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in the dry Junes of Karachi I don a white cotton shalwar
kameez (a moonlighter), so become my afternoon &
my night & douse this blackness in viscous castor oil which
mama’ll vigorously knead—the stickiness against a white
skull with fingers made stiff from years of rheumatoid arthritis.
Is this the inexplicable south asian love? because in the
West I only want the scent of mamas janemaaz ka dupatta &
I’m sorry for frantically clinging to Pakistan wherever i
go making it hard for your homes to welcome me & for you
foreign lovers to embrace me & I’m sorry that I can’t
help friending you on Facebook just to show how great my
life’s gotten since high school & not just the published
poems & the articles & the acting but the little things. like when
Asiya’ll welcome my return, thousand lines criss-crossing
tanned skin & I’m 11 years old again. how is it that people who’ve
had husbands murdered by village mobs can find happiness
in life whereas I, who’ve lived a near painless life cannot? but at least
my evenings are marked with daddy’s Jimmy Choo’s cologne
and brylcreem which you smell before seeing him & everyone knows
that I’ll do anything to impress my dad like even burning myself
out to the point of depression, so that’s why Allah beckons me to the
prayer mat & I’m sorry for inconveniencing you white peeps but
just know, not all Muslims are terrorists & do you even really know Islam
and the great solace it gives us. I know my mom would want me to
pray. this is the fifth time she’s pinged me—empty nest syndrome has hit
hard but darling, any second now you’ll get a semblance of home,
so don’t hurt yourself just yet.



Neha Maqsood is a Pakistani journalist whose writing on race, religion, and global feminism has been published in Metro UK, Express Tribune, Foreign Policy, Women Under Siege, and other places. Her poetry, too, has been featured or is forthcoming in over twenty literary journals and magazines, including Gutter Magazine, Marble Poetry, Abridged, and more. In 2019, she was the recipient of the Black Bough Readers Award for Poetry. Her poetry chapbook, Vulnerability, is scheduled for publication by Hellebore Press in 2021. You can follow her on Twitter @maqsood_neha.
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
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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