This is a post about awards eligibility—the nonfiction type. This category tends to get less than half the initial nominations of, say, best novel or short story, but it is worth some thought. After all, it is nonfiction that makes sense of and binds together the individual fictions we create, read, and live.
Strange Horizons publishes nonfiction regularly, in the form of articles, reviews, columns, interviews, and roundtables. Based on your clicking habits, dear readers, here is a reminder of what you paid the most attention to in 2019 from the SH nonfiction team:
Variations on a Name: the -punks of Our Times, by Jaymee Goh: Jaymee sets out a genealogy of SFF sub-genres that have spun off the original steampunk. She takes us on a whistle-stop tour of a range of traditions that displace Eurocentric conceptions of speculative fiction.
Always Open, the Eureka Hotel, by Jamey Hatley: Jamey's essay about a road trip through the American deep South defies easy description or classification; readers may find it somewhat reminiscent of Colson Whitehead's Underground Railroad, with Jamey's (real-life) Eureka hotel playing the part of the Underground Railroad.
The State of Play of Brazilian SFF, by Jana Bianchi: In 2019, Strange Horizons ran a special edition on Brazilian SFF. The issue was anchored by this essay by Jana Bianchi, that takes readers through the pasts, presents, and (hopeful) futures of Brazilian SFF.
Orcs, Britons, and the Martial Race Myth, Part I: A Species Built for Racial Terror, by James Mendez Hodes: Tolkien's Lord of the Rings has long been critiqued through the lens of race. In this essay, Hodes advances a fresh critique: he marshals evidence to argue that the inspiration for Orcs appears to come from stereotypes about Mongols, and the Mongol Empire.
Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James, reviewed by Gautam Bhatia, which features a discussion of the novel's relationship to the white fantasy paradigm.
Abigail Nussbaum's review of Kim Stanley Robinson's Red Moon, which took Robinson to task for reducing China to a component in his worldbuilding.
Samira Nadkarni's review of Wynonna Series 3, which discussed, among other things, the show's inability to develop narrative arcs for their characters of colour while providing them for white characters.
Nibedita Sen's review of Tasha Suri's Empire of Sand, which they particularly admired for 'how thoroughly it interrogates hierarchies of power and tradition without ever demonizing the people involved.'