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Swirsky, Rachel

Entry updated 10 October 2022. Tagged: Author.

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(1982-    ) US editor, poet and author, focusing in the latter capacity almost entirely on work in shorter forms; she began to publish work of genre interest with "Scene from a Dystopia" in Subterranean #4 (2006). By 2013 she had already released nearly fifty stories, almost all of them bristling with transgressive "violations" of the genre purities of the previous century; her work represents a strenuous and at times stringent argument for the central role of Fantastika (see also Equipoise) in comprehending the world as the new century continues to test to destruct previous formularies of the real. She remains best-known for "The Lady Who Plucked Red Flowers Beneath the Queen's Window" (Summer 2010 Subterranean), nominated for several awards and winning the Nebula award. The protagonist of the long tale, a sorceress in an unlikely fantasy landscape, is almost immediately killed, and finds herself enjoying multiple Reincarnations into various worlds described in terms that simultaneously ennoble and mock genre conventions, where she gives sage advice (see Secret Master) about what is transpiring in each venue: quasi-magic Robots invade a land; a Dystopia is created by men obsessively searching for the (female) secret underlying all things (see Feminism; Women in SF); in a Dying Earth a Posthuman creature tells her it is all about to begin again. Though the novella is not short, the pace is precipitate (a thrusting urgency of telling characterizes much of the best genre-violating work in recent years).

Swirsky has published two full-length collections: Through the Drowsy Dark (coll 2010), which contains poetry and prose; and the substantial How the World Became Quiet: Myths of the Past, Present, and Future (coll 2013). Her "If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love" (March 2013 Apex Magazine) won a Nebula as best short story. [JC]

Rachel Swirsky

born San Jose, California: 14 April 1982


collections and stories

works as editor


previous versions of this entry

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