Saturday, November 25, 2017

Outstanding LGBT Science Fiction & Fantasy of 2015-2016

Update 3/27/18: Replaced static table with dynamic table.
Update 11/26/17: Miscategorized bisexual story “Seasons of Glass and Iron” as lesbian. Updated both lists.
In addition to regular monthly ratings we’re going to start publishing occasional lists of highly recommended stories from particular subsets of Science Fiction and Fantasy (SFF). We’ve previously done this for Hard Science Fiction, and this month we’re doing it for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) stories.

As always, our focus is on the stories, not the authors. These are stories with memorable LGBT characters—not necessarily stories by noted LGBT authors. These include stories in which a key character merely happens to be an LGBT person as well as stories where the LGBT angle is crucial to the plot.
Also, these are stories that had at least one recommendation from a “prolific reviewer” (that is, any reviewer who reads at least 500 stories a year from major print and online sources); no single reviewer can really capture the tastes of all readers, so drawing from a pool of reviewers makes it more likely that we haven’t omitted anything.
The 37 stories are written by 31 authors and published in 15 magazines or anthologies from 2015-2016. Moving forward, we’ll probably produce an annual list for the previous year during Gay Pride Month (June), but we wanted to do something with the material we had for the past two years.

1. Highlights

  • Lesbian: Our favorite from this list is “The Briar and the Rose,” by Marjorie M. Liu which reworks the Sleeping Beauty tale in a unique way.
  • Gay: Our favorite story about gay men is “Destroyed by the Waters,” by Rachel Swirsky. It’s deeply moving and features a gay couple who’ve been married for fifty years. Since we’re a gay couple (together 21 years) we may be biased on this one, so a second choice is “Calved,” by Sam J. Miller. What’s remarkable about “Calved” is the way all the pieces fit together at the end for a shattering conclusion.
  • Bisexual: Very few stories feature an openly bisexual protagonist for some reason. We really like “Seasons of Glass and Iron,” by Amal El-Mohtar. It has the strong plot and strong characters that we favor. Both of the other two are really good. “The End of the War” is an extremely powerful story for many reasons, but the protagonist’s bisexuality is not material to it. In “Not a Miracle but a Marvel,” bisexuality is key to the plot.
  • Trans/NB: There are a lot of excellent, memorable stories to choose from in this category. If we had to pick a single one, it would be “Three Points Masculine,” by An Owomoyela, a military story in which a trans man is forced to serve in a women’s unit because he failed the army’s masculinity test by three points. He’s furious to find a dress-wearing “template” male in his unit, because he’s sure the person is faking it to get out of combat duty. This intense story of how they get to know each other and eventually had to depend on each other really stands out.

2. Background

Greg and Eric have been a couple for 21 years, and Greg was an activist from 1979 to 2007 or so (GLAAD/SFBA in 1993). While representing LGBT employees at Microsoft, Greg’s biggest achievement as an activist was influencing Microsoft during 2005-2006 to add “gender identity” to its nondiscrimination policy and to amend its employee handbook to give HR sensible directions on helping employees who transition. Looking up this history made us realize our use of “transsexual” is dated and moving forward, we’ll use the “GLAAD Media Reference Guide” published by the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation as our standard.

3 comments (may contain spoilers):

  1. Mr. Hullender, what is your response to the open letter by many authors at who are very critical of your reviews of transgender stories?

    1. We just got off a plane after being out for 2 weeks. We'll have a response tomorrow.