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after Stephanie Burt, and after Grant Morrison’s New X-Men (2001-2004)

    I tell Trish I’m not interested in a relationship with a human being right now, in fact I’m gay,
I think, and she is stunned. I run away because of the intruder alert signaling battle
from below the fireworks commemorating mutants, and Trish looks white
in the night’s dark and she yells back at me as I run that I am just a beast
and that she shouldn’t have ever loved me, she’ll report it all to the news, that the blue
and furry teacher of children is homosexual yet loves science,

as if that has anything to do with science.
My desire,                                           being gay
is who I need to be. I could be accepted as blue
and not engage again and again in the battle
between my color and hair and what I used to be, not a beast
per se, but still an opposable-toed homunculus, white.

Cyclops gives me shit, ignores he’s having an affair with the White
Queen (what we called her when she was more obviously a villain) and I don’t need to be a scientist
to know that sexuality, gender, and species don’t make the man a beast,
but only language, and so I tell smug Cyclops that I’m as gay
as the next mutant, and that all mutants find themselves within battles
in which they are simultaneously alone and part of a whole, and that I’m blue

makes it all the clearer for me that it is the color of my fur, blue,
that has made me the Other more than Cyclops, the white
Boy Scout so good with order and appointed leader for battle,
while it is the lab that made me my color without my consent. Science
is how I am relevant for much of my publication history, and now I’m gay,
so the metaphor expands, and I remind the world my name is Beast.

I tell Jean I fear of waking up as Gregor Samsa or a beastly
virus designed to kill mutants: I don’t have it in me to cure another plague. People magazine has me extra blue
behind the white backdrop of the front-page exclaiming “I’m as gay
as it gets” and the text rests above an update on the Brangelina situation. The White
Queen sees it and reminds me that she can read my mind and I tell her I know the science
and that she should prepare for battle.

I told the Professor ten years ago I tire of battle
and wish to remain in the lab to cure the first virus. He tells me I will always be Beast
to him, vicious and determined and calculating enough to make the science
work. I tell him there is much that goes into the science beyond beakers—I’ll soon write Blue
Like Me to challenge notions of language, gender, and species, and the white
nationalists can panic that not only am I blue and mutant but also gay.

My phenotypes are human, ape, and feral, and I suppose I’m gay
too, my skin having been white, then blue, then white,
then blue again, and in some ways I can’t explain I’ll always be blue.



Xander Gershberg (he/him) is a bisexual poet and educator, and part of Spout Press’s editorial collective. His poetry appears or is forthcoming in Poetry Online, Great River Review, and the minnesota review online blog. He is completing an MFA in poetry at Virginia Tech, where he teaches writing.
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.
Friday: House of the Dragon Season One 
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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