Start With One: Revealing The Practice, the Horizon, and the Chain by Sofia Samatar

Celebrated author Sofia Samatar presents a mystical, revolutionary space adventure for the exhausted dreamer in this brilliant science fiction novella tackling the carceral state and violence embedded in the ivory tower. The Practice, the Horizon, and the Chain will be available on April 16, 2024 from Tordotcom Publishing.

“I am in love with Sofia Samatar’s lyricism and the haunting beauty of her imagination. Her stories linger, like the memory of a sumptuous feast.” —N. K. Jemisin

“Can the University be a place of both training and transformation?”

The boy was raised as one of the Chained, condemned to toil in the bowels of a mining ship out among the stars.

His whole world changes—literally—when he is yanked “upstairs” to meet the woman he will come to call “professor.” The boy is no longer one of the Chained, she tells him, and he has been given an opportunity to be educated at the ship’s university alongside the elite.

The woman has spent her career striving for acceptance and validation from her colleagues in the hopes of reaching a brighter future, only to fall short at every turn.

Together, the boy and the woman will learn from each other to grasp the nature of the chains designed to fetter them both. They will embark on a transformation—and redesign the entire world.


“Full of spirit and heart, razor critique and compassionate insight, riveting mystery and compelling drama. Sofia shakes up what we accept as normal, inevitable, and fixed. She is a poetic seer, a prophet of human possibility.” —Andrea Hairston, Otherwise Award–winning author of Redwood and Wildfire

The Practice, the Horizon, and the Chain does what only Samatar can do: cut to the bone, but with a loving hand.” —Alix E. Harrow, New York Times bestselling author of The Once and Future Witches

“An extraordinarily moving tale of power, connection, and community, and a thought experiment perfectly designed to meet our times.” —Matt Bell, author of Appleseed

“This book has sharp, beautiful teeth—some of us will find catharsis in the bite, and some of us may come out bloody and ashamed, but it demands honesty, most of all with ourselves.” —C. L. Clark, author of The Unbroken

“Fierce and unique, an offworld allegory that reflects our imperfect world through a perfect speculative lens.” —Tananarive Due, American Book Award–winning author of The Living Blood

“Ursula K. Le Guin is the only possible point of comparison for the rich humanity and boundless imagination on display, but Sofia Samatar has no peer.” —Sam J. Miller, author of Blackfish City

“Deceptively easy to read, simple and pure as radiation’s shortest waves, Samatar’s translucent prose shows her audience our very bones.” —Nisi Shawl, author of Everfair

Cover design by Jamie Stafford-Hill

Sofia Samatar’s first novel, A Stranger in Olondria, won the 2014 William L. Crawford Fantasy Award, the British Fantasy Award, and the World Fantasy Award for Best Novel, and was included in Time Magazine’s list of the 100 Best Fantasy Books of All Time. She also received the 2014 Astounding Award for Best New Writer. Her novel The Winged Histories completed the Olondria duology, and was followed by Tender: StoriesMonster Portraits (with the artist Del Samatar), and The White Mosque: A Memoir. Sofia lives in Virginia and teaches at James Madison University.


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