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The first morning in May
I sit in my tower,
in the window of my
bower, sewing a shroud
as white as the daisies
that bloom upon the field.

The first morning in May
I hear the blowing of
his elven horn and the
drumming of his fae steed’s
hooves over the field where
the daisies bloom bone white.

The first morning in May
I sit in my tower
and wish for a husband
as did my sisters sweet,
six in number, as his
horn blows over the field.

The first morning in May
he leaps to my window
where I sit and sew a
bone white shroud. Fair maiden,
says he, I have heard your
plea, and come to claim you.

The first morning in May
to the elf knight I say,
Kind sir, the youngest I
am, and the last. Will you
not leave me to the care
of my parents most dear?

The first morning in May
in the window of my
bower, the elf knight does
smile and say, Six brides
I have claimed, and seven
you shall be, yea or nay.

The first morning in May
down from my tower we
climb, shroud as my veil. We
leap on his fae steed and
ride o’er the white field to
the green of the greenwood.

The first morning in May
the elf knight smiles and
says unto me, Take heart,
fair maiden, for here you
shall die, but you shall lie
among your sisters sweet.

The first morning in May
we lay in the greenwood.
With the shroud I slay him,
a noose, a snare, a trap.
With the shroud I lay him
among bones white and sweet.

The first morning in May
midst the greenwood and the
bones, to the elf knight I
say, Six you have claimed. Six
you have slain. Here you shall
lie, husband to them all.


[Author’s Note: inspired by “Lady Isabel and the Elf-Knight” from The English and Scottish Popular Ballads (1882-1898), edited by Francis James Child.]

Rebecca Buchanan is the editor of the Pagan literary ezine Eternal Haunted Summer. Her work has appeared in a variety of venues, including Abyss & Apex, Enchanted Conversation, Eye to the Telescope, and Star*Line. Her next poetry collection, Not a Princess, But (Yes) There Was a Pea, and Other Fairy Tales to Foment Revolution will be released later this year by Jackanapes Press.
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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