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In my calculus class was a man in an iridescent polo and
pigeon feathers in his dark, tangled hair. i frequented the
city near by the college everyday, absorbing the people
and the sights until they were all deftly engraved into the
darkest creases of my mind, yet not once had i seen such a
fantastical and whimsical sight. he had eyes the shade of
jade, with a piercing stare that inflamed my body and led
me to ascension.

In my calculus class, we imputed derivatives and found
the area under the curve, with algebra and geometry
breathing seducing words into scarcely feeling brains.
the man raised his hand, and though i could not
understand the alien language that possessed his tongue,
i was rather fixated with his zest and dynamical control of
a pedestrian room.

After calculus class, i hastened my steps, the colors
reflecting from his shirt a beacon for my worn eyes as we
bounded past the hall, the garden, then the lake. his
feathers were a curious case, newton’s law of universal
gravitation having no impact despite the dainty autumn
wind that ghosted against our skin. i was tempted to steal
away, perhaps with a feather or two and call it a day,
if only he didn’t turn around to face me, eyes knowing
and blackened veins running down the length of his neck.

Under the sun, i learned many things at once. his unnatural
ivory skin, his bulging veins that were pure black, his
very being was—

Singular. mythical. perhaps even a foreign lifeform that
beguiled those who saw him and enraptured them until
their hearts beat solely for him and no one else. a warning
sign that i took as ecstasy.

His lips moved, but no words came out. instead, i felt my
cheeks flush at the precipitate influx of emotions that
threatened to tear me apart. his jaded eyes intersected
with my soul, and i let no further thoughts consume me.
no, every atom of my existence faded.

I was blank; empty space.

When i came to consciousness, he had vanished. i could
see a hole in the atmospheric layers of the earth, obscure to
those who did not share the experience, but nothing else
indicated the presence of an idiosyncratic man or being.
he was gone, yet i took solace in the fact that he let me see
him, in my calculus class and here at this surreptitious lake.
i lingered for a fleeting moment, watching the ripples of the
crystal water as they flashed green in the light, before
returning to normality.

Michelle Dang is a Vietnamese-American high school student based in Massachusetts. Besides being an enthusiast of the literary and visual arts, she is also the vice president of the Speech and Debate Club and a member of her school’s choir. Head in the clouds, she enjoys fantasizing about life outside of society and in her own self-created mythical realm. Find her on Instagram at @astronomicwords.
Current Issue
30 Jan 2023

In January 2022, the reviews department at Strange Horizons, led at the time by Maureen Kincaid Speller, published our first special issue with a focus on SF criticism. We were incredibly proud of this issue, and heartened by how many people seemed to feel, with us, that criticism of the kind we publish was important; that it was creative, transformative, worthwhile. We’d been editing the reviews section for a few years at this point, and the process of putting together this special, and the reception it got, felt like a kind of renewal—a reminder of why we cared so much.
It is probably impossible to understand how transformative all of this could be unless you have actually been on the receiving end.
Some of our reviewers offer recollections of Maureen Kincaid Speller.
Criticism was equally an extension of Maureen’s generosity. She not only made space for the text, listening and responding to its own otherness, but she also made space for her readers. Each review was an invitation, a gift to inquire further, to think more deeply and more sensitively about what it is we do when we read.
When I first told Maureen Kincaid Speller that A Closed and Common Orbit was among my favourite current works of science fiction she did not agree with me. Five years later, I'm trying to work out how I came to that perspective myself.
Cloud Atlas can be expressed as ABC[P]YZY[P]CBA. The Actual Star , however, would be depicted as A[P]ZA[P]ZA[P]Z (and so on).
In the vast traditions that inspire SF worldbuilding, what will be reclaimed and reinvented, and what will be discarded? How do narratives on the periphery speak to and interact with each other in their local contexts, rather than in opposition to the dominant structures of white Western hegemonic culture? What dynamics and possibilities are revealed in the repositioning of these narratives?
a ghostly airship / sorting and discarding to a pattern that isn’t available to those who are part of it / now attempting to deal with the utterly unknowable
Most likely you’d have questioned the premise, / done it well and kindly then moved on
In this special episode of Critical Friends, the Strange Horizons SFF criticism podcast, reviews editors Aisha Subramanian and Dan Hartland introduce audio from a 2018 recording for Jonah Sutton-Morse’s podcast Cabbages and Kings which included Maureen Kincaid Speller discussing with Aisha and Jonah three books: Everfair by Nisi Shawl, Temporary People by Deepak Unnikrishnan, and The Winged Histories by Sofia Samatar.
Issue 23 Jan 2023
Issue 16 Jan 2023
Issue 9 Jan 2023
Strange Horizons
2 Jan 2023
Welcome, fellow walkers of the jianghu.
Issue 2 Jan 2023
Strange Horizons
Issue 19 Dec 2022
Issue 12 Dec 2022
Issue 5 Dec 2022
Issue 28 Nov 2022
By: RiverFlow
Translated by: Emily Jin
Issue 21 Nov 2022
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