written by David Steffen
Strange Horizons is a freely available online speculative fiction zine that also publishes nonfiction and poetry. They publish a variety of styles of stories and have regularly attracted award nominations in recent years.
All of the stories and poetry in the zine are published in the podcast.
When Mary Anne Mohanraj founded Strange Horizons in the year 2000, online publications were often looked down upon in many circles as inferior to print magazines–not getting much attention come award season and that sort of thing. Since then the attitude has shifted greatly and many of the award honors every year go to online publications. I believe Strange Horizons is the oldest of those online publications that regularly draws that kind of honor, and Strange Horizons has done a lot to turn around fandom’s opinion about online publications.
Mary Anne Mohanraj was Editor-in-Chief of Strange Horizons until 2003. Susan Marie Groppi was Editor-in-Chief from 2004 through 2010. The current Editor-in-Chief is Niall Harrison and the current fiction editors are Julia Rios, An Owomoyela, Catherine Krahe, and Lila Garrott. There have been other fiction editors in the past, but I’m honestly not sure where to find a full list.
Strange Horizons is a nonprofit organization in the US and is run entirely run by volunteers so that all the money goes toward licensing the publication rights for the content. Most of their funding comes from their annual fundraising drive, which ended a few days ago.
One of the rewards for reaching goals in their 2012 fund drive was to start producing a fiction podcast, which began publishing in January 2013. Anaea Lay is the host and also narrates most of the stories. There is also a poetry podcast if that suits your fancy–I am focusing on the fiction podcast here because I don’t understand poetry well enough for my opinion to be of much value. Since then, all of Strange Horizons stories also appear on the fiction podcast.
1. “The Game of Smash and Recovery” by Kelly Link
Wonderfully weird story of two siblings waiting on a strange planet for their parents.
2. “Broken-Winged Love” by Naru Dames Sandar
Story of a dragon parenting a child with a damaged wing.
3. “The Suitcase Aria” by Marissa Lingen
A castrato magician hunts an opera house murderer.
4. “Why Don’t You Ask the Doomsday Machine?” by Elliot Essex
From the POV of a machine that outlasts civilization after civilization.
5. “Din Ba Din” by Kate McLeod
Living days completely out of order, often years apart.
7. “What We’re Having” by Nathaniel Lee
A skillet serves the food that we’re having tomorrow.
8. “ARIECC 1.0” by Lillian Wheeler
POV of AI meant to help people with traffic and weather issues.
9. “Among the Sighs of the Violencellos” by Daniel Ausema
A very interesting and evocative mix of fun elements, including fantasy hero tropes.
10. “Significant Figures” by Rachael Acks
Alien masquerading as human tries to protect Earth from other aliens. My favorite character is a waffle iron.
“The Innocence of a Place” by Margaret Ronald
Cool epistolary tale trying to piece together evidence of a mysterious series of events that happened in the early 20th century, with a historian’s notes on the subject.
“Dysphonia in D Minor” by Damien Walters Grintalis
A world where music is used to build things, and a story about the people who do this as an occupation.
“20/20” by Arie Coleman
Time travel is used to change the result of medical treatment plans that turned out to be incorrect.
“The Visitor” by Karen Myers
Very cool alien POV and its first contact with humans.
“Never the Same” by Polenth Blake
A sociopath who has learned to function even in a society that scans for sociopaths and treats them differently tries to make a positive difference in an SFnal world.