Last year, Lightspeed invited women to destroy SF; this year the LGBTQ+ community gets their turn. It’s glorious, and it kicked off this month with a massive special issue of Lightspeed.
At over 500 pages (according to my epub of it), Queers Destroy Science Fiction! is a weighty piece of work, and it’s clear that it’s been conceived and crafted with deep caring and exquisite attention to its purpose. Most importantly, a real (and successful!) effort was made to be inclusive of the entire QUILTBAG acronym, and the more than two dozen personal essays included in the issue are must-read content for this reason. If you’re not queer, they offer a great variety of different perspectives to learn from; if you are queer, there’s a multitude of stories to identify with. Either way, if you have a soul something here will speak to you.
The fiction included is well chosen, which is characteristic of the publication in general, and there is a good mix of work included. My favorites, in no particular order except the one I read them in:
- “Trickier With Each Translation” by Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam – a bit of a time traveling super hero love story
- “The Tip of the Tongue” by Felicia Davin – a story about reading and government control that has given me a new nightmare
- “Plant Children” by Jessica Yang – a sensitively written romance about plants and family
- “Nothing is Pixels Here” by K.M. Szpara – a story about hard choices
- “Two by Two” by Tim Susman – a story about the end of the world and how we might face it and who we will face it with
- “Melioration” by E. Saxey – about the power of words
- “Helping Hand” by Claudine Griggs – an astronaut survival story
- “Bucket LIst Found in the Locker of Maddie Price, Age 14, Written Two Weeks Before the Great Uplifting of All Mankind” by Erica L. Satifka – exactly what the title says, but sad and beautiful (I love the conceit of telling a story through a found piece of ephemera.)
- “A Brief History of Whaling with Remarks Upon Ancient Practices” by Gabby Reed – exactly what the title says, but also sad and beautiful
- “In the Dawns Between Hours” by Sarah Pinsker – about why or why not and when to use a time machine if you can
- “Letter From an Artist to a Thousand Future Versions of Her Wife” by JY Yang – another story that is exactly what the title says, but also sad and beautiful (If you can’t tell, sad and beautiful are two of my favorite attributes in short fiction, and I’m also a sucker for clinically descriptive titles.)
- “CyberFruit Swamp” by Raven Kaldera – definitely the most graphically sexual story in the collection (and be sure to read the author spotlight on Raven Kaldera)
- “The Sound of His Wings” by Rand B. Lee
- and “O Happy Day!” by Geoff Ryman – Both of these stories deal with obvious Nazi metaphors and totalitarian futures, but with vastly different approaches and two very different ways of integrating queerness into the narrative.
In nonfiction, aside from the truly wonderful personal essays, there’s also a nice piece on Robert A. Heinlein’s influence and an excellent interview with David Gerrold. This, however, leads to my only real complaint about the issue, which is that the David Gerrold interview is extremely poorly formatted. I thought it might just be the epub version of the magazine, but it appears that the online version of the interview is similarly difficult to read because with no quotation marks, italics, or block quoting it’s hard to tell what parts of it are David Gerrold’s statements and what parts are Mark Oshiro’s commentary.
At just $3.99, Queers Destroy Science Fiction! is a great value, and I highly recommend purchasing it. Queers Destroy Horror!, a special issue of Nightmare will be out in October, followed by a Queers Destroy Fantasy! issue of Fantasy Magazine in December. And in 2016, Lightspeed will be doing POC Destroy Science Fiction! with guest editor Nalo Hopkinson.