Long Hidden – a brief review

I recently finished reading the anthology I got this May – Long Hidden: Speculative Fiction from the Margins of History. Here’s how the editors (Rose Fox and Daniel José Older) describe it:

There is a long and honorable legacy of literary resistance to erasure. This anthology partakes of that legacy. It will feature stories from the margins of speculative history, each taking place between 1400 and the early 1900s and putting a speculative twist—an element of science fiction, fantasy, horror, or the unclassifiably strange—on real past events. — See more at: http://longhidden.com/#sthash.oZotn2JT.dpuf

First of all: this is an excellent anthology. Get it, read it, be happy that it exists! Reading the stories in Long Hidden, I found myself wishing that every anthology and magazine would feature such a diversity of characters and settings. So refreshing, so inspiring to read stories where straight white guy is not the default main character. Also, I really like the concept of historically-based speculative fiction. (Should write more of that stuff myself, in fact.)

The time periods in the stories skew towards the 19th and (early) 20th centuries, and the settings towards the USA. This is understandable, because a) it’s easier for non-historians to write about time periods closer to our own, and b) more people wanting to write about the US submitted stories I guess? Anyway, the diversity of character even within the 19th–20th-century and the US-based stories is awesome. I would’ve loved to see more pre-19th-century stuff, but that’s just my love for pre-industrial periods showing. 🙂

Some favourites from the anthology include (in the order they appear in the book):

  • ‘The Oud’ by Thoraiya Dyer (1633, The Shouf, Ottoman Empire) – lyrical, strange, music and demons.
  • ‘Across the Seam’ by Sunny Moraine (1897, Lattimer, Pennsylvania) – Baba Yaga and gender.
  • ‘Each Part Without Mercy’ by Meg Jayanth (1746, Madras, India) – dream-magic and an especially cool setting.
  • ‘The Colts’ by Benjamin Parzybok (1514, Hungary) – zombie soldiers!
  • ‘A Deeper Echo’ by David Jón Fuller (1919, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada) – shapeshifting and family dynamics.
  • ‘Find Me Unafraid’ by Shanaé Brown (1905, Charlotte, North Carolina) – empowering magic.
  • ‘Medu’ by Lisa Bolekaja (1877, Ellsworth, Kansas) – some pretty damn awesome hair.
  • ‘The Dance of the White Demons’ by Sabrina Vourvoulias (1524, Guatemala) – fighting colonisers with earth magic.

All the other stories are great too: this is an excellent collection and a highly enjoyable read. I hope that Rose Fox and Daniel José Older will consider editing more anthologies in this vein, because I’d love to see more like this!