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Ariel, belle of the sea, drunk on a bar stool next to me. She grieves,
says she feels suckered, did not sprout the legs

she was promised. Her siren-red thatch clings head to shoulders
as she sobs, I am neither a woman, nor a fish. The gin, murky, her third,

gestures in her lily-knuckled grip. I think, What a dreamer. Who could help
but adore such a creature? I once read that the Danish novelist who imagined her

was celibate. When he died, his recovered journal said, MY BLOOD WANTS
LOVE. I pity big-eyed Ariel, now draped over the marble belly

of the bar; she is the candied contortion of his original lust. She looks up,
her tear-drops look too severe. They cut tracks, and when one starts

from her mouth I know it is blood. Stunned, I follow their ooze to a pool on the blue
rubber floor, 'round a pile of her salty insides. How had I not noticed her

missing lower half? All this time, a torso propped on the stool, snug
in its seashell brassiere. With each weeping heave, she has pumped from the place

where her waist was severed: a sludge of lungs, stomach, and parts
of her heart. The gin, too, must be mixed in. I recall

Hans Christian's full entry: MY BLOOD WANTS LOVE
AS MY HEART DOES. Like little Karen in his later fairytale, whose possessed

red shoes force her to dance forever, Ariel was misled.
She misread. Signed for a human soul, not legs.




KH van Berkum is a New England based poet and teacher whose poems have appeared in publications such as Curio Poetry, Vine Leaves Literary Journal, and Eunoia Review.  She is currently an MFA Candidate in Poetry and Teaching Fellow at Boston University.  She lives in Cambridge, where she can often be spotted dog-walking or spontaneously dancing.   
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
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Strange Horizons
2 Jan 2023
Welcome, fellow walkers of the jianghu.
Issue 2 Jan 2023
Strange Horizons
Issue 19 Dec 2022
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Issue 5 Dec 2022
Issue 28 Nov 2022
By: RiverFlow
Translated by: Emily Jin
Issue 21 Nov 2022
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