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Shawl, Nisi

Entry updated 20 March 2023. Tagged: Author.

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(1955-    ) US editor, journalist and author who began publishing work of genre interest with "I Was a Teenage Genetic Engineer" as by Denise Angela Shawl in Semiotext(e) SF (anth 1989) edited by Rudy Rucker, Peter Lamborn Wilson and Robert Anton Wilson. They have focused throughout their career on short forms of fiction, a fair conspectus of their work being assembled as Filter House: Short Fiction (coll 2008), which includes their first story and which won a James Tiptree Jr Award, Something More and More (coll 2011) and the substantial Our Fruiting Bodies (coll 2022). Everfair (2016), their first novel, is an Alternate History Utopia in which an industrial revolution more benevolent than that which occurred in real history is instigated in the nineteenth-century Congo through the establishment of a clement enclave by the Fabian Society; the long story itself is told through a sophisticatedly-deployed symphony of different voices.

Shawl is perhaps of greatest importance to sf for their nonfiction work. Writing the Other: A Practical Approach (coll 2005) with Cynthia Ward is an acute and sometimes barbed set of essays on the creation of fictions which deal with live issues and discourses (see Feminism; Imperialism; Race in SF; Women in SF; Women SF Writers) in the context of a literary environment like sf (see SF Megatext) that as the twenty-first century began was increasingly perceivable as sexist and sclerotic. An Anthology, The Wiscon Chronicles, Vol 5: Writing and Racial Identity (anth 2011), usefully supplements this work. Stories for Chip: A Tribute to Samuel R Delany (anth 2015) with Bill Campbell effectively and warmly honours the work and example of Samuel R Delany, as does the powerful Strange Matings: Science Fiction, Feminism, African American Voices, and Octavia E Butler (anth 2013) with Rebecca J Holden, in the case of Octavia E Butler. New Suns: Original Speculative Fiction by People of Color (anth 2019) won a Locus Award as best anthology. Their editorial and cognitive presence has contributed significantly to the ongoing rewriting of the field of play in contemporary Fantastika, for the better.

Nisi Shawl received a Kate Wilhelm Solstice Award (see SFWA Grand Master Award) in 2019. [JC]

Denise Angela Shawl

born Kalamazoo, Michigan: 2 November 1955


  • Everfair (New York: Tor, 2016) [pb/Victo Ngai]


  • Filter House: Short Fiction (Seattle, Washington: Aqueduct Press, 2008) [coll: pb/Per R Flood]
  • Something More and More (Seattle, Washington: Aqueduct Press, 2011) [coll: pb/Lynne Jensen Lampe]
  • Talk Like a Man (Oakland, California: PM Press, 2019) [coll: in the publisher's Outspoken Authors series: pb/Brian Charles Clarke]
  • A Primer to Nisi Shawl (Los Angeles, California: Dark Moon Books, 2019) [coll: stories by Shawl with commentary on each by Michael Arzen: in the publisher's Exploring Dark Short Fiction series: pb/]
  • Our Fruiting Bodies (Seattle, Washington: Aqueduct Press, 2022) [coll: pb/Barry Webb]

works as editor


New Suns

individual titles as editor


nonfiction works as editor


previous versions of this entry

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