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After we have left this world, after we have taken to the sky
or perished or a combination of both, after the planet has

healed itself, after the scabs have turned to scars, after
you have traveled far or, perhaps, risen instead from the

sludge we left behind, grew legs, perhaps, and learned
to walk as we once did, you may find yourself here

on what used to be our home. You should know that
we called it a variety of names, but you may call it

what you like. Look at the mountains and know they
are ancient. Look to the rivers, the ocean, the perfect

synchronicity, the give and take, the way rain becomes snow
becomes river becomes ocean becomes rain again. Look to

the tiniest sprouts hiding beneath decaying leaves. Know
that they will one day become trees, wide and sturdy and tall.

Look to the soil and all that it houses. You should know that
we studied these things until the very end, that some of us lived

and died for the smallest things, things you couldn’t see
with the naked eye. Look to the stones — not just the river stones,

but the bones of what we used to be: the roads, the highways, the
buildings that once reached the sky. You should know that some

of us lived and died to find out what it all meant: the ruins of our
ancestors, the things they wrote, the things they felt, the beautiful

and terrible things they built and burnt to the ground. And know
that we continue on this quest, this pointless mission to write

it all down, to make sense of it, to calculate the right numbers
to escape the inevitable, to escape our own ends. Know that the end

is something that you cannot escape here. We searched for luck so hard
and so long that we set ourselves on fire looking for infinity.

You can only pull life out of the soil for so long, you can only
burn bones for so long. Eventually, everything returns to dust.

Eventually, the home that once kept you dry becomes brittle.
You should know that we saw the end coming long before it did,

but the end came anyway. And if you must leave, leave this place
as you found it, and before you go, find a mountain and sit at its base

in the warmest month of the year. Wait for the sky to turn purple, for the
sun to disappear but still linger in orange stripes on the horizon, and the

frogs, if they still exist, will sing. If you are capable of speaking, try not to,
and if you are capable of listening, do. And if you cannot hear them,

I am sorry.

Alexis Renata is a writer from the Pacific Northwest. She mostly writes speculative fiction and poetry. Her work has been featured in Z Publishing's Oregon's Best Emerging Poets series. You can follow her @alxsrenata or
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
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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