I’m writing this just after some Escher immersion for a theme in my sequel, and it’s never the wrong time to share some Escher. It’s so hard to pick a favourite Escher, but here goes.
My fascination with all things Escher was kindled as a very young child, because I used to see this in front of me every time I went to my father’s office to use the internet (yes, those were the days you had to go to your dad’s office to use the internet).
What I’m Reading
I’ve just started this, after hearing many wonderful things about Bodard’s Xuya universe. So far, it has featured a sentient spaceship, a murder, portable minds, and a lot of poetry, and I’m enjoying it very much. Bodard has a wonderfully light touch - you can immerse yourself in the world without sinking into it. I look forward to finishing it in time for the next edition of the newsletter.
One book I did finish was an ARC of Arkady Martine’s A Desolation Called Peace, the sequel to A Memory Called Empire. I’m not going to say very much about it right now, as I have to rustle up a review for Strange Horizons - so, more on the book closer to release-and-review date - but I will recommend it for your March TBR pile when it does come out.
The Indian Scene
The first two editions of the newsletter spotlighted Indian writers. But as we all know, an SFF community is never just the writers. The glue that binds is the reader, and if you’ve followed the Indian SFF scene at all, you’d know of T.G. Shenoy. Shenoy used to write a weekly column on Indian SFF (we hope he’ll resume it soon), has a ready-made reading list of contemporary Indian SFF for whomever asks, and regularly unearths absolute gems from the written and visual history of Indian SFF, which he shares on Twitter. He also organises “To Rise and Boldly Go”, a weekly quiz on SFF, which brings together readers and writers (I’ve lurked in on a couple of editions, and it is very clever and very delightful) . So if you want to be abreast on what’s happening in genre writing in India, give him a follow!
What’s Happening at Strange Horizons
Our Mexican Special Issue came out, and it’s huge! Featuring stories, reviewed, poetry, and more - and in multiple languages (Spanish, Nahuatl, and English). Articles Department - where I work - published a “State of Play” article, which is what we normally do for our geographic specials. It takes you through a whistle-stop tour of Mexican SFF history, starting with Sor Juana, passing through Pedro Paramo, and all the way up to John Picacio hosting the 2019 WorldCon. Give it a read!
This is also the last non-fiction issue for the year. This twitter thread summarises all that we published in 2020.
Roll on January!
Azotus the Kingdom is really hard to get hold of - it was published by the Malawi Writers’ Union, and I’m not sure if it’s been republished by another publishing house - but it is completely worth it if you can get your hands on it. Azotus the Kingdom is an SF novel set in a future, privatised African country, with some resemblances to Brave New World - but it really is its own thing. The way the novel unravels is at times haunting and deliciously creepy (some scenes are still stuck in my head, three years on), but it also creates a space for hope. I don’t know if Shadreck Chikoti has written more SF after this, but I really hope he does.
An excerpt from Azotus was published in Africa39 (which I found in Blossoms, of all places!), and you can read an interview with him here.
… music should not be for remembrance. We remember too much. We need music to forget. Songs that leave no scars.
Sofia Samatar, Winged Histories