Hugo reading 2018: Strange Horizons

Strange Horizons was a bit of a mixed bag for me.  The two stories were good, but did not blow my mind.  Utopia LOL was funny and wrenching and didn’t quite work for me; These Constellataions Will Be Yours worked better – it was unsettling and cleverly emotional, set in a world where space exploration is reliant on turning certain members of a conquered race into the minds of spaceships (and conditioning them to think that this is the best way forward).  The protagonist is such a ship, and she is repelled, appalled, and then reluctantly fascinated and fond of the young dancer who refuses to be enslaved as she is.

There were two poems, one of which was at least half in a language I don’t speak, so I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it.

I think the most interesting part of this issue was an article by Erin Horakova, called Freshly Remember’d: Kirk Drift.  It was a multi-part essay, discussing popular ideas of Captain Kirk and how they are so pervasive that one ceases to be able to see the actual character through the stereotype. There was a really interesting and thorough investigation of Kirk’s character and relationships with women, and how ideas about masculinity – oh, let’s just call it toxic masculinity, because that’s what it is – have kind of retconned his character into something different from what t is. Very thought provoking, especially in pointing out the ways in which the discourse around masculinity has actually changed for the worse in recent years, and how current perceptions change how we see the original Star Trek, as well as the ways in which we form false memories and the difficulties of overcoming them.  I’ve seen maybe two episodes of the original Trek (or maybe one), and this was compelling enough to make me want to watch a lot more.

There was a roundtable on indigenous futurism and recolonising science fiction, which was good, but I don’t know what to pull out of it to write about. The thing that struck me most was when they were talking about how First Nations people in the US don’t really have exist in the present in modern fiction – they are missing from works set in the current era, and only appear as historical figures, so they have no place in the now, let alone in the future worlds of speculative fiction. This is an aspect of representation that had not occurred to me and bears thinking about.

And there were three reviews, one so literary I couldn’t understand it, one nice and straightforward and interesting, and one that was angry and fairly brilliant in discussing an anthology called ‘Deserts of Fire: Speculative Fiction and the Modern War’, edited by Douglas Lain, which is apparently attempting to be anti-war while being entirely US-centric and rife with American exceptionalism and no voices from the countries in which these American wars are taking place.
I think this goes below Uncanny, and probably below Fireside.  The only thing I absolutely loved was the essay about Captain Kirk, but that was good enough to put it above Book Smugglers and Beneath Ceaseless Skies

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