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Sofia Samatar

Sofia SamatarSofia Samatar is the author of the novel A Stranger in Olondria (Small Beer Press, 2013). She holds a PhD from the Department of African Languages and Literature at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she specialized in Egyptian and Sudanese fiction. Her poetry, short fiction and reviews have appeared in a number of places, including Strange Horizons, Clarkesworld, Stone Telling, and Goblin Fruit. Sofia is Nonfiction and Poetry Editor for Interfictions Online: A Journal of Interstitial Arts. Find out more at www.sofiasamatar.com.

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A Stranger in Olondria: An exquisite tour of a world of danger, magic and beauty

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A Stranger in Olondria by Sofia Samatar

In A Stranger in Olondria, Sofia Samatar takes us on a journey that is as familiar and foreign as a land in a dream. It’s a study of two traditions, written and oral, and how they intersect. Samatar uses exquisite language and precise details to craft a believable world filled with sight, sound and scent.

The book follows Jevick, who journeys from Bain, the Harbor City of the land of Olondria to a distant valley, on a quest to settle the ghost that haunts him. Along the way, he becomes a pawn between two warring political factions, and learns much about this strange land he is visiting.

Jevick is the second son of a wealthy pepper grower in the Tea Islands. His father brings back a tutor from Olondria, who teaches Jevick to read and write. This opens the world of books for Jevick, who... Read More

The Winged Histories: This book is great, but don’t take my word for it

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The Winged Histories by Sofia Samatar

I was going to review Sofia Samatar’s book The Winged Histories, her companion novel to 2014’s A Stranger in Olondria, by simply saying, “This book is great, but don’t take my word for it; go read it.” Then I realized that not everyone will feel the way I feel about The Winged Histories. Instead of saying, “This book isn’t for everyone,” I’m going to aim this review at the people I do think it’s for.

Who are you? Well, here’s who you probably are:

If you liked A Stranger in Olondria for its vivid descriptions, its sense of a unique world, and its appealing characters, you will like The Winge... Read More

Magazine Monday: Fantasy Magazine, Women Destroy Fantasy

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Fantasy Magazine was folded into Lightspeed Magazine in 2012, but it came out of retirement in October 2014 for the Women Destroy Fantasy issue, one of the stretch goals of a Kickstarter for an all-women edition of Lightspeed. I was one of the contributors to the Kickstarter, and, as my review last week revealed, I greatly enjoyed the Women Destroy Horror issue of Nightmare Magazine that was another stretch goal of the same Kickstarter. I’m pleased to report that the fantasy issue is just as “destructive” and enjoyable.

Cat Rambo guest-edited the new fiction for this issue of Fantasy. Her editorial remarks on the difficulty of seeing the shape of a field when you’re smack in the middle of it. You can see fine details, but the overall structure, size and scope tend to escape y... Read More

The Monstrous: You can’t go wrong with Datlow

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The Monstrous edited by Ellen Datlow

Whenever I see Ellen Datlow’s name as editor on the cover of an anthology, I know I’m in good hands. Datlow has a made a thirty-plus year career of choosing good stories and developing collections that take different aims at the theme. The theme of The Monstrous is monsters, and Datlow makes sure to explore all facets of that word with this mostly-reprint anthology from Tachyon Press.

There are twenty stories in the book. One is original to the anthology. The reprints include one classic horror story and a few that read as dated to me. Datlow’s standards of excellent writing and good characterization stand throughout the book.

I’m going to discuss two pieces out of sequence, because they left me puzzling. Read More

Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy: “Best” sets the bar high and these stories clear it

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Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2016 edited by Karen Joy Fowler & John Joseph Adams

Karen Joy Fowler is the guest editor of the Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2016. This is the second book in the annual series, which John Joseph Adams conceived of, and he still plays a large role in the selection process.

It is worth reading both Adams’ and Fowler’s introductions. Fowler’s is brilliant because she talks about the world, fiction, fantasy and language. Adam’s is instructive. He walks us through the selection process. This is where I discovered that the title, “best of science fiction and fantasy” is quite literal. It’s not “science fiction/fantasy” or “science fantasy” or “science fiction or fantasy.” The book c... Read More

The New Voices of Fantasy: A diverse and worthy collection

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Reposting to include Jana's new review.

The New Voices of Fantasy edited by Peter Beagle

This collection of nineteen fantasy short works, edited by Peter Beagle, is definitely worthwhile if you like speculative short fiction. Many of them left an impact on me, and a few are true standouts. These stories are by relatively new authors in the speculative fiction genre and are all fantasy; otherwise there's no discernable overarching theme.

These stories have almost all been published previously over the last seven years, and several of them are Hugo or Nebula winners or nominees. While a dedicated reader of online short fiction can find many of these short works in free online magazines, it’s convenient to have them gathered together in one volume with other stories that... Read More