Greetings from the depths of NaNoWriMo. I come to you as a NaNo Rebel. And while I would love to talk about my writing habits, that is not what I am here to do. This post does not exist to bolster my own (white, cisgender) voice.
In honor of Transgender Remembrance Day, I am highlighting speculative fiction authors who do not conform to the gender binary.
I have a soft spot for Neon Yang, not because they wrote the Tensorate Series which I’ve recommended in an earlier post, but because they wrote a short story with GIANT ROBOTS. As a long-time fan of Gundam, giant robots have a special place in my heart. Earlier in the summer, I opened my copy of Clarkesworld Magazine Issue 164 featuring a story by Neon Yang and not only were there giant robots, but a healthy dose of gender dysphoria too. Yang took one of my many loves (giant robots) and merged it with another of my many loves (queer experiences) and created a lovely story filled with heart and friendship.
All of this to say that you should read “A Stick Of Clay, in the Hands of God, is Infinite Potential.” I never thought you could make giant robots literary, yet here we are.
I have been hesitant to start Docile by K.M. Szpara because of its moniker “there is no consent under capitalism” and I am very squicked by anything with rape. However, I highly recommend Szpara’s story “We’re Here, We’re Here” on Tor.com, about a transgender member of a boy band who suddenly finds it difficult to use their voice.
This story comes with a heavy dose of FEELS; I am a sucker for characters who open themselves up to vulnerability. This story gets vulnerable, and what makes it great is the human connection between the characters. Go read it and join me in tears.
As an outsider looking into the transgender community, I hear stories and I feel like all I can do is listen. Sometimes, that is all that is required. Listen, absorb, and take in these experiences. This is how I felt when I read “Five Reasons for the Sign Above Her Door, One of Them Unspoken” by Izzy Wasserstein. My experience reading the story mirrors the experience of one of the characters in it. Your experience may not, but that’s the beauty of reading, isn’t it?
Confession: I have not read Nino Cipri outside of their Twitter. But they are a wonderful person to follow and I love reading what they have to say. Which is mostly about their cats (and social activism). Follow your resident Cat Dad. Your timeline will thank you.
Previously known as A. Merc Rustad, Merc Fenn Wolfmoor has been on my radar for years. Earlier this year, I purchased their collection So You Want to Be A Robot? and have not regretted it. Their stories weave fairy tales into science fiction settings with such ease I am using their prose to improve my own writing. If you are looking for a collection of stories that easily uses nonbinary genders, that places these nonbinary identities across a slew of settings both fantastical and science fiction, you cannot go wrong with So You Want to Be a Robot?
No list about queer speculative voices is complete without Charlie Jane Anders. She’s done so much not just for the queer community but for the speculative community as well. I want to direct your attention to two things: her newsletter Happy Dancing, where she writes about pop culture and things that are making her happy; and a non-fiction book about writing during hard times called Never Say You Can’t Survive.
Never Say You Can’t Survive has been published chapter-by-chapter throughout the pandemic on Tor.com. In it, Anders talks about using difficult circumstances in your life as fuel for creativity, and she draws on her personal experiences to teach that lesson. Her newsletter, Happy Dancing, is not as heavy but still draws on personal experiences.
I am a fan of Anders’s short fiction, and I am a growing fan of her non-fiction as well. I recommend you check out both.
I’ve totally missed someone. What other transgender or nonbinary authors are worth checking out? Let me know in the comments!