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I learned a new language today,
       one comprised
             of fragrances:

       each word a combination of
morphemes of scent,

the head note, mid note, and heart note
       forming footholds of syntax.

I tried to recreate you in this language.

I distilled your smile into
       the sweetness of lychee, placed it
       in the head note: always the first part of you
that I notice.

In the mid note I placed
       lemongrass and tobacco,
             warm and spiced, resonant in the air,
       a scent that embraces me, clings to my red dress,
             says in your golden tones:
       I’m here for you.

And into the heart I breathed
those heavier notes:
       the gunsmoke that chases ever after you,
             the silver that burns against your skin,
                   the musk of something wild, untamed.

It’s you, almost—then I realize
       what’s missing:

the word we share
       that fills my lungs,
lingers sweet on my tongue,

       too large
for only one sense.



S. Qiouyi Lu writes, translates, and edits between two coasts of the Pacific. Their fiction and poetry has appeared in Asimov’s, F&SF, and Strange Horizons, and their translations have appeared in Clarkesworld. They edit the flash fiction and poetry magazine Arsenika. You can find out more about S. at their website, s.qiouyi.lu.
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.
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Issue 28 Nov 2022
By: RiverFlow
Translated by: Emily Jin
Issue 21 Nov 2022
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