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at dusk, the jigsaw puzzle of the cracked mesa
molts sulfur blue, nuclear-fissions into a Jericho
of blue roses and peacocks. the sapphire coveted
by both pyromaniac and alchemist.

the dichotomy of dark and light melts down in our bodies
and blossoms a language where nouns
replace themselves with birds.                     my mother bends like an agave blossom

under her father’s darkness. in the old corral, penny-stamped horses
strike the night with tin hooves, whipping up the moonlight
into cream.

the blood of the brothers begins to poppy the slopes
of blue mountains, tints each family photograph

with rust. I ask my mother if all language is an exile.
she combs my hair with a butterfly.


tonight our bodies nest like black swans in the amaryllis,
beyond the moon-mirrored adobe. your face, an antelope skull
encrusted in purple sand, horns coiling with the smoke of flies.

my mother’s hands are the songbirds that rainbow
a battered clay window. are ladles of well water
for a wildfire of foxes. for this parched language that rusts
without the antecedent of rain.

the desert melts down into hot wax, festers this banquet
of luminous abuelas and Spanish dancing shoes,
tambourine doves and carnival bears. where husbands and fathers kneel
at our laps as snowy stags. my mother, la princesa de rosas azules,

burns under a scorpion crown. she tells me one day the words will muerte themselves,
will mariposa themselves, will phoenix into terrible wings,
and weld each noun to thing. her hands, dark oleanders tipped in blood.
when she speaks, my palms burn with hot rain.

Steffi Lang is a Latina-German American originally from the US-Mexico borderlands, now living on a mountain tip in rural Appalachia among sightings of Sasquatch and ghost trains. Her writing has appeared in Haverthorn, Rust + Moth, The Apeiron Review and is upcoming in Duende and others.
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.
Friday: House of the Dragon Season One 
Issue 23 Jan 2023
Issue 16 Jan 2023
Issue 9 Jan 2023
Strange Horizons
2 Jan 2023
Welcome, fellow walkers of the jianghu.
Issue 2 Jan 2023
Strange Horizons
Issue 19 Dec 2022
Issue 12 Dec 2022
Issue 5 Dec 2022
Issue 28 Nov 2022
By: RiverFlow
Translated by: Emily Jin
Issue 21 Nov 2022
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