Great Queer Fantasy and Science Fiction

I moderated a “Queering Fantasy” panel at the virtual 2020 World Fantasy convention that looked at the connection between adding queer characters and queering the fantasy tropes themselves.

How do you queer Fantasy and Fantasy tropes? Is it dropping in a queer character into an otherwise fantastical plot? Slipping in a positive queer romance? Or is it dismantling, changing, altering, and questioning the tropes that have been present in Fantasy for decades? Is it queering the way power is distributed in a society, or queering character goals and story endings? Does it touch how we build a Fantasy economy, a government, a landscape, a culture? We would say it includes all these things. Queer characters invite complete queer make-overs of Fantasy tropes. We’re here to discuss that– discussing the contributions of LGBTQIAA2S+ authors to the field; we want to give you plenty to look at and consider. Heck, we might, at the end, even compose multiple queer “I want” Disney songs for the Fantasy stories we want to create or see created–ya never know. Whether you’re an activist or an ally, we welcome you.

We had a great time–and if you went to WFC2020 and didn’t see it, it is recorded. We could have talked another hour on these themes. Part of our takeaway for guests to that panel was a list of great queer fantasy and science fiction. We placed it in the Session Pages section of WFC 2020’s online presence at Crowdcast. We had originally just been thinking of fantasy, and then it expanded to include SF and then horror, steampunk, etc…. but here is the list (with a few more edits by me).

Caveats: This is NOT a list of every queer story out there–by no means–but was a list that four panelists Corry L. Lee, Cheryl Morgan, S. Qiouyi Lu and I could come up with over a couple of days to hand to people when they got done with the panel.

It’s intended to be a starter list–a recommended reading list. These are books we’ve read and recommended. It is limited by our personal reading. It will have holes (not enough of us read YA and MG) and S. didn’t get a chance to put aer complete list with ours, but I hope ae does and then I will add aers to the rest.

I chose representative covers with complete randomness, not as any statement.

There are many great reading lists for queer books–this one is ours.

So, from the “Queering Fantasy” panel at the 2020 World Fantasy Convention, a list of their recommended reading:

Great Queer Fantasy and Science Fiction

Feel free to circulate and add your own–or let me know! Let it grow, let it grow, let it grow!

Recommendations by Corry L. Lee, Cheryl Morgan, Jerome Stueart, and S. Qiouyi Lu

Key: SF = Science Fiction, F = Fantasy, YA = Young Adult, MG = Middle Grade, H = Horror, SP = Steampunk, SH = Superheroes, GN = Graphic Novel SS = short story collection

Adult:

  • Ninefox Gambit – Yoon Ha Lee (SF)
  • The City We Became – N.K. Jemisin (F/contemporary)
  • The Perfect Assassin – K.A. Doore (F)
  • Raven Tower – Ann Leckie (F)
  • Ancillary Justice – Ann Leckie (SF)
  • A Memory Called Empire – Arkady Martine (SF)
  • The Future of Another Timeline – Annalee Newitz (SF, Alt Hist)
  • Weave the Lightning – Corry L. Lee (F, novel)
  • Dhalgren — Samuel R. Delany (SF, novel)
  • Stars in my Pocket Like Grains of Sand — Samuel R. Delany (SF, novel)
  • The Affair of the Mysterious Letter – Alexis Hall (F)
  • Will Do Magic for Small Change – Andrea Hairston (F/contemporary)
  • Silver in the Wood & The Drowned Country – Emily Tesh (F, novellas)
  • The Seep – Chana Porter (SF, novella)
  • Swordspoint – Ellen Kushner (F, novel and the whole Riverside series)
  • The Outremer Series – Chaz Brenchley (F, 6 novels in US, 3 fat novels in UK)
  • The Books of the Orokon – Tom Arden (F, 5 novels)
  • The Elemental Logic series – Laurie Marks (F, 4 novels)
  • The Wraeththu series – Storm Constantine (SF/F, several novels)
  • Carmilla – Sherian Le Fanu (H, novella)
  • The Picture of Dorian Gray–Oscar Wilde (H, short novel)
  • The Tensorate series – JY (Neon) Yang (F, series of novellas)
  • In the Vanisher’s Palace – Aliette de Bodard (SF/F, novella)
  • Rhapsody of Blood series – Roz Kaveney (F, 3 novels thus far)
  • The Drowning Girl – Caitlin R Kiernan (H, novel)
  • Shadow Scale – Rachel Hartman (F, novel)
  • The Wayward Children series – Seanan McGuire (F, series of novellas)
  • Black Leopard, Red Wolf – Marlon James (F, novel)
  • The Tiger’s Daughter, The Phoenix Empress & The Warrior Moon – K Arsenault Rivera (F, novels)
  • The Watchmaker of Filigree Street, The Lost Future of Pepperharrow – Natasha Pulley (SP, novels)
  • The White Space series – Elizabeth Bear (SF, 2 novels thus far)
  • The Jacob’s Ladder series – Elizabeth Bear (SF, 3 novels)
  • Shadow Man – Melissa Scott (SF, novel)
  • The First Sister – Linden Lewis (SF, novel)
  • The New Moon’s Arms – Nalo Hopkinson (F, novel)
  • Dreadnought & Sovereign – April Daniels (SH, novels)
  • This is How You Lose the Time War – Amal El-Mohtar & Max Gladstone (SF, novella)
  • Elysium – Jennifer Marie Brissett (SF, novel)
  • Vei – Sara B. Elfgren & Karl Johnsson (F, GN, two volumes)
  • The Alice Payne series – Kate Heartfield (SP, two novellas)
  • The Rampart Trilogy – Mike Carey (SF, third volume due in March)
  • FINNA – Nino Cipri (SF, novella)
  • Beneath the Rising – Premee Mohamed (H, novel)
  • Lovecraft Country – Matt Ruff (H, novel)
  • The Locked Tomb Trilogy – Tamsyn Muir (SF/H, third volume due next year)
  • The Holdfast series – Suzy McKee Charnas (SF, 4 novels)
  • The AngeLINK series – Lyda Morehouse (SF, 4 novels & a novella)
  • The Kingston Cycle (Witchmark et al)—C.L.Polk (F, 3 novels)
  • The Maverick Heart Cycle—Stephen Graham King (SF, 3 novels)
  • Light—‘Nathan Burgoine (SH, Novel)
  • The Oberon Cycle—J. Scott Coatsworth (F, 3 novels)
  • Kissing Booth Girl and Other Stories—A.C. Wise (SF, F Short story collection)
  • Everyone on the Moon is Essential Personnel—Julian K. Jarboe (SF, F, SS collection)
  • Vintage—Steve Berman (H, F novel)
  • Before and Afterlives—Christopher Barzak (H Short story collection)
  • Bitter Waters –Chaz Brenchley (F, H, Short Story collection)
  • Daughters of Frankenstein: Lesbian Mad Scientists (SF, H anthology)
  • So You Want to be a Robot and other Stories—A. Merc Rustad (SF, F short story collection)
  • The Ultra Fabulous Glitter Squadron Saves the World Again—A.C Wise (SF, novel)
  • The Bone Mother—David Demchuk (H, novel)
  • The Hexslinger Series—Gemma Files (H, F, 3 novels)
  • Cocktails at Seven, Apocalypse at Eight—Don Bassingthwaite (H,F, short story collection)
  • The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps—Kai Ashante Wilson (F, novel)
  • The Angels of Our Better Beasts — Jerome Stueart (SF, F, short story collection)
  • In the Watchful City — S. Qiouyi Lu (SF, novel)

YA:

  • Rules for Vanishing – Kate Alice Marshall (YA, F, Horror)
  • Catfishing on Catnet – Naomi Kritzer (YA, contemporary/SF)
  • The Summer Prince – Alya Dawn Johnson (YA, F)
  • When the Moon was Ours; Deep and Darkest Red – Anna-Marie McLemore (YA, F, novels)
  • Ash—Malinda Lo (YA, F, novel)
  • Six of Crows—Leigh Bardugo (YA, F, 2 novels)
  • We are the Ants—Shaun David Hutchinson (YA, SF, novel)
  • Of Fire and Stars—Audrey Coulthurst (YA, novel)

MG:

  • Princess, Princess Ever After – Katie O’Neill  (MG, graphic novel)
  • Dragon Pearl – Yoon Ha Lee (MG, SF)

_______________________________________________________

While the panel did not place their own books on this list–because of modesty, I was the scoundrel and put them here to say–yes! these are also good because obviously we like them and would recommend them but: Propriety! S. Qiouyi Lu’s book comes out from Tor.com on 8/31/21–watch for it! Also, Cheryl is an editor and sensitivity reader and publisher at Wizard’s Tower Books and her fanzine is Salon Futura.

We hope you enjoy this starter list of reading excellent queer fantasy and science fiction and horror and steampunk and magic realism, etc. We hope you champion and buy works by queer authors if you enjoy them! The best gift you can give a queer author is a positive review on Amazon, Goodreads, your blog! Praise goes sooooo far. Let publishers know that there is a great market for queer themed books–with queer readers, and queer allied readers. We believe these books are more than just queer characters–but great stories WITH queer characters. Thank you for reading and supporting queer creators!

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