This content contains affiliate links. When you buy through these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.
In the October 23, 2023 issue of the award-winning magazine Strange Horizons, author Suzan Palumbo wrote in her editorial, “Stories have always been the vital connection to our pasts and heritages. They have brought us joy even in violent colonial times and have given us hope.”
Palumbo and art director and writer Marika Bailey co-edited the Caribbean Special Issues, a collection of fiction, poetry, and nonfiction from writers who live in the Caribbean or a part of the diaspora. Palumbo wrote, “Caribbean speculative fiction is not new,” and this is absolutely true, yet issues that spotlight Caribbean writers, and all marginalized communities for that matter, are few and far between. Thus, the weight and importance of the special issue.
The State of Publishing and the Importance of Spotlighting Marginalized Voices
In a world where publishing remains egregiously white (see fellow Rioter Arvyn Cerézo’s February 2023 article “The State of Diversity in the Publishing Industry“), it is vital and necessary to share publications that go above and beyond inclusion. I want to start 2024 off strong by supporting such works.
My particular expertise has to do with speculative fiction, so the works listed here (I chose to list them alphabetically by title) will likely sit under the umbrella of science fiction, fantasy, horror, and the sub-genres therein. Of course, this list is not exhaustive, but as always with my Book Riot articles, I seek to include creators and editors that readers can discover and support. Please consider subscribing to the listed magazines and purchasing copies of the anthologies.
Africa Risen: A New Era of Speculative Fiction, edited by Sheree Renée Thomas, Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki, and Zelda Knight
This brilliant anthology has received numerous accolades, including a nomination for the 2023 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work in Fiction. The table of contents is stacked with works from a wide range of emerging writers and literary titans, such as Maurice Broaddus and Tananarive Due. I also particularly love the inspiration for the title, which signifies the continued and growing vibrancy and diversity of the African and Afro-Diasporic science fiction and fantasy community. As the announcement on Tor.com stated, “Africa is not rising — it’s already here.”
The Caribbean Special Issue, Strange Horizons, edited by Marika Bailey and Suzan Palumbo
As mentioned at the beginning of this post, this special issue in Strange Horizons spotlights Caribbean writers and those in the diaspora. Published in October 2023, it includes brilliant fiction, poetry, and nonfiction from writers such as Malena Salazar Maciá, Brandon O’Brien, N.A. Blair, and more. Maciá’s story, “The Fate of Despair,” is a haunting, heart-wrenching yet hopeful science fiction story. It follows an astronaut hurtling through the cosmos in an escape pod, which docks with another escape pod and reroutes to what seems like a desolate, uninhabited mining planet. What happens next is both eerie and spiritual. The story is paired with artwork by Salomée Luce-Antoinette, which is listed here since Strange Horizons doesn’t necessarily do issue covers. I love how this fantastic art captures the haunting desolation of the beginning of the story.
In addition to the Caribbean issue, Strange Horizons is really unmatched in how the editorial team spotlights social justice topics and empowers marginalized voices in special issues, such as the July 2023 Childbearing Special Issue, the May 2023 special issue celebrating Wuxia and Xianxia, and the August 2022 special issue focused on Southeast Asia, among others.
Jewish Futures: Science Fiction from the World’s Oldest Diaspora, edited by Michael A. Burstein
This anthology is the heir to the Wandering Stars anthologies of the 1970s and ’80s and is one of the most recent speculative anthologies that highlights Jewish writers. Writer Michael A Burnstein edited this highly-reviewed anthology, which includes 16 stories from talented writers such as Harry Turtledove, Leah Cypess, S.M. Rosenberg, and more! This book explores Jewish themes in near- and far-future settings, where you’ll find humorous and emotional stories, from Jewish space lasers to aliens who seek to convert to Judaism.
Never Whistle at Night: An Indigenous Dark Fiction Anthology, edited by Shane Hawk and Theodore C. Van Alst Jr.
You might have heard the warning before: never whistle at night. Many Indigenous people believe in this warning, as it can cause evil spirits to appear and follow you. This haunting anthology builds on that, collecting stories that are sinister and unsettling, showcasing Indigenous writers such as Morgan Talty, Darcie Little Badger, Tommy Orange, and more. Additionally, its introduction is by the great Stephen Graham Jones, whose own work has delighted and scared the shit out of me for years.
Out There Screaming: An Anthology of New Black Horror, edited by Jordan Peele
I was very excited to finally purchase a copy of this book at Books & Books at The Studios of Key West while on holiday. Edited by Jordan Peele (director of the award-winning horror films Get Out, Us, and Nope), this anthology showcases new horror by Black writers and brims with stories from Nalo Hopkinson, N. K. Jemisin, Justin C. Key, L. D. Lewis, Nnedi Okorafor, and more. Stories range from unsettling to downright terrifying — from a young girl searching in the depths of the Earth for the demon that killed her parents, to a cop beginning to see huge blinking eyes instead of headlights, these stories will keep you up at night.
The Palestinian Special Issue, FIYAH, edited by Summer Farah and Nadia Shammas
I did a spotlight on FIYAH in March 2023 about its inception and inspirations. In addition to spotlighting Black speculative fiction writers, FIYAH published the Palestinian Special Issue in Winter 2022, edited by Summer Farah and Nadia Shammas. This passionate and powerful issue includes prose and poetry by Sonia Sulaiman and Rasha Abdulhadi, among others. It’s important to note that proceeds from the sale of the issue’s ebook go to Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP). This special issue was necessary then and is necessary now as we have witnessed — and continue to witness — the horrors and humanitarian crises happening in Gaza.
The Way Spring Arrives and Other Stories, edited by Yu Chen and Regina Kanyu Wang
Written, edited, and translated by a female and nonbinary team, this Booklist-starred anthology features a stunning array of stories and essays that have never before appeared in English. From stories about a restaurant at the edge of the universe, to a story about roses performing Shakespeare, these pieces extrapolate the complicated past and vivid futures of Chinese science fiction and fantasy. One of the things I found so insightful about this book is how co-editor Regina Kanyu Wang described the decision to sprinkle essays throughout in a LitHub roundup: “And also one thing unique in this anthology is that we didn’t put the essays in the back of the book — we put them in between, and they kind of serve as a thread.”
Your Body is Not Your Body: An Anthology
Over 30 trans and gender-nonconforming creators united to make this powerful anthology from Tenebrous Press to benefit trans youth in Texas. Writers such as Hailey Piper, Max Turner, and Avi Burton are included in this stellar collection of stories about pleasure-bots, ghouls, cannibals, and more. This anthology was a nominee for the 2022 Shirley Jackson Award for Best Anthology. This is another publication where your support directly supports others: Proceeds from Your Body Is Not Your Body go to Equality Texas to combat the attempts of the Texas government to criminalize trans youth.
Support More Magazines and Anthologies that Support Marginalized Voices
As I’ve said, this list is by no means exhaustive, but I do hope this inspires readers to branch out to discover and support new writers. In addition to the above works, I also recommend checking out khōréō magazine, a quarterly magazine of speculative fiction by immigrant and diaspora writers, which I profiled for Book Riot in June 2023.
Finally, as we start 2024 with climate crises and humanitarian horrors surrounding us, I often look to these magazine issues and anthologies to find hope, righteous fury, and a call for justice. Support these editors, magazine teams, and the writers they publish and cherish. Indeed, it is my hope, dear reader, that you may be equally inspired and radicalized by these words — and, in turn, share and uplift others.