Samatar’s fiction embodies a beauty and complexity reminiscent of Ursula K. Le Guin and Angela Carter. Similarly, she uses diverse genre elements — drawing upon science fiction, myth, and the fantastic — as a means to explore ideas and offer deeper layers of stylistic intricacy ... Because the stories are so layered with ideas, a close reading can be an intensely cerebral experience; to skim the surface is to miss the story ... Samatar’s visions of the future, though diverse, are almost uniformly horrifying ... A relentless, challenging, and hypnotic collection, Sofia Samatar’s Tender transports the reader to myriad worlds, periods of history, and monstrous futures yet to be born. It can be a difficult text, demanding a high level of engagement with multiple layers and themes. At the same time, its subtle yet wrenching emotions have a way of getting under your skin.
Tender's longest story...is a feast of ideas. It's reminiscent of vintage Ursula K. Le Guin in its combination of social science and hard sci-fi, even as it probes the nature of belonging and belief ... The book's beating heart, though, is its title story...'Tender' redefines the emotional power and literary heft that speculative fiction can convey. As does Tender as a whole.
...eager for another tome featuring Samatar’s breathtaking writing will be pleased with her new story collection, Tender ... The collection is divided into two sections: 'Tender Bodies' and 'Tender Landscapes.' The first ten stories examine a body’s fragility, and the final ten look at brittle landscapes ... Stories take the form of fairy tales, letters, a school paper, and a catalog of supernatural creatures. Regardless of the setting or form, all twenty stories reveal emotional truths about the characters ... The story, and thus the book, ends with poignancy, yet hope ... Samatar is a master at not only weaving imaginative tales, but deftly layering them with emotional truths. While some stories are playful, many are sad, and others are disturbing ...she takes you into unfamiliar territory with prose that is skillful, controlled, and lovely.