses a chosen family from the video game series Kingdom Hearts. And in reviews, Catherine Rockwood reviews Stormsong, by C. L. Polk, and Bee Gabriel reviews Mexican Gothic, by Silvia Moreno-Garcia.



Jed Hartman is a former Strange Horizons fiction editor.
Current Issue
18 Jan 2021

Soft Shoulder speaking softly / quick-stop-tongued lanky cur dog / lisping languid in jeans
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.
Splinters, old and new. How else can the skin remember the tree? If it hurts, that is the point.
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.
Wednesday: 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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