I received this book as a reward for supporting the kickstarter project that made it possible. “Most written chronicles of history, and most speculative stories, put rulers, conquerors, and invaders front and center,” the editors wrote in the project description. “People with less power, money, or status—enslaved people, indigenous people, people of color, queer people, laborers, women, people with disabilities, the very young and very old, and religious minorities, among others—are relegated to the margins.”
Long Hidden: Speculative Fiction from the Margins of History provides alternative narratives, presenting the stories of people that the history books usually ignore. A wide ranging variety of voices populate this excellent collection of stories, offered alongside an individual black and white illustrations, also in a variety of styles. The stories are anchored in time and place, with the date and setting noted at the top of each one, this connection with real-world history makes these stories of the fantastic more believable. There was not a single one in this collection that I didn’t like and, for me, the stories ranged from good to utterly fantastic. Below are a few of my personal favorites.
In “Free Jim’s Mine” by Tananarive Due escaped slave Lottie and her Cherokee husband are running for freedom. Along the way they seek out her Uncle Jim for help in their escape, but they find out that Uncle Jim’s help has a price.
As I’m a sucker for great Baba Yaga story, I had to fall in love with “Across the Seam” by Sunny Moraine. The gritty setting of a coal mining town on the verge of a strike suits the story well. (Moraine has a great blog post about how the story ties in her own family history.)
“Angela and the Scar” by Michael Janairo was a bloody and yet delightful story about a girl and her kapfre (a cigar smoking trickster fairy that lives in the trees) aiding in the fight against the white strangers in the Philippines.
“Perhaps the best tales are only half-told,” writes Benjamin Parzybok in “The Colts,” a story of the undead that was surprisingly human, haunting, and unexpected.
“Nine” by Kima Jones tells the story of three women and their young boy, who live and work in a lodge and tavern that serves people of color outside of town. This story socked me in the gut in the best of ways.
“It’s War” by Nnedi Okorafor is a tale of a girl who can fly, set in 1929 Nigeria. Such a lovely story with so many feels.
Nicolette Barischoff’s “A Wedding in Hungry Days”, which is the sweet story of a young, lonely ghost who weds a young, lonely boy. So good, it made me cry.
“Medu” by Lisa Bolekaja is a magical hair story, about a young girl and her dad as cattle herders in the Wild West. I love seeing alternative visions of the west, in which the focus is on more that the great white cowboy. So damn cool!