cover image The Practice, the Horizon, and the Chain

The Practice, the Horizon, and the Chain

Sofia Samatar. Tordotcom, $18.99 trade paper (112p) ISBN 978-1-250-88180-9

From PEN Award winner Samatar (The White Mosque) comes a brutal, haunting, yet ultimately uplifting novella examining capitalism and labor exploitation through the lens of science fiction. “The boy,” 17 and one half of a duo of nameless protagonists, was born and raised in the hold of a mining ship, a place of chain gangs and forced labor. Through a scholarship program, he’s rescued to the world above by “the woman,” who implemented the program, and whose father, too, was raised in the hold. What at first appears to be a relatively familiar academic setting—the woman is a professor, the boy a tentative new student under her tutelage —slowly unravels, revealing the deep horrors underlying the reality these characters inhabit. Samatar unfurls worldbuilding details with masterful subtlety, making each shocking reveal all the more potent. Through what amounts to a meditative far-future allegory, Samatar highlights the power of collective action in the face of oppression. This packs a punch. (Apr.)