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see
—fingers opening up a corpse
—a girl crawling into her dead mother
—maggots + blackened decay
—a girl alone in the dark + newborn, dead
—umbilicus, blood, mud
—a sun-headed god wielding a flaming sword
—bithbenia, homeland, droughting
—swamps + farms vomiting black waters + forests falling like the twins of wan
—the sun splitting itself in four
—grand cities crumbling,
yulia, maanka, kalith,
like dreams, or clouds
—a lover with no face
—an army rising in your name +
an army rising against all that you are
—the downfall of the kalrr of bithoen

hear
—look at all they’ve done
—the silence of the gods + the roar of betrayal
—the whetting of swords
—they banish me, and take my eyes, that i may not find the road back again. i will pray no more to the one hundred gods of bithbenia
—boots stomping dry earth
—a blind girl begging strangers to drag her to her mother’s grave, at the edge of the city
—senseless whispers, like flowing water
—mama, mama. how dare you let them go free? they burnt our home to the ground, mama, killed your sons, killed papa, took all we have. i will not even say what they did to me. am i not bleeding? has my husband not been murdered? have you not been called the witch of yulia, derawudin’s daughter? how dare you stay in your grave,
unmoving?
—why are you in my grave, unmoving?

 

 

[Editor’s Note: Publication of this poem was made possible by a gift from Betsy Aoki during our annual Kickstarter.]



Victor Forna is a Sierra Leonean writer based in his country’s capital Freetown. His short fiction and poetry have been published or are forthcoming in homes such as Fantasy Magazine, PodCastle, Lightspeed, Lolwe, and elsewhere. He is an alumnus of the 2022 AKO Caine Prize Writing Workshop. You can find him on Twitter @vforna12.
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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