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This poem is part of our 2016 fund drive bonus issue! Read more about Strange Horizons' funding model, or donate, here.


Content warning:


Stop.
Thief.

I do not know what I took.
I was guarding the nest when the storms came—
guarding you—and then the choking dust,
the ash, the grave. Then these bone-plaster men,
waking me out of my sleep, accusing.

This species does not brood its nest.
How could it? Cold-blooded, primitive,
soulless. She stole them.

I raise my hackles and open my mouth,
but their hands already stroke my brow,
soothing. Mock-soft. We understand.
You are hungry, not wicked; what could be wrong
with hunger?

And I was hungry when I laid you.
Hungry as any mother, staying at the nest,
giving up the hunt to keep you warm.

They measure my rotted-out eyeholes,
my scraped-clean skull. They explain me.
Did you know? My beak, my strong smooth jaw,
is shaped to crack you open and devour you.
My swift legs, to run with you,
far from the punishing horns
of your real mother.

It is all right, they assure me.
It is what you had to do. Any woman would eat a child
if she had to, if it was this or starvation.

I do not know. Can I trust my memory?
I think you were mine. I think I loved you.
But these voices ring so loud, so sure, so vivid
that I can see it in my mind. I can feel
your shell crack, your yolk drip down my chin.
Perhaps I am wrong. Maybe I ate you after all,

my egg, my tiny everything,
who I covered with my body
when the storms came.




Ada Hoffmann is the author of The Outside and Monsters in My Mind. Her writing has appeared in Strange Horizons, Asimov's, and Uncanny. She is a computer scientist, a classically trained soprano, and an autistic self-advocate. You can find her online at http://ada-hoffmann.com/ or on Twitter at @xasymptote.
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.
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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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By: RiverFlow
Translated by: Emily Jin
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