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Nisi Shawl

Deep End

Nisi Shawl

This short story originally appeared in the anthology So Long Been Dreaming: Postcolonial Science Fiction & Fantasy (2004), edited by Uppinder Mehan and Nalo Hopkinson, and was reprinted in Lightspeed, May 2014. It is included in the collection Filter House (2008).

Read the full story for free at Lightspeed.


Nisi Shawl

Everfair is a wonderful Neo-Victorian alternate history novel that explores the question of what might have come of Belgium's disastrous colonization of the Congo if the native populations had learned about steam technology a bit earlier. Fabian Socialists from Great Britian join forces with African-American missionaries to purchase land from the Belgian Congo's "owner," King Leopold II. This land, named Everfair, is set aside as a safe haven, an imaginary Utopia for native populations of the Congo as well as escaped slaves returning from America and other places where African natives were being mistreated.

Nisi Shawl's speculative masterpiece manages to turn one of the worst human rights disasters on record into a marvelous and exciting exploration of the possibilities inherent in a turn of history. Everfair is told from a multiplicity of voices: Africans, Europeans, East Asians, and African Americans in complex relationships with one another, in a compelling range of voices that have historically been silenced. Everfair is not only a beautiful book but an educational and inspiring one that will give the reader new insight into an often ignored period of history.

Filter House

Nisi Shawl

Filter House is a collection of short fiction by Nisi Shawl, with an introduction by Eileen Gunn (author of Stable Strategies). The collection's fourteen tales offer a haunting montage that works its magic subtly on the reader's subconscious. As Karen Joy Fowler says, "This lovely collection will take you, like a magic carpet, to some strange and wonderful places."


  • At the Huts of Ajala
  • Wallamelon
  • The Pragmatical Princess
  • The Raineses'
  • Bird Day
  • Maggies
  • Momi Watu
  • Deep End
  • Good Boy
  • Little Horses
  • Shiomah's Land
  • The Water Museum
  • But She's Only a Dream
  • The Beads of Ku

Good Boy

Nisi Shawl

WFA nominated novelette. The story originally appeared in the collection Filter House (2008). The story can also be found in the anthologies Mothership: Tales from Afrofuturism and Beyond (2013), edited by Edward Austin Hall and Bill Campbell, and The Mammoth Book of SF Stories by Women (2014), edited by Alex Dally MacFarlane.

Jamaica Ginger

Nalo Hopkinson
Nisi Shawl

This novelette originally appeared in the anthology Stories for Chip: A Tribute to Samuel R. Delany (2015), edited by Nisi Shawl and Bill Campbell, and was reprinted in Lightspeed, February 2018. It can also be found in the anthology The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year: Volume Ten (2018), edited by Jonathan Strahan.

Read the full story for free at Lightspeed.

New Suns: Original Speculative Fiction by People of Color

Nisi Shawl

Anthology of contemporary stories by emerging and seasoned writers of many races

"There's nothing new under the sun, but there are new suns," proclaimed Octavia E. Butler.

New Suns: Original Speculative Fiction by People of Color showcases emerging and seasoned writers of many races telling stories filled with shocking delights, powerful visions of the familiar made strange. Between this book's covers burn tales of science fiction, fantasy, horror, and their indefinable overlappings. These are authors aware of our many possible pasts and futures, authors freed of stereotypes and clichéd expectations, ready to dazzle you with their daring genius

Unexploited brilliance shines forth from every page.

Table of Contents:

  • Foreword, LeVar Burton
  • The Galactic Tourist Industrial Complex, Tobias Buckell
  • Deer Dancer, Kathleen Alcalá
  • The Virtue of Unfaithful Translations, Minsoo Kang
  • Come Home to Atropos, Steven Barnes
  • The Fine Print, Chinelo Onwualu
  • unkind of mercy, Alex Jennings
  • Burn the Ships, Alberto Yáñez
  • The Freedom of the Shifting Sea, Jaymee Goh
  • Three Variations on a Theme of Imperial Attire, E. Lily Yu
  • Blood and Bells, Karin Lowachee
  • Give Me Your Black Wings Oh Sister, Silvia Moreno-Garcia
  • The Shadow We Cast Through Time, Indrapramit Das
  • The Robots of Eden, Anil Menon
  • Dumb House, Andrea Hairston
  • One Easy Trick, Hiromi Goto
  • Harvest, Rebecca Roanhorse
  • Kelsey and the Burdened Breath, Darcie Little Badger
  • Afterword, Nisi Shawl

Stories for Chip: A Tribute to Samuel R. Delany

Nisi Shawl
Bill Campbell

Stories for Chip brings together outstanding authors inspired by a brilliant writer and critic, Science Fiction Writers of America Grandmaster Samuel R. "Chip" Delany. Award-winning SF luminaries such as Michael Swanwick, Nalo Hopkinson, and Eileen Gunn contribute original fiction and creative nonfiction. From surrealistic visions of bucolic road trips to erotic transgressions to mind-expanding analyses of Delany's influence on the genre--as an out gay man, an African American, and possessor of a startlingly acute intellect--this book conveys the scope of the subject's sometimes troubling, always rewarding genius. Editors Nisi Shawl and Bill Campbell have given Delany and the world at large, a gorgeous, haunting, illuminating, and deeply satisfying gift of a book.

Strange Matings: Science Fiction, Feminism, African American Voices, and Octavia E. Butler

Rebecca J. Holden
Nisi Shawl

Strange Matings: Science Fiction, Feminism, African American Voices, and Octavia E. Butler celebrates the work and explores the influence and legacy of the brilliant Octavia E. Butler. Author Nisi Shawl and scholar Rebecca J. Holden have joined forces to bring together a mix of scholars and writers, each of whom values Butler's work in their own particular ways. As the editors write in their introduction:

"Strange Matings seeks to continue Butler's uncomfortable insights about humanity, and also to instigate new conversations about Butler and her work conversations that encourage academic voices to 'talk' to the private voices, the poetic voices to answer the analytic... How did her work affect conceptions of what science fiction is and could be? How did her portrayals of African Americans challenge accepted assumptions and affect others writing in the field? In what ways did her commitment to issues of race and gender express itself? How did this dual commitment affect the emerging field of overtly feminist science fiction? How did it affect the perception of her work? In what ways did Butler inspire other writers and change the 'face' of science fiction? How did she 'queer' science fiction? In what ways did she inspire us and motivate us take up difficult subjects and tasks? In other words, what is her legacy?"

The Mighty Phin

Nisi Shawl

Short story published in the anthology Cyber World (2016), edited by Jason Heller and Joshua Viola.

Read the full story for free at

The Things I Miss the Most

Nisi Shawl

This short story originally appeared in Uncanny Magazine, Issue 24, September-Octorber 2018.

Read the full story for free at Uncanny.


Nisi Shawl

This short story originally appeared in Nightmare Magazine, January 2016. It can also be found in the anthology The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2017, edited by John Joseph Adams and Charles Yu.

Read the full story for free at Nightmare Magazine.

Writing the Other: The Practical Approach

Conversation Pieces: Book 8

Nisi Shawl
Cynthia Ward

During the 1992 Clarion West Writers Workshop attended by Nisi Shawl and Cynthia Ward, one of the students expressed the opinion that it is a mistake to write about people of ethnic backgrounds different from your own because you might get it wrong--horribly, offensively wrong--and so it is better not even to try. This opinion, commonplace among published as well as aspiring writers, struck Nisi as taking the easy way out and spurred her to write an essay addressing the problem of how to write about characters marked by racial and ethnic differences. In the course of writing the essay, however, she realized that similar problems arise when writers try to create characters whose gender, sexual preference, and age differ significantly from their own.

Nisi and Cynthia collaborated to develop a workshop that addresses these problems with the aim of both increasing writers' skill and sensitivity in portraying difference in their fiction as well as allaying their anxieties about "getting it wrong." Writing the Other: A Practical Approach is the manual that grew out of their workshop. It discusses basic aspects of characterization and offers elementary techniques, practical exercises, and examples for helping writers create richer and more accurate characters with "differences."

Table of Contents:

  • Writing the Other: Bridging Cultural Differences for Successful Fiction - essay by Nisi Shawl and Cynthia Ward
  • Beautiful Strangers: Transracial Writing for the Sincere - (1999) - essay by Nisi Shawl
  • Appropriate Cultural Appropriation - (2004) - essay by Nisi Shawl
  • Excerpt from Nisi Shawl's forthcoming novel The Blazing World - short fiction by Nisi Shawl

Talk Like a Man

Outspoken Authors: Book 24

Nisi Shawl

In these previously uncollected stories, Shawl explores the unexpected horizons (and corners) opened up by science fiction and fantasy's new diversity. In her worlds, sex can be both business and religion, complete with ancient rites, altars, and ointments ("Women of the Doll"); a virtual reality high school is a proving ground for girlpacks and their unfortunate adversaries ("Walk like a Man"); and a British rock singer finds an image in a mirror that reflects both future hits and ancient horrors ("Something More"). With her trademark wit passing for wisdom, Shawl lights up our Outspoken Interview and then, in a talk given at Duke University, explores the connections between ancient Ifa and modern science fiction.

Table of Contents:

  • Walk Like a Man - (2015) - short story
  • Women of the Doll - (2007) - novelette
  • Something More - (2011) - novelette
  • An Awfully Big Adventure - (2016) - short story
  • Ifa: Reverence, Science, and Social Technology - essay
  • "The Fly in the Sugar Bowl" - interview of Nisi Shawl by Terry Bisson
  • Bibliography
  • About the Author

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