Looking for queer science fiction.
August 4, 2011 9:31 AM Subscribe
So I need more science fiction by and/or about queer folks. Special snowflake request details follow.
posted by Frowner to Media & Arts (28 answers total) 42 users marked this as a favorite
I know there's some literary theory about "queer" narratives, but I haven't read it and won't even try to go that route. By queer narratives, you may take me to mean depictions of actual non-heterosexual relationships and societies or writing about gender and sexuality that does not assume a gender/sexuality binary. Optionally, you could include narratives that don't privilege/center straight families, patriarchal living arrangements or the nuclear family.
Like, Samuel Delany's writing seems very queer to me, less for the sex than for the internal lives of his characters. He doesn't naturalize "femininity" or "masculinity"; these characteristics are always social, fluid, contingent, relational, partial - a character may act in certain "masculine" or "feminine" ways without those actions totally determining every aspect of their characters and without those actions being natural/inherent, also a male character may act "feminine" (nurturing or whatever) without necessarily displaying other "feminine" traits, or may act "feminine" (talking about feelings, etc) in relation to one character but not to another. He writes plenty of straight people, nuclear families and heterosexuality, but his stories do not privilege or center these relations.
Some books that meet these conditions that I have enjoyed: Nicola Griffeth's Ammonite and Slow River, anything by L Timmel DuChamp and most books from Aqueduct Press including Centuries Ago and Very Fast, virtually everything by Delany, Angela Carter's Wise Children and Nights At The Circus (few actual queer people, lots of decentering of the patriarchal family), Joanna Russ's work in general and particularly the stories in Extraordinary People (which is really kind of a reworking of and apology for the transphobia in The Female Man, I think. I don't have much SF by queer men, now that I think about it.
A straight writer - I believe L Timmel DuChamp is straight, for example - can certainly write successful depictions of non-straight relationships and can have sort of a "queer" perspective about gender and sexuality. Octavia Butler's tentacle aliens certainly "queer" the sexual relationships involved in her books, although I remain a little bit unhappy that everyone in her futures has heterosexual relationships.
I tend to like more experimental and "literary" science fiction, although I tend to like science fiction that is clearly SF - I may like Borges or Margaret Atwood or Doris Lessing but they're really non-SF-writers who write some SF tropes (no, seriously, there's a whole theory of genre that is very useful here). A good metric would be "SF by writers who have produced mostly SF and whose work is mostly shelved in the SF section".