Read Long Hidden: Speculative Fiction from the Margins of History Online
Authors: Tananarive Due,Sofia Samatar,Ken Liu,Victor LaValle,Nnedi Okorafor,Sabrina Vourvoulias,Thoraiya Dyer
Long Hidden: Speculative Fiction from the Margins of History
Copyright © 2014 Crossed Genres Publications. All rights reserved.
Stories are Copyright ©2014 their respective authors. Used with permission.
No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews. For information, contact Crossed Genres.
FIRST EDITION: May 2014
Edited by Rose Fox and Daniel José Older
Cover art copyright © 2013-2014 by Julie Dillon
Interior art copyright © 2013-2014 by:
Esme Baran (
GMB Chomichuk (
Janet Chui (
Jennifer Cruté (
Sasha Gallagher (
Kasey Gifford (
Daria Khvostova (
Nilah Magruder (
Alice Meichi Li (
Eric Orchard (
Aaron Paquette (
Kaysha Siemens (
The stories in this anthology are works of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
For bibliographies and author notes on the stories, settings, and history in Long Hidden, visit
was a book, it was a conversation. Really, it was many conversations, over the course of many different lives; these fed into one conversation in particular, a back-and-forth on Twitter in December 2012 about representations of African diasporic voices in historical speculative fiction, and the ways that history “written by the victors” demonizes and erases already marginalized stories. That discussion became an idea that became the book you’re about to read.
(We are especially grateful to Cassandra Taylor for starting and spearheading that conversation, the entirety of which you can read here: http://dft.ba/-LH-spark)
We grew up reading stories about people who weren’t much like us. Speculative fiction promised to take us to places where anything was possible, but the spaceship captains and valiant questers were always white, always straight, always cisgender, and almost always men. We tried to force ourselves into those boxes, but we never fit. When we looked for faces and thoughts like our own, we found orcs and deviants and villains. And we began to wonder why some people’s stories were told over and over, while ours were almost never even alluded to.
Our discomfort and confusion turned into anger and frustration. We were tired of being pushed to the margins. We were furious at the complicity of publishers who whitewashed covers, and booksellers who shunted any book by a Black author to the “African-American Literature” shelves in the back of the store. Our hearts ached for all the writers who had been actively discouraged from writing characters that didn’t fit the norm, even as readers like us clamored for those stories.
Slowly we gathered a few rare gems by authors who really seemed to know us and understand what we needed. We reveled in works by Octavia E. Butler, Diane Duane, Gael Baudino, Tobias S. Buckell, Nalo Hopkinson, Ellen Kushner, Samuel R. Delany, Caitlín R. Kiernan, Lawrence Schimel, and N.K. Jemisin, and anthologies like Sheree Renée Thomas’s
and M. Christian’s
Eros ex Machina
. These authors and editors—and the publishers, booksellers, and librarians who took chances on them—showed us that splendid, exciting, rich speculative fiction could be written about people of color, queer people, trans* people, and others too often neglected and ignored.
But too many other supposedly diverse stories had generic faux-multicultural casts where everyone sounded the same. Our lives and personalities and voices were shaped by our cultures, our ancestry, and the history of people like us. We wanted more speculative works that reflected those truths. Only an anthology, a book that encompassed many voices, could speak to both the vastness and the underlying unity of our need for fiction that reflects all people and makes room for everyone to be a hero.
The journey from conversation to idea to book took a year, and a lot of hard work; and since we’re stuck in a capitalist world, it also took a lot of money. Once we all agreed we were in, we set up a Kickstarter to fundraise. Crossed Genres said it would cost $12,000 to purchase and publish 100,000 words of fiction. We added stretch goals to make it longer, get illustrations, and cover the book in gorgeous wrap-around art by Julie Dillon. We had a month to raise the money. In three days, we’d cleared the initial $12,000. Support came in from all over the world. It came in tiny donations and huge ones. Tweets and blog posts were posted and reposted, and by the end of the month we’d blown straight through almost all our stretch goals and raised a stunning $31,597 from 1,181 different funders. So this book is the result of many collaborations, many contributions, many conversations, many voices.
We’re not celebrities (though a few genuinely famous people were kind enough to boost the signal). We don’t have enormous followings. But the idea rang true. People wanted to read
as much as we did, and they eagerly joined us in making it happen.
Once we’d met our funding goals, we set out spreading the word about
as far and wide as we could. We extended our call for submissions internationally and posted it in places that don’t normally get solicited for speculative fiction anthologies. We reached out to writers who have never felt at home in a genre that often demonizes or erases them. And all those years of reading misrepresentations turned into an extensive set of guidelines: we demanded that our writers treat their characters and settings with respect, take care with depictions of sex and violence, and explicitly address difficult and complex topics.
Accordingly, we were then swamped with awesomeness: brilliant, unpredictable, courageous, elegant, hilarious, and heartbreaking awesomeness. Over 250 authors submitted stories, writing from their hearts, their experiences, and their family histories. We were humbled that so many people trusted us to read their deeply personal and often emotionally wrenching stories. From this amazing mountain, we drew 27 stories that spoke to the true heart of what
is: a book of counter-narratives. It is an act of literary resistance. In whispers, shouts, and moans, these stories combine into a collective outcry that is both joyous and mournful, a forgotten praise-song that puts flesh on the bones of our hidden dreams.
As first-time anthology editors, we learned a tremendous amount about crafting a book like this. From our authors’ meticulously researched work, we learned astonishing things about the lives of marginalized people around the world and throughout history. And from the outpouring of support from writers and readers, we learned that the longing to see ourselves and our history in fiction is bigger than any one book could encompass.
Many conversations became an idea that became a book, and we hope the book will spawn many conversations that will become many ideas, many stories, many dreams. If one of those dreams is yours, write your
story. Send it to an editor, a friend, the future. Post it online, paint it on a wall, or whisper it into a loved one’s ear. We are done being silent. We will revel in our messy, outrageous, complicated truths.
Thank you so much for joining us on this marvelous journey.
Rose Fox and Daniel José Older
New York City, 2014
Catalogued by Alibhai M. Moosajee of Mombasa
A male ogre of the Great Lakes region. A melancholy character, he eats crickets to sweeten his voice. His house burned down with all of his children inside. His enemy is the Hare.
[My informant, a woman of the highlands who calls herself only "Mary," adds that Apul Apul can be heard on windy nights, crying for his lost progeny. She claims that he has been sighted far from his native country, even on the coast, and that an Arab trader once shot and wounded him from the battlements of Fort Jesus. It happened in a famine year, the "Year of Fever." A great deal of research would be required in order to match this year, when, according to Mary, the cattle perished in droves, to one of the Years of Our Lord by which my employer reckons the passage of time; I append this note, therefore, in fine print, and in the margins.
"Always read the fine print, Alibhai!" my employer reminds me, when I draw up his contracts. He is unable to read it himself; his eyes are not good. "The African sun has spoilt them, Alibhai!"
Apul Apul, Mary says, bears a festering sore where the bullet pierced him. He is allergic to lead.]
A grave-dweller from the environs of the ancient capital of Kush. The ba’ati possesses a skeletal figure and a morbid sense of humor. Its great pleasure is to impersonate human beings: if your dearest friend wears a cloak and claims to suffer from a cold, he may be a ba’ati in disguise.
[Mary arrives every day precisely at the second hour after dawn. I am curious about this reserved and encyclopedic woman. It amuses me to write these reflections concerning her in the margins of the catalogue I am composing for my employer. He will think this writing fly-tracks, or smudges from my dirty hands (he persists in his opinion that I am always dirty). As I write I see Mary before me as she presents herself each morning, in her calico dress, seated on an overturned crate.
I believe she is not very old, though she must be several years older than I (but I am very young – "Too young to walk like an old man, Alibhai! Show some spirit! Ha!"). As she talks, she works at a bit of scarlet thread, plaiting something, perhaps a necklace. The tips of her fingers seem permanently stained with color.