Approximately nine years ago, while browsing a local library’s new release section, I came across Filter House. A short story collection by Nisi Shawl, its description and critical blurbs promised rich literary fantasy from a talented and distinctive voice that was new to me. Reading it, I realized that promise was no exaggeration. Filter House is significant in both its quality and its revelation of a culturally non-dominant perspective (particularly within the SFF community). Nominated for a World Fantasy Award and winning the James Tiptree Jr. Award, Shawl’s collection did not go unnoticed within the critical community.
Yet, I somehow felt unfulfilled after completing the collection. I had no regrets reading it; I appreciated it. But it still baffled me in its unfamiliarity and its thematic focus. Its Otherness required contemplation, attentive to the subtle graces of Shawl’s writing and listening to her viewpoint. For me, one read-through wasn’t sufficient to fully experience it. [Read more…]