The Tie That Binds: Announcing The Practice, the Horizon, and the Chain by Sofia Samatar

Tordotcom is thrilled to announce that Emily Goldman has acquired from World Fantasy Award-winning author Sofia Samatar a new novella titled The Practice, the Horizon, and the Chain—the story of carceral and academic institutionalized power set on a generation starship with a centuries-old caste system, written in the vein of Rivers Solomon and Ursula K. Le Guin.

The deal for World English Rights was brokered by Sally Harding at CookeMcDermid.

One is a River

Everyone is a Sea

The boy was raised among the Chained, shackled to an ever-rotating stream of work gangs, and condemned to toil in the Hold of a ship out amongst the stars for eternity.

His whole world changes—literally—when he is taken out of the Hold and brought upstairs to one of the ship’s professors. The boy has been granted a scholarship, she says. He is no longer one of the Chained, and he is to receive an education. The woman—herself one generation removed from those imprisoned in the Hold—is dedicated to ensuring he succeeds, all while fighting for her own advancement.

But as the boy and the woman grow closer and learn from each other the physical and mental reality the other inhabits, together they embark on a journey to grasp the shape of the many chains that are both the tools of subjugation and the key to breaking free.

Said author Sofia Samatar:

This book is for people who sit in meetings wondering why words like diversity, equity, access, inclusion, and even justice do not seem to be adding up to anything real. It’s for people whose time and energy are devoured by proposals and projects they hope will transform the places where they live and work, and who wind up drained and bewildered, gazing at the same old walls. It’s for everybody who experiences these things, in any kind of workplace, and especially for people who study and work in universities, because this story is set at a university on a spaceship. It’s about frustrated, scared, revolutionary students and teachers—in space! So, obviously, it’s a fantasy. It’s a mystical space adventure for the exhausted dreamer, a story where you can breathe your way out of prison, where the carbon atoms you exhale and the carbon in your bones interact in a potent way with the carbon scattered throughout the universe, in stones, in water, in other people. This book is not a blueprint for fixing any kind of system. It’s an invitation to exist in the cracks. If you are sitting in a terrible meeting and you put your hand on this book, you will be embraced by a circle of power.

Said editor Emily Goldman:

I love stories that deal with power—who has it, who wields it, for what ends, how it’s reinforced—and how different people experience, respond to, and change what those boundaries of power fundamentally are. As Sofia depicts in her brilliant novella with her always-gorgeous prose, power connects us all, and we are all capable of sensing and using to transform the world to the core. The Practice, the Horizon, and the Chain is “The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas” taken to whole new level, and I cannot wait for readers to fully experience this story for themselves.

The Practice, the Horizon, and the Chain will arrive from Tordotcom Publishing in 2024.


Sofia Samatar is the author of the novels A Stranger in Olondria and The Winged Histories, the short story collection, Tender, and Monster Portraits, a collaboration with her brother, the artist Del Samatar. Sofia’s work has received the William L. Crawford Award, the Astounding Award for Best New Writer, the British Fantasy Award, and the World Fantasy Award. She has also been a finalist for the Locus Award, the Hugo Award, the Nebula Award, and the Italo Calvino Prize. Her work has appeared in several year’s-best anthologies, including The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy. Sofia holds a PhD in African Languages and Literature from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and she currently teaches African literature, Arabic literature in translation, world literature, and speculative fiction at James Madison University.


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